Respecting your elders is a natural way to react to those that have paved the way for you. In the music business, especially in hip-hop, there are many elders that garner this kind of respect without second-guessing. Hip-hop/rap music, in general, is like one big ongoing family tree that younger generations should look back at (every once and a while) to learn about the sounds and the individuals that laid the foundations.
West Coast vet, MC Eiht is back with his latest solo project, Which Way Iz West, and is reminding listeners, both about lyrics and production. With DJ Premier on board as the executive producer, MC Eiht positions himself to bring back that authentic west coast sound that has become somewhat elusive in recent years.
It makes sense from an aficionado point of view that these two legendary acts, MC Eiht and DJ Premier, driven by their work ethic, would wind up working together. “I’ve been knowing Preemo for a minute, it was just a no-brainer that I felt he should come on as the executive producer. Not only is Preemo one of the most prolific producers he’s still out there as far as a DJ’ing and what he creates and he still has his hands in all kinds of music. So, he knows the direction of how an album should go and the music and the songs we should pick. I’m very high on criticism so him being one of my good friends he’s able to tell me ‘nah, I’m not feeling that’ or ‘I’m feeling that.’ You always need that! I’m a humble cat and I accept criticism, so it was only right for him to be the executive producer. He’s been in it as long I have and he’s touched some of everything!
With the amount of hustle Eiht and Preem have one must wonder how many tracks did not make the final cut. “There were a gang of joints that didn’t make the album! I sent Preem probably over fifty songs. So, I left it to him to narrow it down to what he felt was right. I had my input you know, but he had the songs. He sat down and he sent me a list and was like, ‘ok, we’re going to run with these fifteen songs’. I respected that because like I said him being that producer, that DJ, that worldwide DJ Premier, if that’s the fifteen songs you think we should run with, then that’s what we running with!”
After an almost ten-year hiatus from dropping a solo project, while prepping for this new album, Eiht has remained busy working on projects with Kendrick Lamar, DJ Quik, Problemz, Blaq Poet and others. His way to keep the lyrical stamina going? “Just staying relevant, you know? You gotta stay in shape with it. Just to keep in tune, keep in step. I released a little something here and there but nothing as serious as Which Way Iz West. It’s taken us about three-four years to put this project together. We just wanted to make sure it was a good project.”
Another piece of the artillery is producer Brenk Sinatra, “I been working with Brenk for the last ten years. We’ve been working together, we work on beats. He’s from overseas, from Austria. I met him while I was doing shows overseas. He just has that sound and we just had that chemistry. I don’t know what it is, but everything we were doing was working. He is a cat like me, I’m still hungry, he’s hungry so it just meshed right!”
The album title affirms to listeners that Eiht is bringing back the authentic west coast sound that has been missing from hip-hop, something that Eiht is passionate about bringing back to normalcy. “My purpose of the title was, in my opinion, I felt the core of the west coast fans weren’t getting that sound of yesterday of NWA, the Doggy Style’s, The Chronic’s. Not to take away from none of my homies because we all put in hard work for this game. I’ve always been that underground, street cat who tells stories of how the west was and the things we do. So, I just felt, for myself, I wasn’t getting that music that I was used to. I wanted to direct myself at going which way that west coast sound is. Am I going to try do what down south is doing, am I going to do what they doing in New York, am I going to try to do what they doing here up north or am I going to take it back west. That was the direction for the title just to catch everybody by eye and ear to say which way is that west coast sound.