Which Compton rap group had the most significant impact on the sound of West Coast hip-hop? The default answer is N.W.A. Featuring Ice Cube, Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, DJ Yella, MC Ren, and several others, their high-octane raps took over the hip-hop world behind tracks such as "F**k Da Police." However, N.W.A. wasn't the only group stamping a lasting impact on the West Coast hip hop scene. Adjacent to N.W.A., you had the MC Eiht-led Compton's Most Wanted. While many claim that Compton's Most Wanted was impersonating the commercially recognized N.W.A., MC Eiht, Boom Bam, DJ Mike, DJ Slip, and Tha Chill were actually recording demos before N.W.A. had released their debut album.
It's 1985, and crime is running rampant through Compton. During that time, a 15-year-old MC Eiht was brainstorming ways to let loose the violent emotions of his chaotic childhood. He formed a duo with Tha Chill, embarking on a journey that began with writing raps and recording demo tapes when the two weren't immersed in street culture. However, the duo's full-time job remained on the violent streets of Compton. Selling crack to survive, Compton's Most Wanted was forced to grow up fast.
Compton's Most Wanted Didn't Replicate N.W.A
MC Eiht and Tha Chill had begun dabbling with scratched hip-hop beats. However, it would take the two taking notice of N.W.A's financial success to be inspired to pursue rap seriously. After recording music for a few years, the two garnered attention from The Unknown DJ. He was immediately intrigued by the duo's unique chemistry and laid-back flow. Their momentum would continue to build over the next three years, leading to their debut project, It's a Compton Thang! Feeling a need to prove themselves as rappers, the group primarily boasted about their skills on the mic throughout the album.
Even if they were following in the footsteps of N.W.A., Compton's Most Wanted's sound was very much distinctive. The unique screams or growls from other West Coast MCs weren't heard in their sound. Instead, producers DJ Slip and The Unknown DJ were focused on curating a smooth collection of funk jams. The project's highlight was "Late Night Hype," solidifying the group plenty of recognition throughout the West Coast scene. The group would follow up their debut with Straight Checkn 'Em and Music to Driveby, with "Hood Took Me Under" becoming one of their most successful tracks to date.
They Intricately Rapped Over Funk-Based Beats
However, Compton Most Wanted's influence went beyond their numbers. Their most successful project peaked at No. 66 on the U.S. Charts. In essence, MC Eiht and Tha Chill walked so that future Compton MCs could run. Implementing a more relaxed style into the West Coast scene helped solidify the sentiment that West Coast hip-hop was more than the sound of N.W.A. Rather than Compton raps being a sub-genre of hip-hop, Compton Most Wanted helped make Southern Los Angeles the crown jewel of experimentation and creative expression in the hip-hop world.
This isn't to say that Compton Most Wanted was creating blissful music in a time of violence and chaos. MC Eiht was still painfully in-tune with the world around him, telling bloody tales of blacktop warfare. On No Jumper, he stated, "It basically gave a way of expressing what I saw on the daily. Now, did I think it was going to transform me to star status? I never looked at it like that." He approached topics such as redlining and the militarization of police with a sense of intimate sorry rather than utter outrage. While he was still a self-described menace to society through his lyricism, executing that narrative on an Isaac Hayes sample opened up the future of hip-hop in the area. That contrast would later appear in projects such as Compton's modern-day star Kendrick Lamar's Good Kid, m.A.A.d City.
They Released Their Last Album Gangsta Bizness In 2019
Compton's Most Wanted are the unsung heroes of West Coast hip-hop. With MC Eiht as their frontman and star, the overall proved that potent messaging could exist without aggressiveness. While N.W.A. were screaming out their rage at the corporations and establishments around them, Compton's Most Wanted had a potent storytelling impact without all of the rage.
As a result, future generations of West Coast MCs were approaching their sonic direction in a more broad-minded manner. Ultimately, Compton's Most Wanted's success would propel frontman MC Eiht into a successful solo career. While Tha Chill was in prison for two years during the group's run, he would eventually return while developing his solo career. By the early 2000s, the group was no longer consistently creating music. However, they reunited for 2019's Gangsta Bizness.