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When We Wuz Bangin

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Album Review

The 1989-1999 time span cited in the subtitle of When We Wuz Bangin' is a little misleading. Compton's Most Wanted did in fact span a decade, forming in 1989 and debuting a year later, but the group spend most of the ensuing decade inactive, releasing only three albums during a three-year span (1990-1992). Throughout most of the '90s, group leader MC Eiht trudged on with his up-and-down solo career and took producer DJ Slip along for part of the ride. The remaining members of CMW meanwhile remained mostly confined to old-school obscurity. As short-lived as the talented group had been, though, they did release a wealth of blueprint West Coast gangsta rap during their three-album span, each album — It's a Compton Thang (1990), Music to Driveby (1991), and Straight Checkn 'Em (1992) — offering a few standout singles. Many of those singles are compiled here ("One Time Gaffled 'Em Up," "Late Night Hype," "Growin' Up in the Hood") as are several of Eiht's bigger solo hits ("All for the Money," "Streiht Up Menace," "Days of '89") and even some rare recordings (DJ Premier's remix of "Def Wish II"). The inclusion of Eiht's solo work is key, since he did have a few great gangsta ballads, but you could argue that those songs had little to do with Compton's Most Wanted and occupy precious disc space that could have instead featured gang-bangin' songs like "Hood Took Me Under" or "Straight Checkn' Em."


Formed: 1989 in Compton, CA

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Though N.W.A got most of the recognition, Compton's Most Wanted also did much to popularize and proliferate early-'90s West Coast gangsta rap. Led by future solo artist MC Eiht and legendary West Coast electro producer the Unknown DJ, this Compton, CA, group (also known as CMW) reveled in themes involving primarily guns, women, gangs, and drugs, setting the precedent for what would eventually become cliché. More importantly, the group possessed a knack for writing laid-back gangsta ballads characterized...
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When We Wuz Bangin, Compton's Most Wanted
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