West Coast pioneer MC Eiht is deeply respected for classics like "Hood Took Me Under" and "Def Wish." The Compton emcee, actor and businessman was mentioned in a recent interview with Hip Hop production icon DJ Premier [click to read] as a potential partner for an upcoming album.
Earlier this week, Eiht took some time to confirm the likelihood of such a cross-coastal collaboration with HipHopDX. "I really think it’s up to the fans to just demand and want the record. True fans of Eiht or Premier, who’ve been following us over our careers, they know what we’re about, and I think it’s just for the fans, that people get to talking about it and wanting to hear it. Like, somebody called me and said they heard it on G-Unit Radio last weekend, so it’s like word of mouth is traveling. Me and Premier just talked about it like a week ago, so I think it’s something [that] if the fans want it and they keep requesting it, and they keep wanting to see it, and they’re positive about it, it can happen because it’s always supply and demand.
As rumored collaborative albums in the past with Nas and Royce Da 5'9" have been halted or delayed, Eiht knows Premier's repuation. "He’s busy. I mean, Premier does tracks for 50 [Cent], and Fat Joe, and whoever else. He’s a big-time producer, so I’m just honored to be in good graces with him, to know him for so long that he wants to extend his hand to work with me, so when people come back and tell me, ‘Aw man, that’s hot, man, we want to see that happen,’ it’s just my ambition to push it, and basically, if the fans say they want it and they keep communicating that they want it, it’s going to happen. It’s my hundred percent ambition to put this project out, and just like we talked again a couple days ago, it’s on the fast track right now. We’re a hundred miles and running and we’re probably going to get it done."
However, liner-note readers and '90s Hip Hop fans know that this union has manifested decades ago. "I’ve been knowing Premier since I got started rapping. We did our first concerts together back in the Celebrity Theater in Anaheim," revealed MC Eiht, who has been releasing material on record since 1986. "[Gang Starr] came to the west coast and their first show, so I’ve been knowing Premier since him and Guru [click to read] was together, since they first started."
Thus far the two have one record together, a 1992 remix. "Every time I go to New York, I kick it with him, we chat, you know, whatever. We used him to do the “Def Wish [II] ” remix on the Music to Driveby record. It’s just a mutual friendship I’ve been having with Premier."
As DJ Premier has since worked with west coast artists like Dilated Peoples, Snoop Dogg [click to read] and Ras Kass, Too Short and MC Eiht were among the first. Eiht recalled to DX how his 1992 "Def Wish II" remix came to be. "At the time, Epic [Records] was based in New York. [That] was their main office, so me going to New York every year doing promo tours and just keeping in contact with Premier. The A&Rs who ran the Rap Department knew that basically, me and Premier had a straight friendship, so they stepped to Premier and asked him to remix the record. I didn’t even have to ask him; they stepped to him and asked him to remix the record because our relationship was based more on friendship than me trying to exploit, you know, ‘Aw man, do a favor for me, do a favor.'" He continued, "We was basically just homies, kicking it, smoking blunts, riding around in his [Mazda] MPV van. That was our thing."
For Compton's Most Wanted, the song only added to their regional acceptance in New York at a time when coastal fences were much taller than today. "As far as New York is concerned, I was one of the very few artists who got respect from a lot of New York cats, so it really just boosted up my credibility with a lot of cats in New York for a nigga like me, you know, ‘This is MC Eiht-gangsta rapper, west coast, strictly gangbanging, drive-bys and shit like that.’ So for me to get with Premier and for him to remix the record, it opened people’s eyes and their ears to the versatility of what Eiht and Compton’s Most Wanted could do as far, as production was concerned. Everybody always thought we had off-the-wall production, but as far as getting one of the hottest producers [too, only built upon that]." Eiht credited some of his peers in that early national movement. "Ice Cube went to the Bomb Squad [click to read], King Tee had Marley [Marl remixes], but it was basically like unheard of, so for Premier to do that for us and to do the 'Def Wish' remix was like, man. It was hot."
Right now though, Eiht remains ever-active in his pursuit of delivering high quality and quantities of music. "Right now, I’m working on finishing up the second mixtape, All-Stars and Straps Vol. 2," said Eiht. "The Warzone project was put on hold for a minute, but we finished it up finally, so we’re waiting for that to see where it’s going to happen," he added of the Snoop Dogg-endorsed group of Eiht, Kam and Goldie Loc. "The Warzone record is a good album and it’s representing the west coast to the fullest and it’s not just sticking on to what people try to stereotype about west coast music, you know, gangbangs, bandanas and all that bullshit. It’s dealing with a lot of issues, as far as females, and what happens to hustling, and what happens to guys when they’re caught up in the system. It’s a versatile album, so I think when people really sink their teeth into it, they’ll be able to get into it real tough."
Before leaving, Eiht also spoke on CMW's status as a group, having worked in three, soon-to-be-four decades. "The status [of the group] is that we still communicate. I’m still in communication with everybody. We’ve worked on songs. It’s like we’ll do two or three songs, and then, I’ll get to doing my stuff, and the other guys will get to doing their stuff, but then, we’ll still have the ambition to come together and put together a project."
He continued, "We’re just waiting for the right time to put the project together, ‘cause like you said, I want it to be in anticipation of something people are going to expect and they’re going to appreciate and they’re not just going to get hauled up in the masses of this singer-talk rapping, [with] no promotion or whatever. Something that people are going to accept and they’re not going to look and go, ‘Aw, these some old cats. They don’t know what they’re talking about,’ because it seems like a lot of cats don’t want to pave the way for the pioneers. But then a lot of these cats nowadays ain’t really talking about nothing. They ain’t informing the youth about nothing. They’ll teach them a dance step or how to wear a chain. That’s where it goes, so Compton’s Most Wanted and Warzone and myself, we try to make songs that are still going to be resourceful to artists and to fans that are going to buy the project. I try to make music to where I’m informing people where it’s going to go, why it’s happening, what it’s going on."
HipHopDX will keep you updated.