MC Eiht & Nik Bean Talk "All Starz & Strapz 2", New West Debate

Exclusive: Compton's Most Wanted's front-man and Nik Bean speak with DX about the unified front of west coast O.G.'s restoring the region's Rap legacy.

Last week, MC Eiht released what's believed to be the second official mixtape of his career, courtesy of DJ Nik Bean's All Starz & Strapz Volume 2 . The duo's second installment finds the Compton Rap pioneer flexing his concrete raps over classic '90s production, as a lead-in to his 2010 album, Which Way Is West, paring Eiht with early collaborator DJ Premier as well as Easy Mo Bee and others.

Over three years removed from releasing an album, Eiht explains his reasoning for the hiatus. As a debate cooks up between Ice Cube and younger California emcees, Eiht, the rapper who once released an album titled Veterans Day, explains why the pioneers aren't so quick to pass torches or microphones.

HipHopDX: Eiht, for a lot of years, you were putting out an album every year. I know this is volume two of All Starz & Strapz, but can you speak about the strategy shift of these mixtapes now gearing towards your next album, Which Was Is West?
MC Eiht: Basically, that's the thing nowadays. Shit, everybody's doin' mixtapes. Basically, me being on a hiatus from music for a couple of years, I've been trying to adapt and see what's been going on with music. I've been kickin' back and listening to what's been going on with the gimmicky shit. When you've got older cats still around, like myself, we're still fiendin' for some of that authentic music shit. I just figured it was about time to ease my way back in to get some of this music out.

My thing with [All Starz & Strapz Volume 2] is basically to get people prepared for the album with some of that old school, traditional music. I used a lot of old school tracks, to try and take people down memory lane, and getting 'em used to Eiht, with the younger generation. It's just something for people to sink their teeth into to get familiarized, and back to recognize what real west coast music is like.

DX: Nik, you're of one the top deejays on the west. I always believe that true deejays tell stories with their hands. First of all, in the work you guys have done together this year and last year, what does it mean for you to work with an icon like MC Eiht?
Nik Bean: Oh, it's always a pleasure. It's satisfying to get some work in with people you grew up listening to. I've pretty much worked with everybody I've [ever] wanted to work with. So to work with Eiht, or [Tha Dogg Pound], those guys too, it's so satisfying. Whatever Eiht needs, or any of the O.G.'s, whatever the west coast needs, I got it. It's nothin'. It's done.

DX: Looking at Eiht's unique street perspectives and authenticity, from your younger perspective, what can Hip Hop learn from this man's music?
Nik Bean: I think Hip Hop can learn a lot from Eiht. People always say that Hip Hop fans are always disloyal. You've gotta look at Eiht and others that have a career that spans out so long, and still [maintains] relevance in the game. People still check for him, and check to see what he's gonna do next and want to hear some new shit from him. I had a gang of people hit me up, like, "When's the new shit comin' out?" I already know that people are fiendin' for the shit. He's been in the game [24 years]. How many people can say that? Not many.

DX: Twenty-four years Eiht, if I'm not mistaken. What's exciting about your rhyme-writing at this moment?
MC Eiht: Right now, my rhyme-writing is...I've been tryin' to step it up a little bit, as far as tryin' to be...I'm still with the storytellin', but I'm tryin' not be so much about shoot 'em up, bang-bang. That's still goin' on the neighborhoods, we can't stray away from that. But more so, nowadays, my raps are really geared towards tryin' to uplift the West. Like you said, I speak for Compton, but when I write rhymes, I try to depict myself as if I'm stuck in the hood in New York or Philadelphia or Chicago - not just Compton. I ain't tryin' to depress muthafuckas with, "Life is hard," and "My homie got killed," I'm just makin' songs about niggas who like to sit in the backyard and blow a blunt. We like to go to the clubs, but we ain't all with the fashion. We ain't tryin' to pull up in Rolls Royces. We just regular people that's tryin' to make it through the struggle and we want music that we can relate to. At my age, I'm not tryin' to Jerk. I'm not tryin' to wear skinny-jeans. I can't do all that. I can't compete with the 15 year-olds, so my thing is to try music like back in my parents' era, when Teddy [Pendergrass] was makin' his records, or Marvin [Gaye]. I try to adapt to the people that come from my [generation], and anybody else that wants to come along and familiarize.

