Tag Archives: MC Ren

HOT 5: 5 Rap Acts That SHOULD Be In The Rock n Roll Hall of Fame

5 Rap Acts Who Belong in the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame
GrownHeadz, ever ahead of the curve, created this very special Hot 5 months before Run-DMC’s induction into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame. Still, out of respect we decided to keep them on the list, as well as fellow honorees Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five. The rest of the rappers and groups named here haven’t gotten the invite yet, but they damn sure deserve one.

Run-DMC (inducted 2009)
rundmc1No question, for these guys, the honor was long overdue. Run-DMC has true rock credentials. Three of their biggest hits were rock records: Rock Box, King of Rock, and Walk this Way. In fact, their second album King of Rock featured rock songs almost exclusively. Besides, Run-DMC, more than any other group, was responsible for hip-hop’s dominance of music in the 21st century.  But we already discussed this before.

Grandmaster Flash & Furious Five (inducted 2007)
gmf-ff1Initially, I was one of many who questioned Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five’s induction into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame. Don’t get me wrong, they were innovative, considered at one time the best in the field, and they made history when The Message went platinum in 1982. All that’s good enough for the Hip Hop Hall of Fame; I just didn’t think it was far-reaching enough for the Rock Hall. But the Hall of Fame has been good at picking artists who are the foundations upon which the city is built. Some early inductees into the Rock Hall like Louie Jordan, Smokey Robinson, and James Brown are not considered “rock” acts, but provided a basis for many rock acts who followed. In that case, of all the early innovators of hip-hop, GMF & FF definitely fit the bill. Plus, when they released The Message it put EVERYBODY (including other rappers) on notice that hip-hop was more than just party music.

The Beastie Boys
beastie11Beastie Boys do not get a free pass into the Rock Hall of Fame because they are white. They get in because they truly blazed a trail in hip-hop. They have gone from frat boy anthems (Fight For Your to Party) to headlining concerts that highlight China’s human rights abuses in Tibet. Along with rock-oriented rap hits, Beasties went all the way back to their punk rock roots and busted out live instrumentation on a few of their albums, like Check Your Head and Ill Communication. And, lest we forget, Sabotage is basically them singing (bless their hearts).

Public Enemy
pe1Why PE? The better question is Why Not? Their first, second and third albums pioneered the “Wall of Sound” technique, and featured straight-up rock songs like Sophisticated Bitch and Channel Zero. With all the screeches, sirens and dozens of samples per song, a PE album demanded to be played at 11. Add in Chuck’s BOOMING flow and you have rap that is most transferable to rock. Bring The Noise lost not an ounce of credibility or funk as a rock remake. Furthermore, PE travels with a full band to supplement their sound on the road. One journalist jokingly wrote that Public Enemy was trying to be the Rolling Stones of hip-hop. Well, with both Chuck and Flav pushing 50, still putting out records and selling out shows, they just might do it.

nwa1Sex, Dugs and Rock n Roll. In terms of pure rock attitude, NWA was as hard as it got. When your favorite band scares your parents shitless, is under FBI surveillance and continues performing despite obscenity fines, you know they just don’t give a fuck—and you love them for it. Second only to PE in rebelling against authority, they were the Rolling Stones (bad boys sexing everything in sight) to PE’s Beatles (clean-cut good guys). And if you look at the line up, it’s pretty extraordinary. They had Dr. Dre long before he was hailed as one of the best producers of all time, Ice Cube, one of the top lyricists ever (though MC Ren was no slouch), and Eazy E, one of the first artist/label owners in hip-hop, whose label signed some classic artists (DOC, Bone Thugs n Harmony). If NWA were inducted, it would acknowledge one of music’s greatest beatmakers, rappers, and entrepreneurs all in one swoop.

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Where Is NWA Now?

From AskMen.com

Once labeled the world’s most dangerous band, NWA (or Niggaz with Attitude) were the seminal gangsta rap act in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Although banned from mainstream radio, they still managed to sell over 9 million records from 1986 to 1991. Their first record set the tone, but it was 1988’s Straight Outta Compton’s portrayal of the violence of gang life in Los Angeles that broke them wide open.

The controversy around the track, “F*ck tha Police,” even generated a direct, personal response from an assistant FBI director to the band’s label, Ruthless Records, and resulted in local police refusing to provide security for NWA shows. Not content with taking on the cops, the establishment and anyone else who got in their way, Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, MC Ren, and DJ Yella didn’t hesitate to take on each other with equal brutality when NWA started to fall apart.

Read on to see how the carnage and the aftermath impacted the careers of each NWA member.
Eazy-E (1986-1991)
aka Eric Lynn Wright

Born in Compton, California, Eazy-E allegedly used the money he earned dealing to kick-start Ruthless Records. Originally, he intended to be the man behind the bands, but when he found himself behind the mic rapping Ice Cube’s “Boyz-n-the-Hood,” NWA was born. Soon enough, he also found himself at odds with the band for “borrowing” money from them without actually telling them.

When the band started to fall apart the feud grew ever more bitter, Eazy, Ice Cube and Dre traded insults, threats and innuendo on record, taking increasingly brutal pot shots at each other.

What he did after NWA: Though his first solo record, 1988’s Eazy-Duz-It, went two-times platinum, Eazy’s solo career was short-lived. He died of AIDS in March 1995, but his legacy is lasting: Two of his posthumous solo records released in 1995 did very well, and Eazy has been honored in numerous songs and performances by fellow artists, as well as in a documentary by his son. Compton, California, also commemorates the rapper on Eazy-E Day, which is celebrated annually on April 7th.

