MC Eiht - Lessons Music Album Reviews

MC Eiht - Lessons Music Album Reviews
The underrated titan of West Coast gangsta rap stays true to his classic formula on an LP featuring guest verses from spiritual descendants Conway the Machine and Dave East.

Two weeks after the 1992 L.A. uprising concluded with 63 dead and 12,000 arrested, Compton’s Most Wanted returned to the studio to cut their third full-length fronted by then-20-year-old Aaron “MC Eiht” Tyler. That the resultant album, the visceral Music to Driveby, didn’t incite the same moral panic as Death Certificate, O.G. Original Gangster, or The Chronic wasn’t a reflection of its quality relative to those records so much as its zoomed-in worldview. Eiht’s bloody tales of blacktop warfare weren’t, at first glance, political in the mode of his neighbors wit’ attitudes. Instead, they charted the insular dynamics of his hometown with nihilistic affect. A mostly unrepentant antagonist prone to flashes of lucid reflection, Eiht approached the carceral state, militarized police, and Southern California redlining with sorrow rather than revolutionary rage. On Driveby’s vibrant follow-ups We Come Strapped and Death Threatz, he leaned into the chaos, flaunting territorial pettiness like a pro-wrestling heel. If he was, as he often claimed, a menace to society, it’s because society was, well, a menace.
It’s testament both to Eiht’s consistency and the sputtering American experiment that his music still resonates three decades on. By the mid-’90s, C.M.W.’s best work had been adapted by lesser descendants like Watts Gangstas and South Central Cartel, but Eiht’s ability to convey his environs in a succinct, visual manner kept him afloat in a crowded market. Lessons is a worthy late addition to the MC Eiht Cinematic Universe, its scenery familiar in a way that doesn’t invoke cheap nostalgia; there’s nothing to be reclaimed or recaptured because, for better or worse, Eiht’s music never strayed beyond these settings in the first place. When he deadpans, “Rollin’ up trees on a magazine/Another n***a died, sippin’ lean” on the smooth highlight “Things We Go Through,” you can hear the disquiet in his grizzled voice. Eiht always made shootouts and drug deals sound like nine-to-five drudgery, and on Lessons they’re relayed with a survivor’s wariness.

The solid guest roster on Lessons adds color to a template of hard snares and sturdy hooks. On the sinister “Get Money Man,” B-Real makes for a perfect vocal foil, his jittery opening verse paving way for Eiht’s dour world-building. Mitchy Slick’s excellent appearance on “Stand Up” is buried a bit within the album’s 20 tracks, but the effect is similar—his eager flow veers around the drum pattern before Eiht steers back to center. Dave East and Conway the Machine appear as emissaries from the new school, but in practice they’re the same breed of glowering quick wit as Eiht. If rappers had coaching trees, Eiht would be Rick Pitino.

The beats, supplied by Ferhan C, Hermanata, D-Ace, and C.M.W. comrade Tha Chill, are clean in a clinical, post-2001 way, sun and palm trees with whiffs of gunsmoke and diesel exhaust. They settle into their grooves and stay there. To say that these tracks would’ve sounded at home in 2005 or 2015 isn’t really a critique, but it does underscore how deliciously weird Eiht’s classic compositions were—while his peers mined the P-Funk catalog for any samples Dr. Dre might have neglected, Eiht enlisted SOLAR Records session player Willie Zimmerman to help build orchestral arrangements and long, rolling “Endoludes” comprised entirely of ad-libs. Lessons offers some adequate chipmunk soul on “That’s Perfect,” a bright horn fanfare on “Ambition.” It’s all professionally competent, if not particularly distinctive.

Eiht’s timeless narratives on “Hood Took Me Under” and “All for the Money” were kinetic and claustrophobic, sweeping cause-and-effect arcs which encompassed decades in the course of individual verses; when he wasn’t scaling fences and fleeing S.W.A.T. teams, he was training his own infrared beams on whichever saps were unlucky enough to be wearing the wrong color. Lessons is comparably static and, it must be said, recounted largely in the past tense. (“I know the theme of this song is familiar,” Young Noble admits on “Magic.” Well, yes.) It’s an unlikely trajectory for the Compton Cyco, but Eiht plays the elder statesman admirably. “Whut U Really On” and the title track do nice jobs dispensing hard-earned wisdom without resorting to soapbox proselytizing.

There’s a real chance Eiht wouldn’t have lived to see 30 if he’d kept making records like Death Threatz. But having listened to his last few projects, I still don’t know much about what middle age looks like for MC Eiht, and frankly I’d like to—he’s a clever writer and a perceptive, charismatic narrator who’s lived a remarkable life. His famous cameos on “m.A.A.d city” and “One Life to Live” were such show-stoppers because they served as reminders of what singular presence he has. If he could manage to land a few weeks with a Rick Rubin or a Madlib, I’d love to see what happens when Eiht’s genius gets loose and deconstructed.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
MC Eiht - Lessons Music Album Reviews MC Eiht - Lessons Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Tuesday, September 22, 2020 Rating: 5


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