This is an interview I conducted with Rap veteran and West Coast legend MC Eiht on October 23, 2004. Here is the audio.
MC Eiht: I'm just chillin', playboy. What's goin' down witchu?
D: Same thing. Just got finished watchin' the World Series, you know. Game 1
MC Eiht: That's right, that's right. Mellowin' out. That's about it. I just caught a little bit of the game myself.
D: Excellent. So let's jump right into this. Tell us about the new album Veterans Day, who did the production, who are the guests, is there anything different about this album that would separate it out from other MC Eiht or CMW albums?
MC Eiht: Basically, Veterans Day was produced by Chill from Compton's Most Wanted and myself & Prodeje from South Central Cartel. we ain't got no features on there. Just Chill's featured on like three songs. Basically, all the rappin' was handled by myself. Basically, this album is what people been missin' from the West Coast and true West Coast music. Basically, this album is out there, as fas as what everybody been listenin' to and what's been goin' on with the radio and everything, so this album is on the same pace as all the other MC Eiht and Compton's Most Wanted records, but basically it's a new change from what's been happenin'. So it's a little different from what's been goin' on in the industry.
D: So it's an updated Eiht?!
MC Eiht: Definitely!
D: Excellent. What’s this other album MC Eiht Presents Tony Smallz: Smoke In Tha City?
MC Eiht: That's just a little project I did about a year and a half ago. Just a little independent project I did. Just hangin' in the studio, goin' on the road hookin' up with dudes. So, basically, it's just like a little mixtape thing I did.
D: Alright, cool. I just read that you did a voice for a character in the upcoming Grand Theft Auto San Andreas game, how did that come about?
MC Eiht: Well that was pretty cool. You know what I'm sayin'! Everybody follows the Grand Theft Auto game, you know. Real popular game you know, with the car jackin's and all the scenes, what have you not. This one is a little different, because they're basin' it on West Coast themes. You know with the neighborhoods and the gang affiliations and all that stuff. So it was just natural for them to try to hook up with people who are livin' on the West Coast or had experience being in that type of situation. So I hooked up with the people from Rock Star Games. They called me up and said they was gonna use one of my songs, "The Hood Took Me Under", for the soundtrack. So with them usin' the song and havin' the characters they just fit me into one of the characters real nicely. So it came out cool.
D: So did you just go in like a little vocal booth and record some lines?
MC Eiht: Well, I'm basically like thoughout the whole game, so it was really like two days and like five hours of doin' stuff. Basically it's like actin' in movie. You had a script and everything.
D: I see. Do you play video games yourself?
MC Eiht: Yeah, I play.
D: Cool. What kinda games do you like?
MC Eiht: I play a lot of sports games, really.
D: Me too.
MC Eiht: I play all EA Sports games. Anything got to do with EA I'm on it.
D: You’ve already told me, but can you tell our listeners and website visitors the situation with Tha Chill's long-delayed solo album?
MC Eiht: Well, basically, Chill was locked down, he had to do some time. When he finally got out he hooked up with the people from Bungalo and I forgot the other independent label he had hooked up with, and he was gonna put out a record. Bungalo was distributed through Universal, but some mishaps happened between Bungalo and the third party label to where it got tied up. Then Chill went back into jail, thus halting his promoting the record. I guess the company felt that they didn't wanna release the record and not have him around to promote the project, so it basically got shelved.
D: So, will it be released or is it just done?
MC Eiht: I don't know. Me and Chill are workin' on a record for him, but I don't know if Bungalo is actually goin' to release The Wind Chill Factor.
D: Alright. I know the album just dropped, but is there anything else you’re working on right now?
MC Eiht: Right now I'm workin' on the next MC Eiht record, which is due out sometime next year, we're workin' on a new Compton's Most Wanted record and then me and Chill's workin' on a group record called E.C.M.P. (Eiht And Chill Making Paper). So you know we got a couple of things goin'.
D: Damn. You're busy out here, huh?
