After the release of It’s a Compton Thang the Chill MC was sentenced to prison, leaving his partner in rhyme MC Eiht to carrier on the CMW torch by himself. Well, not really by himself. He still had his DJ Mike T and the severely underrated production team of DJ Slip and The Unknown DJ. CMW followed up their debut in 1991 with their sophomore effort Straight Checkn’Em.
Like their previous record Straight Checkn’Em didn’t move a ton of units but it did garner quite a bit of critical acclaim and helped CMW developed a bigger core following, largely based on their biggest hit, that will discuss a little later in this post. CMW would go on to release one more album together before Eiht would drop the CMW title and go solo, though he would continue to work closely with DJ Slip and Mike-T.
Intro – Straight Checkn’Em opens with a medley of songs from It’s a Compton Thang…
They Still Gafflin – This could also be referred to as “One Time Gaffled ‘Em Up 2”. Not terrible but not very impressive, either.
Growin’ Up In The Hood – This is without question CMW’s biggest hit. This single was also included on the Boyz N The Hood Soundtrack, receiving heavy rotation during the summer of 91′. Eiht and what sounds like the Chill MC (making his only appearance on Straight Checkn’Em, which is useless as it’s clear he’s just reciting rhymes that Eiht wrote for him) each spit 2 verses about a young man coming of age in the hood and the obstacles the environment presents. The Slip & Unknown’s instrumental is dark and disturbing which complements the verses perfectly. This is a certified classic.
Wanted – Slip and Unknown sample a little Barry White, James Brown, and Funkadelic for the backdrop as Eiht weaves back and forth between gangsta posing and bragging about his microphone prowess. Nice.
Straight Checkn ‘Em – Eiht’s in straight emcee mode on this title track as he goes hard over this hard instrumental.
I Don’t Dance – And just like that, Straight Checkn’Em looses its momentum. The instrumental sounds like an attempt at a funk joint but ends up sounding like a bunch of noise. Eiht doesn’t even sound like he believes in this one.
Raised In Compton – Slip and Unknown chop up Young-Holt Unlimited’s take on the “People Make The World Go Round” record for this one as Eiht gives detailed verses of life coming up in Compton. Though it’s not as potent as Quik’s “Born And Raised In Compton”, it still works.
Driveby Miss Daisy – The title doesn’t quite fit Eiht’s verses, as neither of his murder tales would qualify as a drive-by shootings. Further more, neither of the shooting victims are women, which makes the song title even more ludicrous (and I aint talking about Christopher Bridges). Slip and Unknown sample Lou Donaldson’s “Pop Belly” record (which Main Source would use later the same year on “Just A Friendly Game of Baseball”) for the instrumental which gives the record a bleak feel that matches Eiht’s dark rhymes to perfection. I love the drunken piano stabs mixed with the gunshot sound bites scattered throughout the hook.
Def Wish – CMW carriers over the dark momentum from the previous song as Eiht sends relentless threats to all adversaries within earshot (I love his line “I’ll haunt your studio become your ghost lyricist”). Premier used the same Blackbyrds sample for the Gang Starr record “Say Your Prayers” earlier the same year (this wouldn’t be the last time Slip and Unknown would borrow the same sample as Premier for a record). I actually prefer Slip and Unknown’s interpretation over Premier’s.
Compton’s Lynchin – Slip and Unknown pretty much rip off Johnny “Guitar” Watson “Superman Lover” wholesale as Eiht continues his assault on all competition. This was decent.
Mike T’s Funky Scratch – I found nothing funky about this scratch.
Can I Kill It? – Eiht poses this question to a couple of chicks concerning their twat. The Slip and Unknown instrumental samples Teddy Pendergrass’ “Love T.K.O.” (before Ahmad made it into a summertime anthem a few years later with “Back In The Day”) on the first verse and the Isley Brother’s “Footsteps in the Dark” (before Ice Cube used it for his hit record “It Was A Good Day”) for the second verse, with a touch of Shalamar’s “This Is For The Lover In You” on the hook. This song is essential for midnight marauding. Or theme music while driving to a late night booty call. Which could also be one and the same.
Gangsta Shot Out – Slip and Unknown provide some sick dark piano stabs as the backdrop for Eiht to spit one quick verse before he gives his shoutouts and Straight Checkn’Em fades to black.
Straight Checkn’Em has a much darker feel than It’s a Compton Thang. With the absence of Chill, Eiht impressively steps up his emcee game as he holds down the entire album without any guest appearances (with the exception of “Growin’ Up In the Hood” which features Chill spitting a verse that was clearly written by Eiht), a feat rarely seen in the current era of hip-hop. Slip and Unknown create a cohesive dark mood throughout that Eiht sounds right at home spilling his verses over. In a year packed with monster albums, Straight Checkn’Em is one that gets severely overlooked.