January 18, 2013

Deen mean-mugged through this whole blog post.

Confession: I’ve never really been into MC Eiht’s music. Not in his solo or Compton’s Most Wanted incarnations. I heard “Straight Up Menace” off the Menace II Society soundtrack like everyone else, but I generally missed out on his 90s stuff for the twin reasons of being too young and Eiht not being popular enough to crack Nigerian airwaves. Besides “Straight Up Menace,” Eiht’s only claim to fame in my consciousness was his little tiff with DJ Quik and I’ve always been down with Quik. Why? Quik had a better hairdresser and made better music. The latter point may be debatable, but the former isn’t.

The chill in my relationship with Eiht’s stuff thawed some in spring 2010 when he dropped “So Well.” At the time, I couldn’t explain exactly what caught my attention: his assured as fuck delivery, the warm and familiar Bobby Womack sample, that thumping bassline or some combination of all that shit. But it was easily one of my favorite songs that year and it still cracks the occasional playlist outchea. I dug that song so much that I gave Eiht’s discography the full rap nerd treatment and listened to most of his stuff, dating all the way back to the Compton’s Most Wanted shit. I sorta concluded that I’d just stick to his newer shit, you know, the way a lotta kids these days won’t even bother with Juicy J’s Three 6 Mafia stuff. But I’ll still claim credit for giving the man a thorough listen – Section 8 was pretty dope, the rest were kinda meh.

Around the time “So Well” dropped, Eiht and DJ Premier announced that they’d be working together, so I’ve been paying attention since. I think I’ve caught one other loose track since 2010 and that’s it. Then I was minding my business like I always do when I stumbled into something about a Keep It Hood EP serving as a prelude to Eiht’s next LP. Sniffed around a bit and next thing I know, I was paying $8 on iTunes for said EP. Its been a long minute since I heard snippets of anything and immediately decided I was going to buy that shit. That’s exactly what happened with this shit. Kinda shocking, given that I kinda need to decide long in advance that I’m going to purchase some shit before I even sniff my credit card.

Thankfully, the EP lived up to the snippets. MC Eiht plays his regular ass role of part Compton tour guide, part motivational speaker and part inadvertent gang recruiter, again, with gruff authority and matter of factness. Brenk (Sinatra – I’m fairly certain he added the “Sinatra” part recently) provides a smorgasboard of warm keys, dirty guitar samples, robotic funk and the occasional (and very welcome I might add) scratches from DJ Premier. Maybe we should restrict Premo to scratching/Preme-hook-construction duty henceforth. Preme’s production proper may have gotten a bit stale, but those scratched hooks will never sound old to this nerd.

That said, Brenk and MC Eiht’s chemistry is fairly impressive throughout and I probably shouldn’t be surprised given that Brenk was responsible for “So Well.” Not bad for an Austrian dude. The last dope musician outta Austria was Mozart. Took you fuckers long enough.

So I guess I’m telling y’all to go get this. Yeah, do that. It’s an early favorite for me and I guarantee that I won’t treat this veteran MC’s project the way I did Erick Sermon’s Breath of Fresh Air last year. That shit was pretty excellent too. Too bad five people listened to it. Here’s to more folks giving Keep It Hood a listen and to the actual full length project being even more impressive. If you choose to heed my advice, be careful resist the urge to join a gang. I struggled a bit. MC Eiht makes that shit sound so cool. I bet Wayne and Birdman were listening to Eiht records when they decided to become graduate level Bloods…

MP3: MC Eiht – “The Reign”

We rely on your support to keep POW alive. Please take a second to donate on Patreon!