MC Eiht: Yeah, yeah. I'm tryin' to stay busy. (I'm) workin' with a couple of groups from Pittsburg. You know, just tryin' to keep doin' my thing.
D: Excellent. Keep it poppin'. What’s your favorite MC Eiht album?
MC Eiht: My favorite MC Eiht album is probably this one right here (Veterans Day) and (Compton's Most Wanted's) Music To Driveby.
D: Is there a particular song you like the best, that you've done?
MC Eiht: On Veterans Day might two favorite songs is "Living Like G'staz" and "It's Alright".
D: How did you get the name MC Eiht?
MC Eiht: Comin' from the era I came from everybody was Rap Master This or Fresh This or Kid Ice This or whatever so I just wanted to be different. KRS-ONE was the only rapper at the time symbolizin' himself with a number by sayin' he was number one. So I basically just came up with MC Eiht just tryin' to be different. You know 8Ball, .38 strap just tryin' to relate the number eight to the hood orientation of it. You know we sold 8Ball, 8-tracks, we packed .38 straps, so MC Eiht.
D: Is there any reason you left out the "G"?
MC Eiht: No reason.
D: Being from Compton, which is basically the birthplace of Gangsta Rap, did you ever feel pressure to live up to N.W.A. and what they had done?
MC Eiht: I never felt pressure. I just wanted to represent Compton in the form of how they were doin' it 'cause they was worldwide with it. To have them out there on the forefront representin' Compton, to be a significant force from Compton, I always wanted to have that title. I felt pressure to make my songs and make my raps, what I represented from my part of the neighborhood you know. I wanted to get that out there, but as far as just feelin' hard pressure to try to compete with them, I never felt pressure like that because we was from the same city tryin' to represent Compton as a whole.
D: More of a team effort!?
MC Eiht: Right.
D: Coming out when Gangsta Rap was basically brand new, was there ever any concern that it might not last?
MC Eiht: Being from the streets and from Compton, knowin' that there's ghettos all over the United States, knowin' that there's always gonna be brothers who struggle and who can't graduate from high school and go to college and play basketball and football and have their own record label and get in it like that, whether you wanna call it gangs or hoods or just niggaz in a group hangin', I always felt that my type of music was always gonna be around, because there's always niggaz like me that can relate to situations that I grew up in. You's always gonna have somebody in another state and another city that's goin' through the same thing that you go through. That's why a lot of musicians who speak the real can relate. Because they touchin' people that they don't even know. So I never was nervous about Gangsta Rap goin' or leavin' or Hip Hop ever goin' anywhere period, because once it came it was here to stay. Like I say, me bein' from the type of place where I come from, knowin' there's a place like that everywhere, 'cause I done been all over the country tourin' and I deal with brothers that relate and go through the same situations I go through so I felt it was always gon' be here. But to have the force and the impact that it did is good, because it's done like a roller coaster ride it was banned at first now it's kinda excepted a little bit and it's had it's transition of fallin' off and coming back. It's just like a roller coaster ride sometimes it's gon' be up sometimes it's gon' be down, but as long as it's workin' and the maintenance is up it's always gon' be there.
D: True indeed. Did you have any specific goals, musically, when you first started rapping?
MC Eiht: Basically, I just wanted to have a record out. As long as I could have a record out, it wasn't about limos and tour busses, flyin' on planes and havin' big chains. Basically, my goal was just to get a record out so everybody could hear where I was comin' from. So everybody could know about Compton, what we was doin' in Compton, how we was representin' and how we was puttin' it down. Basically, my goal was just to get a record out. Once I saw my face on a record then I felt my goal was completed.
D: What would you be doing if you didn’t make it with music?
MC Eiht: That's a big story, 'cause I was hangin' in the hood just like any other brother, but I wasn't just a stupid naive kid. I had a moms and a pops who worked hard and who taught me values. So who knows what I woulda been doin'? Havin' a nine to five, hustlin' whatever, but tryin' to avoid the jail house, I'll tell you that.
