Eazy E’s vision pointed all eyes to Compton. As a result, everybody benefitted. One of the biggest beneficiaries was Eazy’s friend and peer, MC Eiht. Compton’s Most Wanted remains a group with a 20 year history of representing the neighborhood alongside NWA and Eazy E.
Although he never signed with Ruthless, MC Eiht remained a friend, a supporter, and an admirer of Eazy until the day he left us. Of all of Eazy’s friends and peers, MC Eiht seems to best embody the spirit that Eazy E used to keep himself timeless.
In part three of our series, AllHipHop.com discussed the early days, the civic pride, and the bond that MC Eiht and Eazy E shared from day one to the very end. Hear about one of the greatest who ever did it, from one of the greatest still at it – Compton, we salute you!
AllHipHop.com: Had you and Eazy known each other before the music?
MC Eiht: Well, yeah I had known Eazy when he first started rappin’ around the neighborhood. I had known Eazy from the streets and around the way before he made it big or picked up NWA.
AllHipHop.com: Was it a relationship based at the artistic level or the street level?
MC Eiht: Basically, just being from the streets. Being from Compton, we’re big, but we’re small. Everybody knows a little of everybody. Just by name and recognition of people from different neighborhoods, and being affiliated into the same side I guess. You hear of people, and know them. Me being inclined to start getting into the Gangsta Rap with Toddy Tee, being from my neighborhood, and him knowing people like [Mixmaster] S#### and all those people, it was a street credibility thing.
AllHipHop.com: Can you recall the first time you guys actually spoke?
MC Eiht: First time I actually met Eazy was… [MC] Ren’s girlfriend used to live across the street from Chill, who’s from Compton’s Most Wanted, my group. Ren used to come by all the time when me and Chill had just started to get into the Rap thing. Eazy used to be with him. The first time we actually met, Eazy told us they was gettin’ ready to shoot the “We Want Eazy” video. He told us to come down and all that.
AllHipHop.com: Did you go?
MC Eiht: Oh yeah, definitely.
AllHipHop.com: It’s interesting that there was extended hands. Today, everybody is so territorial and driven to rivalry, let alone the B-boy attitude in the late 80’s.
MC Eiht: Competition is imminent. But as far as being from Compton and both of us being from neighborhoods and what-have-you, he was just trying to extend an invitation. He never offered us a deal or nothing like that. He knew we was trying to do our thing. We was our own entity. Whenever they was at the studio, or whenever they toured, Ren would always include us. Eazy would invite us to keep us in tuned to when was going on.
AllHipHopHop.com: Was that relationship retained throughout the next ten years?
MC Eiht: Definitely. Anytime Eazy was involved, it was something we could be a part of. I did concerts with Eazy and Bone [Thugs & Harmony]. We been to the studio, we been out to dinner, we been out to clubs. We always maintained a cool relationship.
AllHipHop.com: You never actually recorded together, did you?
MC Eiht: No. I was in the process of writing some songs for Eazy right around the time when he was passin’. I wrote about three songs for him that he was getting ready to listen to. Unfortunately, it didn’t pan out.
AllHipHop.com: In 1998, you, King Tee, and Dresta the Gangsta did “Straight Outta Compton” on that tribute album.
MC Eiht: Right. That was an honor, a privilege. NWA and Eazy were the first to make it nationally known of Compton and what we was about.
AllHipHop.com: At the same time though, you were signed to Orpheus maybe even before Eazy had a deal in place. How did he help you?
MC Eiht: Basically, we were signed to Orpheus/Capitol. But I don’t think without the recognition of what Eazy did as far as NWA and puttin’ Compton on the map, and showing these record labels another side to the B-boy world and the world of New York. I grew up on New York Rap as opposed to our neighborhood heroes. Let’s face it, we didn’t have record deals on the West Coast. We had Egyptian Lover and the LA Dream Team, that wasn’t significant to what was exposed when Eazy came out. Eazy had videos! He made record execs want to come to Compton. That’s where CMW was born. We were makin’ garage tapes, and 12″ singles for Techno-Hop [Records] but, it was in the back of my fondest dreams that we’d [become stars].
