This is an installment in The Posse Project, a 12-day series in which www.PHXmusic.com catches up with all 12 guys pictured on the cover of N.W.A's first album, N.W.A. and the Posse. Today, we continue with MC Ren, a rapper/writer who joined N.W.A just before the group's meteoric rise and stayed loyal to his childhood friend Eazy E until Eazy's death.
Also Known As: Lorenzo Jerald Patterson, The Villain in Black.
Before the Photo: Though he's lined up right next to Eazy, Cube, Dre, and Arabian Prince — rounding out the so-called classic lineup of N.W.A — Ren was not actually a member of the the group when this record cover was shot, he says. Rather, he was just another solo rapper signed to Eric "Eazy E" Wright's record label.
"I was with Ruthless, signed right out of high school as a solo artist, so I was with Eric every day," Ren tells me. "I was going to do a song for Eric, but I wasn't in the group at that time. He just told me to come up there and get in the picture with him because everybody was having their homies hooked up."
In the Photo: MC Ren, like his friend MC Chip (standing to his left), is wearing the traditional N.W.A uniform, which is a black baseball hat, T-shirt, and jeans.
"If you look at the picture, it don't even look how N.W.A. look, you know what I mean?" Ren says. "If you look on that album cover, you'll see that me and my homie Chip got on the Raiders hats. That was my thing — the Raiders hats and all that. That was before I even got in the group."
After the Photo: MC Ren has released six solo records, the most recent coming out in 2009. His first solo record, Kizz My Black Azz, went platinum and peaked at No. 12 on the Billboard Top 200. He's also done verses on solo records released by both Dr. Dre and Ice Cube.
Now: In addition to having a new EP in the works, Ren is rumored to be part of the N.W.A. movie project that Cube and Dre are working on.
People Don't Know: Eazy E was a laid-back practical joker, not a thug.
"Eric was more like a hustler in the streets. He wasn't really no gang banger, you know what I'm saying? People always trip out when I say that because they think he just a straight gang banger. But he wasn't like that at all," Ren says. "He was funny — always trying to pull practical jokes and shit. A funny dude. A cool dude, you know what I'm saying? He handled business, but after he handled business — or even while he handled business — he always had a joke."
"A lot of people have other thoughts about him, how they think he was, from the records and all that shit. A lot of people think he would just straight-up shoot somebody. You know, trippin', mean, gangstered out and all that shit. But, you know, he was the total opposite. He was just like one of the coolest motherfuckers you'd want to meet. Just cool."
People Don't Know: MC Ren got into N.W.A. only because Ice Cube briefly left the group to go to college in Phoenix, and because Eazy couldn't rap to fast beats.
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"Ice Cube had wrote 'Boyz-N-The-Hood' and all that shit, and he went out to Phoenix. And when he went out to Phoenix, they wanted me to write songs for E, so I wrote 'Eazy Does It,' 'Radio,' and 'Ruthless Villan.' I don't know if you remember that song. It was called 'Ruthless Villan' and it was on Eazy's shit. He couldn't rap it because it was too fast. When he tried to go in there and do it, that shit was too fast. So Dre was like, 'You just go in there and do that shit,' and Eazy was like, 'Yeah, you do it, man,' because it was upbeat and he was used to rapping slow. And so when I did that and it was on his record, everbody was just like, 'Well, you might as well be in the group.' And from there, I was in the group."
People Don't Know: Eazy's feelings were really hurt by Dr. Dre's defection to the upstart Death Row records, which was begun by Suge Knight, a bodyguard Eazy had hired for Ruthless.
"[Eric] was hurt by all that shit. And he was hurt because him and Dre started out back in the day, back in Compton. Before all the record company shit, they were a DJ crew, High-Powered Productions, doing house parties and shit like that. Dre was the tightest producer ever, putting out hits on him, and he was hurting like a motherfucker. Especially when them records came out — hurt like a motherfucker."
Check out the other installments in the Posse Project Here: