MC Eiht: Unstoppable Gangsta

April 4th marks the release of MC Eiht’s 19th album – including his collaborative work with Comptons Most Wanted, Spice-1, and even an alias album under the “Tony Smallz” moniker. While that’s awe-inspiring in deed, what’s much more impressive is that MC Eiht can recall the lyrics to anything he’s recorded – and comes prepared […]

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April 4th marks the release of MC Eiht’s 19th album – including his collaborative work with Comptons Most Wanted, Spice-1, and even an alias album under the “Tony Smallz” moniker. While that’s awe-inspiring in deed, what’s much more impressive is that MC Eiht can recall the lyrics to anything he’s recorded – and comes prepared at his live shows. Just ask him.

The Compton native celebrated the release of his new album, Affiliated with a discussion with We consider what Koch distribution may offer the unstoppable underground veteran – and where his priorities lie. Eiht touches on whether Hip-Hop has exploited his hood, and reveals a possible CMW reunion and Big Snoop Dogg’s recognition of his 20 years of work. As a wise man once said, “We’re all from the hood, the difference is, we go back.” Peep game! You told me with the last album that although The Chill produced the bulk of the album, you had a heavy hand in production. You’ve got him, Battlecat, Prodeje, and others on Affiliated. Did you still retain your oversight?

MC Eiht: Every time I do a record, I’m always involved. I try to let other n***as get they shine on too, as far as production credits and all that. I don’t really be trippin’. I have the business side. Anything I do as far as music, I always got a hand in – throw a n***a a sample, or when I’m tryin’ to tell him which drum kick to use, or how I want the riff to go. You’ve been doing this since the late 80’s. Anytime there’s a magazine photo layout of you, it features you in Compton. From what I’ve heard, you don’t live there anymore. Do you take offense that you’re constantly associated with the ‘hood despite the fact that nobody’s asking Jay-Z to do his shoots in Marcy, or 50 Cent in Jamaica, Queens?

MC Eiht: I think, on a positive note, it’s just good to big up where you from. You can’t forget it. A lot of brothers talk about where they from, where they came up or whatever, but they’re forced to go to videos or studios or soundstages or Miami to do videos [and photo shoots]. I guess it’s because they’re afraid of what going back to the neighborhood might bring. But me stayin’ affiliated and stayin’ in touch with n***as who still in the hood, and me still dippin’ through Compton everyday, and Long Beach and LA and s**t like that, it just makes it easier for when I wanna go back to the hood and do somethin’ – or shoot an album cover or do some magazine shots. It’s because I’m still there. They don’t consider me an outsider. But at the same time, you’re doing executive production and been a part of so many projects. Do you think Hip-Hop would ever be comfortable to see MC Eiht sitting behind an oak desk, signing checks? Do you feel pigeonholed?

MC Eiht: Aw naw! They wouldn’t appreciate that with me. I’ve been hearin’ that from fans for decades. Even though people know I run my own label, and I’m the executive producer and all that, I’m negotiating deals from the block. I don’t have the fancy office with the oak desk and all that. You know what I’m sayin’? I’m conductin’ deals while sittin’ in the living room of the homie’s house, playin’ Playstation – or at the studio, or in the car, dippin’ through Compton, or at the swap meet. I don’t get down with the oak desk and all that. That ain’t my forte. My fans and my people don’t see me like that. They see me real everyday. My favorite track on the new album is “Respected.” I’m a huge Comptons Most Wanted fan. You’ve used The Chill and DJ Slip and other group personnel on your records throughout your solo career. But what told you to bring back the whole unit?

MC Eiht: We’ve been get back together the last couple years. Chill said, “We need to do a song, and we need to call it ‘Respected,’ ‘cause these young cats don’t respect the craft, and they’re doing what [CMW] do.” I figured, let’s just throw all the original members of CMW on it and get down like that. DJ Mike T gets a shout out on the track, but there’s no scratching on the record. Was he there?

MC Eiht: Mike T was in the studio with us. He did scratchin’ on two or three cuts on the album, but he didn’t get down on that record. Like I said, just shoutin’ out everybody and keepin’ that authentic CMW – we needed to put everybody on there. You had one album called Last Man Standing. A lot of people associate you with solitude. That said, does it mean anything inside to have the brethren back alongside you?

MC Eiht: It was real good to have Slip on there contributin’ on the beats – to have Chill there, and Bam, myself, and Mike T. It was a good vibe. We actually recordin’ on this Comptons Most Wanted album right now. People miss the Music To Driveby days and the Straight Check’n ‘Em days. I recently received a CD from a guy out of St. Louis, DJ Crucial. On his CD, he had produced a white-label 12” of a record with you called, “Life I Chose.” It’s my favorite record you’ve done in ten years. This is a cat who is known for working with MF Doom, Atmosphere, and so on. How’d you get down, and why?