DX: Eiht, my favorite solo album of yours is Veterans Day. I love that theme, and that was the first time you and I ever crossed paths. Just five months into 2010, your boy Brotha Lynch Hung is back on the charts, the Wu-Tang Clan is doin' it again, Ice Cube is in the news, Too Short, Dr. Dre...is it a veteran's day?
MC Eiht: My thing is like this: older cats stood back and tried to give these new niggas they shine, wherever they comin' from. I ain't never dissed [the youth]. Niggas got to talkin' all this "new west" shit. That's what started fuckin' up the game. A lot of these new cats was "mixtape, mixtape, mixtape, mixtape, mixtape!" Then they diss on the veterans, 'cause they feel like we don't want to step aside and give them their shine and their chance. The whole thing about it is, for the last five years, I kicked back and just watched. I ain't even attempt to try and release a record, 'cause everything was stanky-leg this, lean-back, jump-back, "my belt buckle got 50,000 diamonds in it," it wasn't no room for us. That's not to say that we couldn't compete, but we were lettin' a lot of the youngsters dictate the music biz [through] YouTubes, Twitters and all that. Basically, nobody wanted to deal with the veterans. It was a new era. We didn't diss nobody - the [Ice] Cubes, the [MC] Rens, the Eihts, the whoever's. Go and get y'all shine on, y'all! We start feelin' disrespected though, 'cause a lot of these cats didn't wanna pay homage.

I just got tired of dealing with "new west, new west, new west, new west!" Nobody representin' the so-called "new west" was doin' anything. Everybody braggin' on they albums droppin', havin' 30 million dollars... five years later, these niggas ain't done shit! They hate on us, 'cause when you talk about west coast, people familiarize themselves with a Cube or an Eiht. Now if these cats came along and put some foundation down, it would be no problem to recognize a nigga doin' his thing. I'm not sayin' niggas have a problem passin' the torch, but you've gotta be willing and you've gotta be earning of that torch. Nobody was worthy of it, so fuck it.

I just felt it was time to get back, 'cause people were starting to go, "Where is the west coast?" So I figured, let me jump back in the game and spit a couple of raps and just get it out there, to see how people would accept it - if we came back, if Eiht or [Compton's Most Wanted] came back. And all I've been hearing is, "Please." Nobody captures the west coast like the originators. That was my thing.

DX: Nik, you tie to this too. A lot of deejays don't stand up for the veterans either. One of my favorite things about DJ Drama is how he rides for veteran rappers when it's time, or J. Period. You do it too. Can you speak on the importance of deejays making that happen as well?
Nik Bean: I take pride in that. Some people have a price. I look at it like it's not even about the money for me. It's a balance [of old and new]. I do work with people that I respect - I respect their grind and their music. Definitely O.G.'s on the west coast [influence me], but I do look for new talent. If you do history on what I've done, I've helped break artists on the west coast. In '07, I put out that mixtape when Hot Dolla got signed, before actually. He ended up getting a deal with Jermaine Dupri as the first artist signed to Island/Def Jam [of Dupri's tenure]. Then the [Glasses] Malone tape I put out in '08 [was] right when he signed to Cash Money [Records]. I definitely take pride in being a taste-maker, like you just mentioned with [Mr.] Silky Slim [too]. That's the dude that I feel is the next pimp game rapper comin' from the west. If you notice, you don't see hella shit with my name on it and a lot of unknown artists. I don't want my name associated with just everybody. That's the way I work.

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18 Comments

  • BIGSAVAGE88

    cool interview Eiht still in it to win it geeah

  • Mr Mako Capone -E

    New west ? that really sucks! These dudes use beat from old school New York shit and call that new west... Fuck that new west and haters to the real westcoast! Peace to all the OG's especially the nigga Eiht ! Geaaaaaaah!!

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  • BeanTown Breezy

    I grew up with real west coast hip(1988-1998) and none of these little new west fags doing anything creative but just looking like a bunch of carbon copy no identity having skinny jean fuck boys who look like little feminine bitches.Their lyrics suck,their played out 808 beats are just a cover up to garbage,and they need to step aside and realize what it was to be from that region in the 90's....nothing but fire came out of cali in the late 80's and through the 90's...maybe these lil cats need to work with the vets and produce something authentic and quality laced...peace

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  • COMPTONRIDA1

    EIHT is a Bitch and will always be one... He better worry about Mako Capone..While he focusing on New West artist... You crack smoking washed up wanna be from Compton ass nigga.. Eiht aint been to Compton in 10 years..So wear is he buyin his Compton Hats at now.. Brooklyn? lmao Nigga we real Compton Right Here Factor House Records

    • emurda

      FUCC U YA WEAK ASS NUT SWINGIN ASS NIA U SOFT AS COOKIE DOUGH NIA U SEEM LIKE ANUTHER JEALOUS ASS NIA STUCC IN YO OWN CHIT NIA AND NIA EIHT HIT CPT WHEN HE WANT TO

  • HOEYUNO

    Its cool to see MC Eiht back. dudes one of the originals on the west.