D: Who are some of your musical influences?
MC Eiht: I have to say the Fat Boys, Treacherous Three, Schoolly D, Eric B. & Rakim, Totty T, Mixmaster Spade those was my early influences.
D: A lot of East Coast cats. That's why we needed it over here.
MC Eiht: That's all we had on the West Coast, not to hate. I can't discriminate on East Coast music, 'cause that's what brought it into the game. I mean everybody knows that, so that's nothin' to hate about.
D: No not at all.
MC Eiht: We had our own forms of music on the West Coast to begin with the Rap. We had Bobby, Jimmy & The Critters and Egyptian Lover and people like that. We didn't have the Schoolly D's and the Treacherous Three's and the Grandmaster Flashes and the Fearless Fours and all that. We didn't have that. We had the funny rap and the comedian rap and stuff like that, so it was a big transition for us when Eazy came in the door.
D: Oh yeah huge. How do you feel about the state of the Rap game now?
MC Eiht: The state of the Rap game now is just wishy washy, man, because there's a lot of perpetration. There's a lot of just flossin' and fabulizin' and look at what I got. There's no more foundation about the struggle. How hard it took us to put Rap on. How hard it took us to keep this thing goin'. Right now it's about fakism. Either you in love or you wanna be tough or you tryin' to have everybody dream about bentleys and private jets and crystal pourin' at private parties. The Rap game is real phony, you know what I'm sayin'?!
D: Yeah and it's sad to see it goin' from cats like you mentioned and Public Enemy and cats that really brought it up to have it...
D: What about specifically Gangsta Rap, how do you think that is now?
MC Eiht: Gangsta Rap is excepted now, because you got a lot of perpetration in it. Because it comes from another section and they don't label it Gangsta Rap it's excepted. East Coast cats can do Gangsta Rap now and it's excepted, because they're not gangsters. They're hardcore, they wear timbos and fatigues and they'll cut you up and stuff like that, but they don't have sets. So it's excepted now. You know 50 Cent, bulletproof vests, 'I shot you', 'I'll shoot your mama', 'I sold dope'. We've been doin' that since the late 80's and we used to get banned from T.V. and videos wouldn't get played and police snatch us off stage at concerts and stuff like that. The transition of how Gangsta Rap or what they try to call it these days is kinda crazy, because when I used to try to put it down they didn't want me to get ahead with it, but now you can sell six million records from it.
D: To me it seems like when it first started, with N.W.A. and Compton's Most Wanted, it seems like you were more telling about what's goin' on. 'This is what we hafta go through out here' and now it's more like 'Yeah, I'm big and bad and I'm killin' people and sellin' all this and doin' all this.' It's more braggadocious.
MC Eiht: Right, right. The transition changed like I said. It changed 'cause back then the people in the media didn't want to know what we were goin' through in these inner city ghettos, but like you said, right about now it's not like that. It's all about 'Yeah, I'm big, I'm bad, I'll shoot you up and I got my platinum watch on while I do it.' So, you know, it's kinda crazy.
D: What about the state of the West Coast? We hear a lot about how they're doin' it big over here in New York and down South and it seems like, from what people are saying that the West just doesn't get as much attention. Enough attention. As much as it deserves. Do you think we're neglected out here?
MC Eiht: Well, that's just how it's been as far as East Coast, how they feel about our music. I mean the East Coast feels they started the trend and we should follow the trend of how they make music and how they do they thang, which is respectable, but we live on a different time zone than brothers on the East Coast. We dance to a different beat. You know what I'm sayin'? It's kinda different from what we doin' in the game and what the East Coast brothers do in the game. It's kinda crazy how we get hated on, because East Coast brothers have never excepted out music. Like the problems we had back in the days with the Tim Dawg thing and all that. They never felt like we were rappin' about anything, because all we talked about was gangs and colors and red and blue and all that, so we never got respected on the East Coast. Now if you're not a Dr. Dre or a Snoop Dogg or Ice Cube, because those are the only people who the East Coast will respect and 2Pac, but 2Pac was from everywhere. I've never had a problem with it, because I know a lot of East Coast rappers. I get respect from a lot of East Coast rappers. We chat. We sit down. We holler on the phone. That's just the way the transition has been all these years. I mean you can't expect it to get played on East Coast radio or get blown up in the East Coast magazines or anything like that, because the East Coast feels like 'We're the father and you the child and when you don't listen and you don't follow in the father's footsteps and when you wanna be the rebelious son then you not gon' get all the privleges that has to offer within the family.' So that's what happens with us as far as the East Coast is concerned.
