Aaron Tyler is an Augusta, GA-born, Compton, CA-based emcee, best known as MC Eiht, a name which he has publicly claimed was partially inspired by KRS-One and its link to the hood culture of his hometown — in particular Olde English 800 (sometimes referred to as 8 Ball) and to .38 caliber firearms. And although he’s known as the de facto frontman of Compton’s Most Wanted, which featured Boom Bam, Tha Chill, DJ Mike T, DJ Slip and Ant Capone, he’s arguably much better known as a solo artist and actor, who starred in 1993’s Menace II Society and contributed “Streiht Up Menace” to its soundtrack, a single that’s the Compton-based emcee’s most commercially successful and best known. Now, i have to admit as a hip-hop head I’ve had periods where I’ve been primarily NYC and East Coast-ceneterd and sadly, I kind of forgot about MC Eiht; however, to his credit, he’s been extraordinarily prolific over the course of a nearly 25 year solo career, releasing 12 full-length albums, with his 13th full length effort Which Way Iz West slated for release some this year.
As it turns out, Which Way Iz West‘s latest single “Compton Zoo” is both what we should expect from the Compton-based emcee, a song focusing on Eiht’s life and times growing up in Compton with a gritty “I’ve done real shit and seen real shit out there and survived it all” honesty, over a DJ Premier production consisting of a swaggering yet soulful production featuring twinkling keys, looped horns and boom-bap beats. And while being something of an older statesman of hip-hop Eiht, who turned 50 late last month sounds driven and inspired in a way that would be a lot of younger emcees to shame.
Directed by Jae Smyth, the recently released video employs a relatively simple concept — it follows Eiht and crew as they stroll around their hometown, with frequent footage of them on a rooftop with the city stretching out beneath them; but it also shows a gritty town full of tough people, who are surviving as best as they could. And of course, there’s footage of the great DJ Premier rocking the turntables, too.