As a member of the West Coast gangster rap collective, Compton’s Most Wanted, MC Eiht stepped onto the scene with the group’s seminal It’s A Compton Thang album in 1990. Two years later, their explosive breakthrough record, Music To Driveby, solidified Eiht’s status as a pioneering MC. One of his most well-known tracks, “Streiht Up Menace,” was featured on the soundtrack for the 1993 classic movie Menace II Society, which he also starred in.

Fast-forward to 2017 and Eiht is back with his first full-length solo album in 10 years, Which Way Iz West, a 15-track project executive produced by East Coast luminary, DJ Premier, a partnership that may have some people scratching their heads.

“People been knowing I’ve been associated with Preemo for a while now, so I don’t think that’s too much of a surprise,” Eiht explains to HipHopDX. “But to see that we actually sat down and worked on a full-length project together, that really caught a few people off guard. I guess they felt the whole project was going to sound East Coast and people were probably a little skeptical of the direction of the record with Preemo being the executive producer.”

With high-profile guest spots from The Outlawz, Lady Of Rage, Kurupt, B-Real, Xzibit, Bumpy Knuckles, Big Mike, WC, MayLay, and his old crew, Compton’s Most Wanted, it retains that original West Coast flavor, but simultaneously evolves with the times due in part to Preemo’s more golden era-style beats. Four years in the making, Eiht is hoping people recognize the hard work that went into creating the record.

“We put so much time into this record, I’m just hoping people respond to what the record really is about and can hear its diversity,” he says. “I’m expecting it does differently than all other MC Eiht records. I really tried to pick out the sound and craft this record into something that would be a good project, not just another West Coast veteran trying to sustain his career.”

Eiht hasn’t been completely quiet. He appeared on fellow Compton native Kendrick Lamar’s Good Kid, m.A.A.d. City in 2012, and contributed to DJ Quik and Problem’s Rosecrans album earlier this month (which officially ended his vicious, long-running feud with Quik). On every cut, he manages to stay true to himself, something he factored into the naming of Which Way Iz West. 

“For a minute, it seemed like all our West Coast veterans were trying to do what everybody else was doing to stay relevant,” he says. “I understand you gotta adapt to the times, but I felt people weren’t giving a damn about the originality of West Coast music. I know you can’t stay on the same page forever, but you can’t stray away from what our foundation is. I wanted to call the record ‘Which Way Iz West’ to let people know that maybe we lost our way and we need to get back to what West Coast music really was, and make some music that got me in the door for some of those fans who have been riding with me since the beginning.”

The first single, “Represent Like This,” finds WC of WC and the Maad Circle as well as Preemo throwing down over a Brenk Sinatra-produced banger, a little sliver of what to expect when the full album drops on June 9.

“I think when people hear this record it will be a breath of fresh air,” he says. “It’s not all about the hood. I think when people hear it, they will be like, ‘Wow, that wasn’t what I expected.’ Don’t judge the book by its cover just because you see Eiht and DJ Premier on it. Put the record on and listen to it.” 

Check out “Represent Like This” above, and the single art and tracklist below.

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  1. Shut ‘Em Down f. The Outlawz
  2.  Represent Like This f. WC & DJ Premier
  3.  Compton Zoo
  4.  Heart Cold f. Lady Of Rage
  5.  Pass Me By f. B-Real
  6.  Runn The Blocc f. MayLAy
  7.  Gangsta Gangsta f. Kurupt
  8.  Got That
  9.  Medicate f. Xzibit
10.  Born To Hustle f. Big Mike
11.  Sittin’ Around Smokin’
12.  As I Proceed
13.  Last Ones Left f. Compton’s Most Wanted & DJ Premier
14. “4 Tha OG’z” f. Bumpy Knuckles
15.  “You Nia’z”