D: How do you think Rap/Hip—Hop could be improved as a whole?
MC Eiht: I think it could be improved as a whole when we can stop the payola and we can stop the favortism in Hip-Hop. When it can go back to the days of everybody getting an equal shot of tryin' to get on. If your record is good it's good and it don't matter if you got a million dollars compared to my ten thousand dollar budget. If my project is good it's gonna compete with yours if it's good too. I feel like that'll be better when these magazines and these radio stations and these people recognize that it's a whole lotta other talent out here than like the big five or the power five or whatever they wanna call it. When we can stop discriminatin' on the smaller man or the man who don't have the two billion dollars, but he has the same tallent. Like Jada say 'there's other brothers that can't get that break', because people don't wanna notice them, because they stuck on what they been feedin' right now. I think Hip-Hop can change for the better when we can start openin' the doors just for not all the big corporate fives. When everybody can get a shot when they just got talent.
D: I think a big thing that should be done is more unity. Less of this East, West, South, just everybody.
MC Eiht: Yeah, we should learn how to participate on each other's projects a little more and not have all be about money. You know if I got enough money to pay you this hundred thousand for this sixteen verses. It should be a little more unity and a little more exceptance around the globe, because Hip-Hop is just so unified right now. It ain't about West, East, Down, it's about everything. Everybody gettin' into it right now. It needs to be more unity, but we always gonna have knuckleheads in the game that try to prevent that. But as a whole I think we should be able to overcome that.
D: Who's out there right now that you're feelin'?
MC Eiht: To tell you the truth I listen to all old stuff. I don't listen to anything new. There isn't anything new that I listen to. Nothing.
MC Eiht: I mean I haven't bought a CD in who knows when. I mean if I buy anything, it's old. I listen to old stuff. I listen to old OutKast. And I listen to old Eazy and old Compton's Most Wanted, old Geto Boys, old Scarface, old Whodini, old Eric B. & Rakim. That's what I listen to. I don't listen to anything modern right now, because it ain't worth listening to.
D: Alright. Fair enough. Can we talk about an old beef for a second, without brining up any old squables?
MC Eiht: Fo' sho.
D: What sparked the situation with DJ Quik?
MC Eiht: Neighborhood shit. You know bein' a blood, bein' a crip. Him makin' street tapes. Me having a blue cassette tape, when I first came out. It was just neighborhood shit. Typical bood and crip shit.
D: So it wasn't even anything personal?
MC Eiht: No. Nothing personal. He was a blood tryin' to get on. I was a rapper from Compton, who was already on. It's just the name of the game. 'I gotta make some noise 'cause that nigga's on and I gotta make some noise so people notice me when I get on'. So he made little demo tapes talkin' about me. He also talked about Eazy and N.W.A. then he turned around and worked with Eazy. That's how it got started, a nigga tryin' to get his reputation up. It did him. It did me. We went around the table with it for a minute, but niggaz started gettin' killed and niggaz started gettin' in confrontations in clubs. We didn't want that to happen. Somebody already lost they life behind it. Then the shit between Pac & Big, we didn't want that to excell into other people gettin' hurt, because we can't control outside of what we do. I could say somethin' on a record, he could say somethin' on a record, but then after that it's other people who get affected by it. I got homies, who I ain't around everyday, just like he got homies that he around, so we had to squash that beef, 'cause we didn't want other people gettin' hurt behind it.
