We last heard from CMW on their 1991 severely overlooked sophomore effort, Straight Checkn ‘Em. They would return in ’92, with their third release, Music to Driveby.
Like the saying goes, if it aint broke don’t fix it; Eiht, DJ’s Slip, Mike T, and Unknown do just that on Music to Driveby, as they pick up where they left off at on Straight Checkn ‘Em, with Eiht providing gangsta raps and tales from the hood over soulful production provided by the latter three. In between Straight Checkn ‘Em and Music to Driveby, Eiht would gain a few new enemies (or as the kids call them, haters), as shots were fired at him by DJ Quik and Tim Dog. Eiht would spend a large portion of Music to Driveby, clapping back.
Music to Driveby would be the last album from CMW (until they reunited in 2000 and no one was checking for them), as Eiht would go solo and experience moderate success for the latter part of the nineties. On a side note: the album cover for Music to Driveby has Eiht and a homie rolling in a blue ’64 Impala, with the same picture on what appears to be a cd copy of Music to Driveby sitting next to a gun in the back seat, which cleverly plays off the double entendre the title presents. This definitely goes in the running for best album cover.
Intro – MC Eiht wets hit production chops and opens Music to Driveby with a beautifully somber piano loop (complete with the warm crackling vinyl sound) that ends to quick in my opinion. Perfect way to introduce the listener to the album.
Hit The Floor – Over a funky DJ Slip produced instrumental, Eiht spits two quick verses and fires shots at all would be competitors, including a quick jab (no pun intended) at his Compton neighbor, DJ Quik.
Hood Took Me Under – This was the lead single and could be heard playing in everybody’s boom box, Walkman, and booming system during the summer of ’92. DJ Mike T hooks up a semi-somber instrumental built around a loop from Isaac Hayes’ “Walk On By”, as Eiht pretty much covers the same ground that he did on “Growin’ Up In The Hood”. Despite the regurgitated content, this was still nice.
Jack Mode – Eiht dedicates this one to the art of jacking. He shares 3 different episodes detailing exactly how he does his dirt. DJ Slip hooks up a simple but effective instrumental laid underneath Eiht’s criminal verses.
Compton 4 Life – Someone going by the name of Master Ric Roc hooks up a hard and sinister instrumental, as Eiht paints a grim picture of what goes on in the streets of Compton. The texture of Eiht’s voice combined with his dark rhymes fit perfectly with the backdrop.
8 Iz Enough – Over a smooth and equally funky DJ Slip instrumental, Eiht reps the CPT, makes threats on your life and boasts about his lyrical prowess. Dope.
Duck Sick II – I love part 1 of this song, but part 2 is even better. DJ Slip uses the same Billy Cobham “Red Baron” loop used on the original but gives it a more relaxed feel, as Eiht calls out his adversaries. While it’s not clear who Eiht is referring to on the first two verses, he makes it crystal clear the third verse is aimed at Quik (“just squeezed in like a bitch, I guess that’s why he raps with a high pitch”). I love absolutely everything about this song.
Dead Men Tell No Lies – MC Eiht and DJ Slip both get production credits on this one, hooking up a nasty guitar loop that Eiht uses to spew more battle rhymes aimed at his rivals. Eiht’s rhymes were cool but the instrumental is the true star of this one.
N 2 Deep – Scarface makes the only guest appearance on Music to Driveby, as he and Eiht exchange verses full of gangster rhetoric. It was kind of amusing to hear Eiht refer to Scarface’s stomping ground of Houston as the midwest just to make it rhyme with “best”. DJ Slip hooks up a funky instrumental built around a Lyn Collins’ loop that is guaranteed to get your head nodding, even if you can’t relate to the duo’s hood tales.
Who’s Xxxxing Who? – Thank you CMW for putting a question mark at the end of the question posed in the song title. Eiht took some subtle shots at Tim Dog prior to this song, but he’s extremely clear at who this dis song is dedicated to. Unfortunately, DJ Slip’s instrumental is kind of underwhelming, and Eiht doesn’t land any substantial blows either. Matter of fact, DJ Mike T’s cuts are stronger shots at Tim Dog than Eiht’s rhymes are.
This Is A Gang – Not terrible, but definitely one of my least favorite songs on Music to Driveby.
Hoodrat – Long time CMW affiliate Unknown, gets his first production credit of the evening for Eiht’s ode to scandalous women who’ll do anything for a buck, lurking in a hood near you. Not terrible, but Unknown’s instrumental has a cleaner sound, which sounds more like what you would hear a few years later on Eiht’s official solo debut We Come Strapped.
Niggaz Strugglin – Eiht discusses the every day struggle of trying to make it in the hood, which is apparently a running theme throughout Music to Driveby. Master Ric Roc builds this backdrop around the same Isaac Hayes sample that Irv Gotti would use to perfection on Jay-Z’ “Can I Live”; and while it doesn’t measure up to the Jay-Z classic, it’s still solid.
I Gots Ta Get Over – Master Ric Roc gets his final production credit of the evening and hooks up a solid instrumental built around a hip-hop producer’s favorite Barry White loop (that the Beatminerz would use to perfection a few years later on Black Moon’s “I Got Cha Opin” remix). Eiht rhymes about doing what he has to do to make it by any means necessary, and the consequences that come with some of those actions.
U’s A Bitch – Now here is a song I completely forgot about. Unknown hooks up a beautiful instrumental built around Ronny Jordan’s “After Hours (The Antidote)”, as Eiht calls out the ladies trying to run game on the brothers. This was a pleasant recall.
Another Victim – Unknown completely switches gears as he bumps up the bmps compared to the previous song and pitches Eiht a nasty backdrop built around yet another Isaac Hayes loop (who was sampled so much on Music to Driveby he should have been credited as a producer) to go after his adversaries (specifically Tim Dog) again. Without landing any significant blows, Eiht still sounds decent; but Unknown’s instrumental is the true star of this one.
Def Wish II – Unknown hooks up a dark and slightly creepy backdrop for Eiht to spit more threats and take his parting shots at his “punk ass perm wearing pussy” Compton brethren, DJ. Quik.
Music To Driveby – Unknown hooks up yet another beauty of a backdrop for Eiht to give his shoutouts over. I found it pretty interesting that he gives a shoutout to AMG, considering he was beefing with his partner, DJ Quik at the time. But he can shoutout whomever he wants to, as long as this soothing instrumental plays on.
Lets be honest. MC Eiht isn’t the most prolific lyricist, and one would be hard pressed to find him on anyone’s top 10 list. That said, his laid back smoothness and undeniable swag (even before the term “swag” existed), often manifested in his signature ad lib “cheah”, are the qualities that made him beloved during the nineties and still move the younger cats, like Kendrick Lamar, to pay homage to him today. But all the smoothness and swagger in the world would mean nothing without quality production behind it. On Music to Driveby DJ’s Slip, Mike T, and Unknown (and Master Ric Roc) provide a nearly flawless array of backdrops for Eiht, whom when he’s not talking about hood politics, is going for the neck of his enemies (i.e. DJ Quik and Tim Dog). At 18 tracks in length, Music to Driveby defies the laws of long hip-hop albums by not having a single skippable moment. Music to Driveby is by far CMW’s (and Eiht’s) magnum opus, and yet another forgotten classic that 1992 produced.