Bet you didn’t know:
Eazy-E is the inspiration for the character of Lance Ryder Wilson, from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

MC Ren (1986-1991)
aka Lorenzo Jerald Patterson

Born in Compton, California, MC Ren was alternately known as The Ruthless Villain and The Villain in Black. Contributing vocals to Straight Outta Compton, Ren joined NWA right out of high school. When Ice Cube left, Ren found himself playing a bigger role within the group, and hung on until the bitter end when NWA disbanded in 1991.

What he did after NWA: Ren stuck with Eazy after the split and released his first solo record in 1992, Kizz My Black Azz. With little in the way of promotion or radio, the debut went platinum — a true testament to Ren’s underrated skills on the mic. He made a stab at film production with the straight-to-DVD Lost in the Game (2004), and worked on a second record, Shock of the Hour (1993). Two more records followed, but none were as successful as the first. Still Ren is highly respected by other rappers and has appeared on a variety of records by other artists, like Ice Cube, The D.O.C, Snoop Dogg, Cypress Hill, and others.

What he’s doing now: MC Ren is said to have retired, but he appeared on Public Enemy’s Rebirth of a Nation in 2006, and is rumored to be recording with a new group called Concrete Criminals.

Bet you didn’t know: Ren wears a half-moon ring on his right hand to symbolize the changes he’s made in his life.


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HOT 5 – Shooting Blanks: Stars of Groups That Didn’t Make It

Rappers who should have had solo careers after their group called it quits:

In any group, there are always members whose rhymes you wait for, artists that show such promise, you figure if the group ever breaks up they should be more than alright.  But somehow it just doesn’t happen that way. Here are a few such MCs. Why???
Charlie Brown (Leaders of the New School)
When LONS dropped Future Without a Past back in 1990, Busta was the star that shone brightest from the start.  But running a good second and way ahead of Dinco D was Charlie Brown. He had a distinctive flow and interesting lyrics. So when the Leaders broke up after T.I.M.E., we all knew Busta was going to be all right (and he is).  But we figured surely Charlie Brown would also make an impact as a solo artist. NOT. We don’t know what happened; maybe he lost the love, or just never got around to sinking his teeth in another lyrical project. Or maybe, just maybe, it was just another case of that old PTA.

Chip-Fu (Fu Schnickens)
Every morning for about a month in 1991 I woke up to The Fu-Schnickens’ “Ring the Alarm.” They just got hotter with “La Schmoove,” graced by Phife, and as Shaquille O’Neal’s training wheels on “True Fu-Schnick.” But despite Shaq Fu’s star power, every fan was hanging around for that dark-skinned dude with the locks, AKA Chip-Fu, to spit it. The rapid-fire flow was gimmicky, but hype as hell, especially when you actually managed to keep up for a line or two. When the group faded, we fully expected to hear something from the Chipster, but nothing was forthcoming.  Chip-Fu, Chip-Fu, wherefore art thou?

MC Serch (3rd Bass)
3rd bass holds the distinction of being the 2nd most respected white group in hip hop history—and possibly the second period, with the 1989 debut of The Cactus Album.  While Pete Nice was a talented dude, all the memorable quotables seemed to emanate from the other side of the mic. MC Serch had militant lyrics and a knack for a good punch line (“Black cat is bad luck, bad guys wear black/Musta been a white guy who started all that” — Gas Face), but just as importantly, he rocked a true high top fade and he was one dancing white boy. When the group broke up, Serch dropped a highly anticipated solo album that just sort of. . . dropped. It was aiiight, it just didn’t seem to bang like the old 3rd Bass tracks. The biggest single, “Back to the Grill Again,” didn’t set the street on fire, but it did put out the buzz on a little-known rapper by the name of Nasty Nas. Serch has since gone on to have a career in radio, most recently in Detroit.

LadyBug Mecca (Digable Planets)
Digable’s “Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)” was just a little too slick when they first came out. The fusion of jazz and spoken-word type cuts on the debut album Reachin (A New Refutation of Time and Space) was too too for most heads: too crossover, too peace, too subtitled. But the record went gold, and next year the group won the King of Left Field award for 1994’s radical Blowout Comb. Revolution, funk, and Ms. Mecca’s buttery monotone psycho-flow pushed the album to underground classic status. There were so many emerging female MCs at that time that Ladybug’s debut seemed a foregone conclusion; instead we got more than a decade of silence. A teasing credit on February’s EMC (Masta Ace, Punchline, Wordsworth, Stricklin) release “The Show” reveals her singing hooks, and rumors of a children’s cd with Prince Paul (not joking) is all we have to go on for now, but she’s reputedly in studio wrapping a little something due later this year.

MC Ren (NWA)
Mc Ren might be the “What the hell happened?” poster child. Straight Outta Compton blew NWA up, and when Ice Cube left, Ren became the group’s #1 rapper by default. Ren was the lyrical anchor on 100 Miles and Runnin’ and Niggaz4Life, so when everything finally fell apart he seemed slated for some big moves. Final Frontier had a little buzz, and then, and then, and then … That’s right, no hits, no big push, nuthin.’ Not sure whether to chalk it up to label politics or personal demons, but it just seemed like Ren should’ve done more damage.

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