MC Eiht of Warzone: Compton’s Uncrowned King

When full story of Hip-Hop is told, much more credit will be given to the West Coast rap scene. While many of the world’s hardest Bronx-centric Hip-Hop historians might try to downplay the lyrical and political impact of the West, it cannot be ignored. Case in point, MC Eiht. Before most of today’s so-called gangster […]

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full story of Hip-Hop is told, much more credit will be given to the

West Coast rap scene. While many of the world’s hardest Bronx-centric

Hip-Hop historians might try to downplay the lyrical and political

impact of the West, it cannot be ignored. Case in point, MC

Eiht. Before most of today’s so-called gangster rappers were able to

get into a film- he was pioneering the genera in Menace II Society.

Before that, he was owning the streets of L.A. with his group Comptons

Most Wanted. West Coast rap has gone through several transformations.

Many have come and gone. Rappers blossom and fade every day in L.A.,

but Eiht never left the block. Now a member of the West Coast

super-group Warzone, comprised of Eiht, Kam and Goldie Loc, he stands

as a decorated vet of the West side. With Snoop Dogg producing the

Warzone’s self titled debut, the uncrowned King of Compton can truly

rejoice. What’s new, Eiht?

MC Eiht: Just maintaining, you know. F**kin’ around in the studio with

Snoop. Doin’ a lot of s**t. Me and Snoop started back in the high

school days battlin’ and all that. I met him at Hamilton Junior High in

Long Beach. We all used to get our rap on. That’s when I ran into him.

I think I was about 16, or 17 years old, freestyling. Your career with Comptons Most Wanted took off a while

before Snoop got off the ground. What kind of interactions did you have

with him during that time?

MC Eiht: I mean I had neighborhood reach – but not musically. He was

still from Long Beach and I was from Compton. As far as the way my

career, it was just the place I was in. Compton took off before Long

Beach. That’s really what it had to do with. When you were in Menace II Society,

that was your acting debut. I expected to see you doing more films

after that. But you never seemed to pursue it full blown. Is there a

reason? MC Eiht: Rap was my focus. I never really went after

acting like that. I never had the incentive to go after it like that. I

was just trying to connect people from the streets. Looking at the future, can we expect more from you on

screen? I mean the day of the rapper actor is upon us. You’ve got Will

Smith, Cube, Eve, Diddy, the list goes on…

MC Eiht: If something comes about. I’ve been talking to people about

doing my own thing. I’m going to get into it after we do this Warzone

thing. Things will be a little more easier. The Warzone is you, Goldie Loc and Kam. That’s a West

Coast super-group if I ever saw one. Tell me about you relationship

with Kam.

MC Eiht: Me and Kam been running into one another over the last ten

years of our careers. We done shows, rallies, meetings, Crip and Blood

things. Me and Kam always had a connection. It was always love there. When you guys all put a song together, do you write that

day in the studio or does Snoop farm the beat out you write verses and

come together.

MC Eiht: Snoop might have a beat on deck and we’ll be in the studio and

come up with a concept. Goldie might come up with something, or Kam or

me might come up with something. Snoop might jump on the hook and we

automatically know how to follow the song. It’s easy to do if you’re a

vet and you been doing it as long as we have- especially if you love

the game. Nobody gotta tap the other dude and be like, “What you

writin’ about?” It’s all natural. We feed off each other so it’s real

good. Shortly after the 1992 riots I was in L.A., interviewing

cats on Grape Street about the gang truce. Today, people say the truce

didn’t really last that long or was never even really enforced. How do

you feel about that and how do you feel about where the streets are in

terms of South Central, Los Angeles?

MC Eiht: I was a part of the riot situation and the Blood and Crip

thing. I saw n***as come together. It lasted for a minute – without any

real real organization [pauses to focus thoughts]. It’s just so many

barbecues and picnics that you can go to without really focusing on the

problem in the Blood and Crip communities. In these projects and in the

streets, it’s bound to just turn.

After all the getting loaded and the partyin’ and sayin’, “I’m gonna

wear a red hat and you wear a blue hat,” after all that, there is no

focus. What’s gonna happen after we done partied? Nobody focused on

that. Nobody tried to into a whole- as far as the peace. That’s why it

fell apart.

