WC & The Maad Circle – “Out on a Furlough”

Bruh, WC has been in the cut for a minute!

There’s something about Los Angeles gangsta rap in that brief, but extremely innovative period after N.W.A. kicked in the door in ’88 and before Dr. Dre changed the game in ’92 with The Chronic‘s g-funk. The lid was off, as groups such as Above The Law, Cypress Hill, Compton’s Most Wanted, and rappers like Ice-T, Ice Cube, DJ Quik, and a ton of others were putting out fantastic music with a unique style and attitude. In that beautiful mix was the rapper WC, the head of the Maad Circle, which included members Coolio (yup, THAT Coolio), DJ Crazy Toones (RIP!), notable producers Big Gee and Sir Jinx, and Chilly Chill. In 1991, the group put out their debut, Ain’t A Damn Thang Changed, which surely had that “A” in Thang to differentiate itself from another group’s album of the same name from the same year.

Ain’t A Damn Thang Changed isn’t quite a timeless classic, but it’s a really solid debut, one I’ve been enjoying a lot lately. What drives this album is WC (dub-cee), who brings a lot of personality to matters. WC’s a street soldier, and spends a good chunk of the record describing the powderkeg that is South Central L.A. His hood is a place full of poverty, corrupt cops, hostile gangs, and people just trying to survive. WC’s approach is a bit more off-the-wall than say, Cube on Death Certificate. There are moments here which are more tongue-in-cheek and kind of fun, even though the subject matter is pretty weighty. The caricature is driven home by the production of Crazy Toones, Big Gee, and Sir Jinx (who handled Death Certificate and Del‘s debut!), which is full of bombastic samples, dense production, and heavy funk.

“Out On A Furlough” is a favorite of mine. A wrong move ends up with WC in prison and he’s just trying to survive til the furlough. WC’s tale of being behind bars is so casual, like this kind of shit happens to him all the time. The beat is relaxed and swinging and the hook is especially catchy with that R&Bish sample under it. The vocal sample at the end too adds a sobering dose of reality. This one’s a trip.