“We Come Strapped”, the story of a ruthless gangster
Orpheus / Epic, 1994
The Compton Gangster’s Solo Debut
As a member and leader of Compton’s Most Wanted, MC Eiht established a reputation as a ruthless gangsta rapper with a sharp street sense. After the undisputed classic Music To Driveby and his starring role in the movie Menace II Society, MC Eiht was in the spotlight as the leader of a group that became iconic, so it was only natural that he went solo.
However, he does not really deviate from his original group since the production will be entirely provided by his colleague of CMW, DJ Slip, in co-production with the rapper. We also find DJ Mike T for the scratches but only on one track here. If he takes back his production team, the rappers are absent from We Come Strapped, it is rather logical for Tha Chill who was incarcerated at the time, but Boom Bam could have eventually been present. MC Eiht keeps the spotlight for him, and he has plenty of charisma and talent to pull off a solo.
A gloomy G-Funk without sun…
In the end, the album will not be so different from the previous releases of the band. Compton’s Most Wanted is indeed a G-Funk group, but with its own style. If some markers of G-Funk are taken, we don’t have sunshine here, only a glimpse of the gloomy streets of Compton. We Come Strapped is something darker, more ominous, more threatening than classic G-Funk. Rumbling bass, ominous keyboards, swirling violins, mysterious flutes and moody strings with a rich orchestral feel. Eiht and Slip have a remarkable chemistry, not enough mentioned, not to mention Willie Z’s memorable keyboards throughout the album and Josh Achziger’s guitar, unfortunately only on one track.
Def Wish III, third in the series as the name suggests, is a targeted diss to his Bloods nemesis DJ Quik. A death threat as piercing as a sniper’s bullet. If Def Wish II had already impressed us on Music To Driveby with its disturbing clip, Def Wish III is just as deadly. The bass riff is simply exceptional with some long notes as strident as melodious for a dramatic and gloomy atmosphere, which we find on the majority of the album. The hostilities are opened.
For the more moody and ominous tracks, the trio Niggaz Make the Hood Go Round, We Come Strapped and Take 2 With Me work on a nasty bass in the foreground embellished with other instruments like reasoning bugles, salient flutes, keyboards and violins for immediate effect. While Take 2 With Me is slightly more melodic than the other two tracks, it too brings its share of terror. On this aggressive and threatening scheme, MC Eiht is clearly in his element for the best tracks of the album.
… with a touch of dramatic melancholy
But the producers duo also know how to bring melody and melancholy. All for the Money contrasts by its sweetness composed with strings taken from In The Mood of Tyronne Davis completed by some piano notes and female backing vocals. A beautiful melody almost Soul. Compton Bomb takes us in a beautiful melancholy contrasted by a hazy electric guitar and some notes of keyboards.
Several other tracks will follow this melancholic but no less disturbing theme, Hard Times and its few notes of keyboards where Eiht performs with a jerky flow. Can I Still Kill It offers a memorable melody supported by a beautiful keyboard chorus by Wille Z. Goin Out Like Geez has a dramatic, cinematic effect concocted with voluptuous strings and bells, perfect for Eiht’s murderous storytelling featuring his friends in Compton Most Wanted.
While Compton Cyco’s production is relatively mellow, it also brings its share of drama to a story full of misogyny but appropriately creepy. Nuthin’ But the Gangsta features MC Eith alongside Spice 1 and Redman for a gangster ego-trip.
A sharp pen for thrilling gangsta storytelling
On these beats, MC Eiht is basically rooted in Compton, which is basically almost a neighborhood story. Between gripping gangster tales, gritty stories, or murderous envy towards his Bloods rival DJ Quik, Eiht creates his own character, if it is really a character, of a scowling, ruthless, almost caricatured gangster.
With his first-person narratives, he depicts the streets of Compton with great skill and intriguing storytelling. Surprisingly, he also has an introspective side with reflections on himself, a form of self-questioning rare in Gangsta Rap, considered as an admission of weakness, which brings a moving and reflective side. His stories remain very hard and brutal, but it is the fine pen and the captivating storytelling of the rapper that make the difference here.