As far as where the streets are at today. We still got killings. We

still got shootings. I can’t say if it’s more or less, ‘cause now we

got the Black and Brown thing too. Its really f**ked up. But that comes

from another source. That comes from money, the jail system and all

that. I do a lot of talks on Black and Brown unity in the

prisons and I talk to the Brown Berets a lot. But, I know from being in

the Bay that it is very different than what is going on down in L.A.

There is much less drama up here- why?

MC Eiht: It’s a lot of overcrowding here. You got Mexican and Black

gangs on the same block. They fighting for the rights on the territory.

They are fighting for position. Then you got the dope trade. N***as are

jackin’ each other and stealin’ each others’ work. It’s bound to be

f**ked up.

But there’s a lot of hype around it. I feel it could be solved without

all the hype. We ain’t doin’ nothing but wiping each other out. Can you have Black and Brown unity before you have Black unity in itself?

MC Eiht: You always gonna have problems within your own race. My thing

is, the less conflict you have with your fellow man, it’ll make it

easier. Maybe then people can follow behind within your own and make it

better for your community and race.

It’s just the fact that we are both minorities and we both stuck in

this situation of poverty. We’re both trying to hustle for the same

buck and that makes it more f**ked up. I hate to keep it political. But I need to know if you vote and if yes, who are you voting for?

MC Eiht: Do I vote? No. They always say it makes a difference. But

every time I vote, it don’t make a difference. I don’t even follow

politics right now. Because they are so f**ked up in the politics. How

can they have the support of the American people?

They need to get themselves in order. They are relying on US to put

n***as in the White House and the Senate and all that. 80% of these

mothaf**kas end up being f**ked up or corrupt. Do you think someone like Barack Obama running for president matters?

MC Eiht: I think he could help. He would put a new twist to it. But

honestly, I don’t think they’d let him in. Before they let a person

who’s African American or a woman in…they ain’t gonna let him in. Its

just too old school White-blooded American. It’d be a nice change. But

I can’t see it happening.

It’d give our people and tons of other people a chance to see what

could happen. What could be done on a different scale? It would cause

so much controversy. When that day happens you know its f**ked up

around here. Nas said Hip-Hop was dead. Then KRS-One dropped an album

talking about Hip-Hop lives. Regardless of where you stand on that

issue, where would you like to see Hip-Hop going?

MC Eiht: I can understand Nas. He’s lyrical, he’s self-conscious. He

teaches us lessons. I also like KRS-One and those type of cats too.

He’s one of our pioneers. I’d like to see Hip-Hop go beyond all the

imagery. I’d like to see it have a point.

I’m not the first rapper to be tellin’ people how to be living. People

think my music is negative. Just like [critics are] on my n***a Snoop.

They are back on the “b***h” and “ho” words again. It’s just funny how

the s**t comes back full circle.

I’d like to see things get back to being authentic: some Heavy D &

the Boys, some Eazy-E, some 2Pac, some Kool Moe Dee, Biggie…n***as that

meant something. I know we gotta have something for the kids. But let

them go to some Disney [movie] s**t then.

I struggle to eat off this s**t. This is real. I don’t look at making

music as something [where] I wanna just get in the studio and play

around on some keyboards. I’m not just trying to say a few little

phrases, and hope I sell a million copies. That’s why Nas gets the idea

that Hip-Hop is dead.

I hate to name names. But when you hear s**t like [DJ Webstar &

Young B’s] “Chicken Noodle Soup,” it makes Hip-Hop seem like….Like all

the stuff we built on like Afrika Bambaataa and the Treacherous 3 to

Eazy and EPMD and all the old school pioneers- to see what it turned

into is ludicrous.

I appreciate n***as like KRS-One. I appreciate n***as like Snoop for

not being afraid to put their hands back in the pot. People try to

count him out- sayin’ that he’s old.

Anybody who’s from my era: Scarface, Ice-T, Public Enemy- anybody –

back then, we had significance in rap. We meant something. We might

have told you that some people were dope dealers and some people were

pushers and this and that. But there was always a motive and a story

behind it. So, I’d like to see it get to some authentic s**t.

Adisa Banjoko is an author, lecturer and co-founder of the Hip Hop Chess Federation: