Ain't A Damn Thang Changed

WC's oft-overlooked career in hip-hop began as half of Low Profile, who in 1990 were a upstart duo on Priority Records laying the foundation for the West Coast G-Funk era. Dr. Dre may be credited with inventing the genre, but Low Pro, and in particular WC's follow-up supergroup, the Maad Circle (Minority Alliance of Anti-Discrimination), were responsible for planting the seed. But where The Chronic and Snoop's solo debut typically glorified the gansta' lifestyle, the Maad Circle wrote from the perspective of former bangers telling their tales and the roadblocks involved in escaping that cycle. Certainly Ain't a Damn Thing Changed is rife with South Central L.A. - Blood vs. Crips imagery, but on the whole, songs like "Fuck My Daddy" and "Out on a Furlough" are socially conscious, as there's an underlying message in each. Stories of police brutality (keep in mind this was pre-Rodney King), absence of patriarchal figures in the ghetto, selling out, the ease of getting sucked back into the hustle when trying to follow the "straight and narrow," all get intertwined into what is a deep and sonically fluid narrative. While not exactly a concept record, the singular concepts easily conjure the harsh reality the 90's had to offer aspiring West Coast rappers.

Perhaps the true godfather of G-Funk is producer Sir Jinx (best known as the man behind Ice Cube's stellar trio of solo records post-N.W.A.) who here did his best to present a Left Coast version of the Bomb Squad, instead of cathartic edits and militant black samples he presented a smooth blend of late 70's funk, humorous skits that do little to detour the and most evident, the album's hypnotic, low-rider beats. In addition the Maad Circle boasted a young, hungry, and most of all talented Coolio along with DJ Crazy Toons (Cube's cousin) a turntable master to be reckoned with (check "Get Up on that Funk" for proof).

At the center though was WC, and while this group debut is an underrated (and mostly unheard and out of print) classic, his terse yet fatherly cadence has been mis-used in his career post-Maad Circle. On this record you feel his life story unfold before you, given with a voice that barely has time to regret but does, barely has time to attack but does, and barely realizes how vital his foreboding might become in the future but there's a slight confidence here that suggests he does. And I suppose that's where this column comes in. Find this tape by any means necessary -- WC was no soothsayer, nor the black CNN of the time (that title went to Chuck D, KRS-One, and Ice Cube), more a regular cog stuck in the ills of his community and calmly warning of the apocalypse that may result from continuing such behavior.

On a lighter note, he went on to create typical, streamlined, G-Funk with Westside Connection, but returned artistically with the amusing Ghetto Heisman.

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