Remembering The Murder Mystery Of Hip-Hop Artist Mac Dre: 10 Things You Need To Know

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Written by Ann Brown
Mac Dre
Remembering the murder mystery of underground Bay Area hip-hop artist Mac Dre: Here are 10 things you need to know about his death. Photo: Facebook

Mac Dre (born Andre Louis Hicks) may not have been known on a global scale but in California’s Bay Area he was a hip-hop phenomenon.

Based in Vallejo, he was one of the artists who helped usher in the hip-hop movement known as hyphy in the early 2000s. One of the pioneers, he took hyphy from the underground to the mainstream, especially with such hit songs as “Thizzle Dance” in 2002.

He went on to found the independent record label Thizz Entertainment.

Before he took off in hip hop, Dre served a five-year prison sentence for conspiracy to commit bank robbery.

Everything was looking up for Dre until he was murdered in 2004.

His death is one of numerous unsolved murders of hip-hop stars.

Here are 10 things you need to know about the murder mystery of hip-hop artist Mac Dre.

Drive-by

After a performance on Oct. 31, 2004 in Kansas City, Missouri, Mac Dre was killed by an unknown assailant. He was 34. The case remains unsolved.

Dre and other Thizz Entertainment members had performed a show and were traveling in the group’s van. A stolen black Infiniti G36 pulled alongside and someone opened fire, according to police. The van carrying the artist and his crew swerved across a grass median and four freeway lanes, then crashed into a ditch, San Francisco Gate reported. Dre was killed.

Rumors led to reprisals

After Dre’s murder, rumors swirled around who killed the artist. Then there were three more killings, police say.

Police believed that Dre was shot in a financial dispute, but according to the rumor mill, it was due to West-Midwest beef. One rumor pegged Kansas City artist Fat Tone as responsible for Dre’s death. 

Six months later, police say San Francisco hip-hop promoter Mac Minister and a friend avenged Dre’s death in Las Vegas by firing 33 assault-rifle rounds into two Kansas City men — including Anthony “Fat Tone” Watkins, SF gate reported. Two days later, a 21-year-old prostitute who was in Las Vegas with them was shot in the head and killed.

However, the rumors that Fat Tone had killed Dre turned out to be unfounded. Kansas City police Detective Everett Babcock cleared Watkins in Hicks’ death.

Death came more the once

According to Dre’s mother, Wanda Salvatto, there had been several times when she thought her son was dead. In fact, she told SF Gate she’d heard about her son’s death at least three times before.

No snitches

Detective Babcock told SF Gate that the investigation was impeded from the start by the reluctance of Hicks’ travel companions to cooperate. Some even acted as if they didn’t know Hicks.

Informant clues

In 2011, word came that an informant had clues into the murder of Dre.

Kansas City writer Alonzo Washington announced that an anonymous male informant had come forward and asked to be introduced to the police department. “If his unspecified ‘terms and conditions’ are met, the informant will reveal the name of a new person who he believes killed Mac Dre,” MTV reported.

We need snitches

Soon after Dre’s murder, reporter Washington campaigned for an anti-snitching “Hip to Give Tips” movement using flyers and writing articles. 

Washington persuaded producers of the TV series “America’s Most Wanted” to run a segment on suspected Fat Tone killer Mac Minister (Andre Dow). The broadcast ultimately led to Dow’s capture in San Francisco and a murder conviction, but no leads on Dre’s killer.

Bay Area-Kansas City beef

In a 2019 interview with Bay Area hip-hop artist Yukmouth, DJ Vlad discussed how Dre had been one of Yukmouth’s best friends. In fact, he performed with Dre in Kansas City but left town after the show while Dre stayed for more work. 

Dre’s death and the subsequent murder of Fat Tone led to a Kansas City-Bay Area beef.

“It’s sad because…It started a Kansas Cty beef. I never went back to Kansas City for hella long,” said Yukmouth. “I was done with it.”

On another interview, Kansas City rapper Tech N9ne told DJ Vlad, “I couldn’t go the Bay Area for some months” after Dre’s death.

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I know who did it

In the same Yuckmouth interview, DJ Vlad intimated that he knew who had killed Mac Dre. “I have (heard who committed the murder) but I am not going to say, but what I was told the person who did the killer is no longer alive, and it was not Fat Tone,” DJ Vlad said.

Inspired others

Dre inspired others even after his death. Dre’s legacy has lived on through lyrics from hip-hop artists like Young Money’s Drake, SOHH reported.

“I’m in the building and I’m feeling myself/Rest in peace Mac Dre, I’ma do it for the Bay/Okay, getting paid, we’ll holler whenever that stop.” (“The Motto”)

Afterlife

There were three Mac Dre albums released posthumously: “Judge Dre Mathis” (2005), “Pill Clinton” (2007), and “Dre Day: July 5th 1970” (2008).