Album: Straight Checkn 'Em
Label: Orpheus
Producer: DJ Slip, The Unknown DJ

Anchored by a sample of Joe Simon's “Theme From Cleopatra Jones,” “Growin' Up In the Hood” is the song that transforms Blaxploitation dreams into a gangbanger's deep blues. MC Eiht sets his narrative in the mid-1980s, before Compton culture went mainstream, before the Crips and Bloods had their own rap albums, back when the gangsters C-Walked to James Brown.

There's something in this song that goes beyond the G-Rap trend of the 1990s and connects to an ancient form of ghetto nihilism. “This is a two-by-four, I'll trim it down to fit my hand / When I get through with you this time baby / You know I'll treat your man.” Those were the words of west coast blues man Lowell Fulson in “Double Trouble,” which was recorded on Central Avenue in 1949, but could have just as believably come from MC Eiht on the same block, forty years later.