D: Excellent. Would you work with Quik?
MC Eiht: Oh definitely. We did a song together a long time ago for a little movie soundtrack (probably Head Of State) that he was 'sposta do, but I guess business aspects didn't work out between his people and the soundtrack people, so it never came out. But you know it's no hatred here. It's all Compton.
D: Excellent. I'd love to hear that (hint, hint), too bad it never came out.
MC Eiht: Definitely.
D: So, how did you get involved with Menace II Society?
MC Eiht: Just a lucky break, man. The Hughs Brothers being from Pomona, California, which is another hood, so to speak, and me bein' a person from the West Coast, L.A., Pomona is right outside of L.A. County. Them bein' youngsters listenin' to MC Eiht watchin' MC Eiht videos and all that. They were already avid fans, so when it was time for them to do they movie, and they wanted some real street flavor they just started kickin' the names around in a hat. Actually my part was 'poseta be played by MC Ren. For some reason I guess Ren didn't pan out, so they called me. I went in to read. The rest is history.
D: Did you do any acting before that?
MC Eiht: No.
D: Will you do any acting? Is there anything else in the future for you?
MC Eiht: Oh definitely. I mean if things come along to where I feel I ain't disgracin' myself and it fits along the right storyline and the right character to where I could portray it to where I feel I would be doin' it justice. Definitely.
D: What was your reaction to the 2Pac situation where he attacked the Hughs Brothers?
MC Eiht: Well, I was around durin' the time that happened. Really I didn't understand it, but Pac was a rebel. He just didn't want to go along to what the Hughs Brothers was doin' with the program. And the character that he was playin', he basically didn't wanna be that character, because he was a rebel and he didn't wanna be Shariff the muslim, the cool, calm, political, always givin' everybody the right advice. He didn't wanna play that character. He wanted his character to be more like an A-Wax or an O-Dog. The more and more we went to the readings and rehersals he just could not get with the character. But that was a part of the Hughs Brothers gettin' that movie, was 2Pac bein' able to be in the movie. That's why they were able to be able to do Menace. Their movie based heavily on 2Pac being in the movie, but they couldn't work with him, so they had to get rid of him and he felt like he got played. He had to handle it the way he had to handle it.
D: Well it worked out well anyway. It's an excellent movie.
MC Eiht: Oh definitely it's a classic movie. (It'll) be known forever. (It'll) go down in history as one of the best movies representin' the era and what we go through.
D: Definitely. And the soundtrack, too.
MC Eiht: Definitely.
D: Bangin'. Was the duet album with Spice 1 a one shot deal or do you plan on doing another album together?
MC Eiht: we've been talkin' about it, tryin' to get something crackin' for next summer. He's busy doin' stuff, I'm workin' on these three projects right now, but definitely it's not a one time thing. We gon' try to keep it goin', because a lot of Bay Area rappers don't get down with a lot of Southern California rappers, so we gon' tryin' to keep that connection goin', because it's all West Coast. Me and Spice been workin' since our careers began with each other. We just try to keep that love goin', too.
D: Alright, I'll be lookin' forward to that one, definitely. Who else would you like to work with, either with whom you have worked or someone you haven't worked with?
MC Eiht: I'd like to work with Busta Rhymes. I'd like to work with Redman again. I'd like to work with Scarface again. I'd like to work with Rakim. You know some real true pioneers, I'd like to work with Chuck D. I'm feelin' Beanie Sigel, as far as newcomers I'm feelin' him. I'm feelin' Trick Daddy. I'm feelin' Shyne. I'd like to work with Shyne, too, definitely. You know real gutter niggaz. Anybody gutter, I'd like to work with 'em.
D: What about B Real & Soul Assassins? I really dig what you guys did on... (Last Man Standing)
MC Eiht: Always. I mean that's love right there. Muggs and B Real always showed me love, so anything them cats want out of me I'll get down with them on any projects. Cypress Hill, Soul Assassins, anything. It's all good.