  • South East Ed

    Why is it that rap music is the only genre that feels like, once you hit 30, you're old and need to step aside? Thats some BS! Everybody that made music done looked up to someone. You just ain't say, "hey, I wanna rap" just for the hell of it. Ask these "New West" rappers who influenced them. It's room in the game for old AND new rappers......from EVERYWHERE, not just the west. I'm looking foward to the day when Snoop Dogg is 55, performing at the Super Bowl like The Rolling Stones or something, The Dogg Pound doing a Dick Clark New Years Eve show, or Cube at the Essence Festival! Like Eiht said, who's worthy of passing the torch too? Shout out to Eiht, Cube, Dre, Ren, King T, Quik, DPG, ATL, Kokane, CPO, $hort, Yukmouth........I could go on and on. Must love to the West Side (and this is coming from an East coast dude that grew up on West Coast rap!)

  • J0SHPWILL

    lol, this a long ass interview and for no apparent reason.. lol CHECK ME OUT. I PROMISE GREAT MUSIC. IT'S A PROMISE! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BdylMPXtisY

  • J0SHPWILL

    lol, this a long ass interview and for no apparent reason.. lol CHECK ME OUT. I PROMISE GREAT MUSIC. IT'S A PROMISE! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BdylMPXtisY

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  • HEY BITCHBOY

    15 REASONS WHY HIP-HOP IS DYING MORE AND MORE AND MORE! 1. LITTLE BITCH DRAKE, B.O.B., LIL WAYNE, RICK ROSS, WACKA FLOCKA, MORE GARBAGE RAPPERS AKA ETC. 2. FUCKIN HOMOED OUT HIGH TOP KICKS, NEON CLOTHES, MOHAWKS AND SKINNY JEANS. 3. DEATH OF BIG L, DILLA AND GURU. 4. GZA DROPPING ALBUMS ONCE EVERY 3 YEARS. 5. ALBUMS FROM CHANNEL LIVE, DITC, DAS EFX, WU TANG CLAN, BLAHZAY BLAHZAY, ETC. BARELY DROP AND IF THEY DO, THEY ARE USUALLY BULLSHIT QUALITY! 6. AUTO-TUNE HORSE SHIT. 7.GANGSTER BLOGGERS AND CHATROOM GOONS. 8. NOT ENOUGH STRONG RAPPERS, MAYBE ABOUT 30-40 RAPPERS TOPS. 9. THE CHANGING TIMES OF LIFE/MUSIC GENERALLY. 10. QUALITY OF MUSIC EVEN BY GOOD ARTISTS BACK THEN IS SOMETIMES ON THE DECLINE/INCONSISTENT. 11. FAGS LIKE YOU WHO ARE GOING TO COMMENT ON THIS! 12. 7 WORDS AGAIN: WACKA FLOCKA FLAME, DRAKE AND LIL WAYNE. 13. EYEBROW PIERCINGS AND SMALL NOSE STUDS ON BLACK DUDES 14. THE REALISM AND RAWNESS IS NOT THERE ANYMORE, IT IS ALL ABOUT THE HIPSTER GARBAGE TRENDS. 15. LITTLE BROTHER IS NOW CALLING IT QUITS! DAMN!

  • hater's hater

    the New West sucks. they arent going to do shit, and that's the truth. oh well. we'll always have the classic old shit to listen to, which will never go out of style.

  • uzipolo-king of decatur

    the old school west has nothing toprove to the new kids now because they cant rap better nor make better songs so the old west will take the new west out i also think the old west took out the old schoolrap artist in east as well when you compare the old west rap records with the east coast you can very well see a clear difference in song writting which the west clearly demostrated to be top notch with songs like you beter bring a gun six in the morning boyz in the hood thats just to name a few but at the same time it aint how many rhymes you have its how many DOPE RHYMES you have and those songs right there are classics and great story telling and intelligent as well which i also think this is why the west coast got hated on because they were more better structuring material and the east coast saw this as a threat which was b ullshit thats why when snoop dogg came to the source awards and dissed ny and ny aint do a damn thing about it that let me know right then and there where ny stood speaking of the old west its also shocking that other honorable old west coast pioneers dont get the credit or the shout outs they deserve that paved the way im talking about 2 live(before 2 live crews went to mami) dj pooh dj unknown mix master spade arabian prince and yes king tee says uzipolo king of decatur

  • Knuckz

    GeeeeaaaahhhhhH!!! New west is not fucking wit the OGs. I listen to Dre, Cube, Eiht, Spice 1, Too $hort, King Tee & Tha Liks, Snoop, Quik and E-40. These are the dudes that put in down for the West. Yeah new faces are welcomed, but you cannot step on the OGs to get your shine. No matter how G. Malone plays it off, he started the turbulence with Crooked & Bishop when they were going to do No Country For Old Men. See Canibus tried to come up of LL and remember Luniz dissed Too $hort on their debut album. Where are Canibus and The Luniz now?

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