AllHipHop.com: Why is Eazy remembered only in the shadows of Tupac or Biggie?
MC Eiht: I think because of the way Eazy died, I think a lot people strayed away from his significance and what he did for West Coast Hip-Hop. We love Tupac and Biggie [because] they were the 90’s for us. Tupac was the rider with all that controversy with jail and whatnot. But Eazy had that controversy. [Look] at the way they died. If Eazy would’ve got shot up on the corner, people would be on a different scale. People say, “Eazy died of AIDs,” it scares people to the fact that nobody wants to recognize that this guy opened the door for West Coast Hip-Hop. Tupac, Snoop, CMW, when we was sitting at home dreaming, Eazy was on world tours. I feel he deserves the recognition of [them]. It’s f**ked up.
AllHipHop.com: Like Puffy, I don’t own a gun. Yes, I could step outside and get shot. We all could. But I think we’re more likely to contract a deadly STD than to die in a gunfight. It’s ironic.
MC Eiht: Right, definitely! I mean, it could it happen. But I don’t think I’m gonna walk out my house to my mailbox and get shot in the community I live in. I don’t portray that. Even now, when I ride through the streets of Compton, I don’t have the feeling that I might get blasted. Like you said, it’s more probable to get AIDs than to get shot in our lifestyle. Now if you out there on the corner, bangin’ it up like we used to do, and we askin’ for it – yeah, you got that chance. It’s just sad that people know Eazy died of AIDs, so let’s forget about this brother that at one time, [was the king]. Tupac and Biggie was hardcore. Biggie was smooth, crack slangin’, that comes from the opening of doors from Eazy E. New York was on straight Hip-Hop. I love Public Enemy, Audio Two, Treacherous Three, Marley Marl, to me s**t didn’t get hard til’ Rakim came out. But Eazy E made it cool for n***as to say, “I’m from Marcy!” He said, I’m from Compton. We from this block, we sell dope, police harass us, n***as get killed, girls be ho’ing. It’s not all about grabbing some turntables, going outside the park, and havin’ fun.
AllHipHop.com: Despite the formalities of his death, what was Compton like in the wake of Eazy E? Was it somber, was it crazy like Brooklyn was on Biggie’s day?
MC Eiht: There was a lot of people at his funeral. People celebrated, people came together, people were sad. I mean, it wasn’t parades of people like Biggie. We different people.
AllHipHop.com: Compton’s laid out differently, too.
MC Eiht: Definitely. He knew a lot of people, not on just the strength of the industry. Some from the streets. People paid homage like that. There was a tribute. People came out. It wasn’t as flamboyant as the Biggie thing. Like you said, the city is laid out different. Plus, our police ain’t gonna let a lot of that s**t go down. They get nervous when crowds gather. You got a Crip’s funeral in a different neighborhood, and you don’t know who heads are gonna bump together.
AllHipHop.com: At the time Eazy died, you were signed to Sony. Was there a responsibility on your part, or any apprehension to hold up the Compton name?
MC Eiht: I’ve been making those records since my career began. I’ve always been representing Compton. I stick to my point of view. With Eazy passing, I always felt like it was a duty to uphold Compton. That’s what he did. That’s why I got a tattoo of Eazy.
AllHipHop.com: Before we conclude, how’s Veteranz Day doing, and what’s your reaction to it six months later?
MC Eiht: My reaction, even though it was an independent project that I put out myself, I got real good response from this record that I haven’t gotten in a long time. It was a real West Coast record. I was satisfied that I didn’t get negative response. Today, people are still getting into the record.
AllHipHop.com: So are you working on anything else right now?
MC Eiht: Right now, I’m working on my next record, Once Upon a Time in the West. I’m also working on a Compton’s Most Wanted record called Neighborhood Watch. Get it done.
AllHipHop.com: What’s your favorite Eazy E song?
MC Eiht: “Still Talkin’ S**t.” To me, that was my favorite Eazy song because it was him. Ice Cube and Ren was on the hook actin’ like they was 60-70’s grandpas talkin’ ‘bout this young n***a from Compton who be talkin’ s**t, and he don’t give a f**k about the police, or nothin’. It was Eazy, at the time.