MC Ren

MC Ren

MC Ren, is an American rapper, songwriter and record producer from Compton, California. Ren began attending Dominguez High School, where he met his future collaborator DJ Train. At this time, he developed an interest in hip hop music, and began writing raps with his childhood friend MC Chip. Together they formed the group Awesome Crew 2 and performed at parties and night clubs. Before graduating high school, Ren decided to join the U.S. Army with a friend. He would change his mind about joining the military after watching Full Metal Jacket. He would then meet up with his childhood friend Eazy-E and start his career in rap.

In 1987, Ren was signed as a solo artist to Eazy-E's Ruthless Records, while still attending high school. However, when Ice Cube went to study for a year, Ren was asked to write songs for Eazy-Duz-It. After having written more than the half of the album, MC Ren was added to the group and they immediately started on the N.W.A album Straight Outta Compton. With a budget of $8,000 USD, the album was finished in four weeks and released in August 1988. Propelled by "Fuck Tha Police", the album became a major success, despite an almost complete absence of radio airplay or major concert tours. The FBI sent Ruthless a warning letter in response to the song's content.

One month after Straight Outta ComptonEazy-Duz-It was released. Despite containing contributions from the entire group, the album was dominated by Eazy’s persona. The production was handled by Dr. Dre and DJ Yella while the lyrics were largely written by Ren, with contributions from Ice Cube and The D.O.C.

Following Ice Cube's departure from the group in 1989, N.W.A quickly released the EP 100 Miles and Runnin'. Ice Cube, who by then had released his debut solo album, avoided mentioning his former group mates. However, N.W.A would go on to diss Ice Cube on their EP in the title track and the song "Real Niggaz", accusing him of cowardice, & question his authenticity, longevity & originality, comparing him to Benedict Arnold. All lyrics were written by Ren, with contributions by The D.O.C. The group's 2nd full-length studio album Niggaz4Life was released the next year. Selling 955,000 copies in the 1st week, it became the first rap album to enter #1 on the Billboard charts. This album would become the group's final as Dr. Dre left the group over financial disputes with Jerry Heller.

As N.W.A disbanded, Ren started recording his 1st solo release titled Kizz My Black Azz. The 6-track EP was entirely produced by DJ Bobcat, except for one song that he produced himself. Released in summer 1992, the EP was a hit, commercially and critically. Without any radio play, the EP went Platinum within 2 months. Ren began recording for his debut album, at that time called Life Sentence, in late 1992. In the middle of the recording process, Patterson he joined The Nation Of Islam with guidance from DJ Train. This caused him to scrap Life Sentence, and Shock Of The Hour was released in late 1993. The album debuted at #1 on the R&B charts, selling 321,000 copies in its 1st month. Shock of the Hour was regarded as more focused, yet even more controversial, & critics accused him again of being anti-white, misogynist, & antisemitic. The album is thematically divided into two sides; the first half deals with social issues like ghetto life, drug addiction, racism and poverty. The second half shows Ren's political side, as this half was recorded after he joined the Nation of Islam. The album features the hit singles "Same Old Shit" and "Mayday On The Frontline".

After 2 years of not talking to each, Ren reunited with Eazy-E in 1994 to produce their duet song "Tha Muthpukkin' Real" produced by DJ Yella, with Ren co-producing. Three months later; on March 26, 1995, Eazy-E would die from complications of AIDS. The song "Tha Muthpukkin' Real" was released as a single in 1995.

Ren soon fell on hard times when both DJ Train & Eazy-E died before the release of The Villain in Black. The album, which was released in early 1996 and represented Ren's first attempt at imitating the G-funk sound of Dr. Dre's The Chronic, was not well received by critics. It was also heavily criticized for what many saw as Patterson's pandering to gangsta rap at the cost of a reduction in the socio-political content found on his earlier releases. The album debuted at #31 on the pop-charts, with the 1st week's sales of 31,000 copies. By the next month it had sold 131,000 copies.

Before leaving Ruthless, Ren released Ruthless for Life in 1998, which proved a small comeback, selling moderately well. The album features Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, RBX and 8Ball & MJG, and others. This was the first time Ren worked with new producers. By the end of 1998, Patterson had left Ruthless.