MC Eiht: I was on a promo tour for Veterans Day. My main focus my whole career has been just to link up with anybody and everybody I can. It’s not even on a money tip, it was just my goal to hook up with everybody who wanted to hook up with me. When I went to St. Louis, my man hooked me up with him. We went to his little studio, and he was tellin’ me how he releases white-label 12”, that just blew me like, “Damn, most brothers don’t do that anymore.” I come from that era. It was authentic to me. I just wanted to write a song looking at all his vinyl and his respect for DJing and all that, and made me wanna take it back. That’s the life I chose. I’m tryin’ to be authentic with it. I ain’t tryin’ to switch and catch up to the new times – so these young cats can see how this Hip-Hop really started. Particularly at AllHipHop, we thought Veterans Day was one of your better albums in the last few years. You seemed distraught about the distribution of the record though. How confident are you with Koch in getting that reach again?

MC Eiht: I really don’t trip off the numbers and all that – even though that’s what you do as an executive. My first thing is rappin’ hard. My records gonna reach who they need to reach. Back in the 80’s and 90’s, we used to push records out the trunk every week on 12”s, on word of mouth. People used to call me from Virginia and Mississippi and Florida, tellin’ me about the records. I just big up on my longevity in the rap field and my presence. Koch do what they got to do – on the underground tip, ‘cause that’s where I see myself. I’m confident that this record will make a point and a stand at what my goal is. I know we ain’t gonna do a million copies – ‘cause we ain’t got the machine behind us, but we can do enough units to satisfy our fans and get back on the bicycle and come back with another one. As long as I can keep makin’ records man, that’s it for me. You’ve released over 18 of those records. I have to ask – are you ever scared that when you do promo tours, fans will request a song you’ve completely forgotten?

MC Eiht: I keep the iPod with every song I ever did. What I do is, I load the machine with all the stuff. If we get to a point where fans request a song, bingo – we just break it out. With me bein’ on deck with the iPod and keep listenin’ to my music before I perform, I do my homework. My show pattern might be me doin’ two songs off of each record off the line – but I might not get that song that somebody wants to hear. If people in the audience are yellin’ for it, I always got the back-up plan. That way, we please everybody. My thing is, I ain’t tryin’ to disappoint the fans – ‘cause they paid they money, and there’s certain things they want to hear. You gotta be prepared. I really respect that. I’m a big fan of Sway testing people on The Wake-Up Show.

MC Eiht: You got to know your stuff. I watch people like Cube, Too Short, and LL [Cool J], and they go from way back to up till now, to in the middle. You gotta be able to do it like that – when you got as much material. People request “Driveby Miss Daisy” or “Can I Kill It?” or “Another Victim.” You gotta have them instrumentals on deck. Do you still perform beef songs?

MC Eiht: If they love it, and the audience is requestin’ it, I’m gettin’ down with it. That’s how I do. Fans come first. April is Hip-Hop Appreciation Month. I ask this question respectfully. But do you think the media would treat you differently had it not been DJ Slip and Unknown DJ’s name on those credits, and had it been Dr. Dre?

MC Eiht: Definitely. If I would have worked with Dr. Dre and DJ Quik and Jay-Z… I mean on name alone, because the production you had is legendary…

MC Eiht: It’s all about the name. You can’t tell me that a Slip or a Chill or a Raw Steel can’t do a hot-ass track that would stand right next to a Dr. Dre or whoever. This world is corporate. Because Eiht ain’t been down with the Dr. Dre’s and the big name people, it’s hard for people to respect it. It’s hard for people to respect that I put out 19 albums. If you look for that s**t, then you’ll be upset by it. But I don’t look for American Music Awards, or the Grammy’s – I don’t look for s**t. I don’t even look for radio-play. I just look to do the music I do, and reach the masses of the people who respect it. You’ve been seen around LA with Snoop a lot lately. He’s a big part of Koch’s future right now. Is there something you two have brewing?

MC Eiht: Me and Snoop, we messin’ around for the last couple of weeks – tryin’ to get together the state of the West Coast as we know it. We’re lookin’ at radio-play and the records that people like me do. A brother like Snoop seein’ that, steps in with his power and ability to make m’f**kas get down – it definitely may be something goin’ down in the future. It’s there, we just keepin’ it under wraps right now.