D: I was really diggin' those tracks you did with them on Last Man Standing
MC Eiht: Right, it was a different feel, that's why I liked it. I've been followin' Muggs' sound since the 783 days. For people who don't know Muggs useta be from a group called 783, back on the East Coast. They had a hit called "Coolin' In Cali". So, I've been followin' Muggs since like the late 80's. Always an avid fan.
D: Excellent. If you could work with one person, anyone, throughout the history of music, one person dead or alive, who would that one person be?
MC Eiht: Ah man. Who would I work with dead or alive? I wouldn't mind workin' with Big. Me and Biggie did a concert together in Miami. We sat up and talked for a while. He was real cool. Then when I was in Chicago filmin' this movie that never came out called Reasons. It was staring Lisa Rae and Bernie Mac and myself. Biggie came to town and did a concert. He called me up on stage and we got down together. That was a real cool brother right there. I also did songs with Pac and concerts, but Big was real cool, so I wouldn't mind workin' with Big.
MC Eiht & D (Simultaneous): Definitely.
D: Where did the "Geah" come from?
MC Eiht: I've been sayin' "Geah" since at least '87, just tryin' to be different. You know startin' a rap, hangin' in the hood tryin' to be slang orientated with my thang. So, I just started sayin' "Geah" instead of "Yeah" and it's always stuck with me. And if you look everybody and they mama today say "Geah", and it's all cool. Don't nobody recognize who started it, but you know it's all good. But that's how I started sayin' "Geah". Everybody was 'yeah, yeah' you know 'yeah man, yeah man', so I just started slurrin' it 'Geah' and just made it my own. And everybody know where it came from, so that's all good, too.
D: I useta answer the phone "Geah". Probably subliminally because of you.
MC Eiht: I do it to this day, so it's nothin'. People get fasinated with it, 'cause they be thinkin' it's just somethin' I do on T.V. or for the records. I answer my regular phone, my moms'll call or my kids or anything and I be like "Geah". It's just natural.
D: What makes you a legend?
MC Eiht: What makes me a legend? I don't know. I don't consider it. I guess what makes me a legend is I guess bein' in the game for as long as I've been in the game. Like I said I made my first record in 1988. Since 1988 I've been representin' Compton and the West Coast. Whatever the transition has been goin' on, whether I've been able to sell a record or not sell a record, it's always been about West Coast music and Compton and just my era, what I go through. And for the last 15 albums and almost 20 years, it's just been about Compton and West Coast music and tryin' to keep the name of Compton in West Coast music. Tryin' to keep the name of Compton and what we represent in these L.A. streets and these California streets. I guess that's what makes me a legend, just by representin' and doin' what I do for the people of where I come from and always being able to keep that repetition goin'. You know always keep that fan base and always able to keep the people happy and never disappointin' fans. That's what makes you a legend. Bein' able to continue and continue and continue dispite all the depressions and all the obsticles and all the tough times you gotta go through and people hatin' and not bein' able to sell a million records. That's what makes you a legend just bein' able to continue and keep goin'. Just bein' able to continue and keep goin' and just keep doin' it until the day you drop. And that's me.
D: And the way you stayed true through all the albums. Never goin' pop. Never doin' any weak crap.
MC Eiht: Like I said, I ain't tryin' to disappoint the fans just to try to cross over to have the lake behind my house. I mean I understand that everybody has big dreams, but I'd rather be loyal and stay true to the people who spend they money to hear what they wanna hear. So, there you have it.
D: Excellent. Do you have any final words?
MC Eiht: Just, you know, I appreciate all the love I've been gettin' for all the years, people who support MC Eiht/Compton's Most Wanted. Keep us goin'. Keep that West Coast music goin'. Pick up that new album, Veterans Day. Be on the look out for that new E.C.M.P. album and that Compton's Most Wanted album Neighborhood Watch. Geah!
More: MC Eiht
Please take all off-topic comments to The Official Thug Radio Message Board.