Lorenzo Jerald Patterson (born June 16, 1966), better known by his stage nameMC Ren, is an American rapper from Compton, California. He is the founder and owner of the record label Villain Entertainment. His moniker is derived from the middle letters in his first name (Lorenzo).
Ren began his solo career signed as a solo artist to Eazy-E's Ruthless Records in early 1987, while still attending high school. By the end of 1987, after having written almost half of Eazy-E's debut album Eazy-Duz-It, he was included in the influential gangsta rap group N.W.A with Eazy-E, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, and DJ Yella, which popularized the use of explicit lyrics in rap to detail the violence of street life. Ren was featured in Straight Outta Compton, 100 Miles and Runnin', and Niggaz4Life. After the group disbanded in 1991, he stayed with Ruthless, putting out the Platinum-RIAA selling Kizz My Black Azz, before leaving the label in 1999.
Lorenzo Patterson was born in Compton, California on June 16, 1966 and raised on East Pauline Street, around Kelly Park, the same street Eazy-E grew up on. He grew up with his parents, two brothers and a sister. His father used to work for "the government", until he later opened up his own barber shop.
Growing up in Compton, Patterson joined the Kelly Park Compton Crips along with Eazy E, but quickly left the gang-situation when he wasn't making any money: "At one moment I tried to get into the little banging thing, but the little banging thing wasn't working out. I wasn't getting paid." Leaving the gang, Patterson began selling dope after watching people getting paid: " I seen everybody around me getting paid and making ends, so I started getting into the dope game for a quick minute." Following a raid on his childhood friend MC Chip's house, Patterson abandoned the dope game and focused on making music: "Then my homie Chip, his house got raided, fucked up everything. So we had to chill out for a minute. After that I was just trying to stay deep into the music."
Patterson began attending Dominguez High School, where he met his future collaborator DJ Train. At this time, Patterson 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, MC 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.
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Career Beginnings 1987–1991
MC Ren was at the beginning signed as a solo artist to Eazy-E's Ruthless Records, while still attending high school in 1987. However, when Ice Cube went to study for a year, Ren was asked to write songs for Eazy-E's debut album 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. In only 4 weeks and a budget of $8,000 USD, the album was finished & released in the summer of 1988. Propelled by the hit "Fuck tha Police", the album became a major success, despite an almost complete absence of radio airplay or major concert tours. The Federal Bureau of Investigation sent Ruthless Records a warning letter in response to the song's content.
One month after Straight Outta Compton, Eazy-E's solo debut Eazy-Duz-It was released. The album was dominated by Eazy's persona (MC Ren was the only guest rapper) but behind the scenes it was a group effort. Music was handled by Dr. Dre and DJ Yella; the lyrics were largely written by MC Ren, with contributions from Ice Cube & 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 diss Ice Cube on their EP in the title track and the song "Real Niggaz", accusing him of cowardice, & question his authenticity, longevity & originality. All lyrics were written by MC Ren, with contributions by The D.O.C. The group's second full-length album Niggaz4Life was released the next year. Selling 954,000 copies in the first week, it became the first rap album to enter #1 on the Billboard charts. This album would become the group's final because Dr. Dre left the group over money disputes with the manager Jerry Heller.
According to MC Ren, it was common opinion that Heller was the one receiving their due:
We felt he didn’t deserve what he was getting. We deserved that shit. We were the ones making the records, traveling in vans and driving all around the place. You do all those fucking shows trying to get known, and then you come home to a fucking apartment. Then you go to his house, and this motherfucker lives in a mansion. There’s gold leaf trimmings all in the bathroom and all kinds of other shit. You’re thinking, “Man, fuck that.”
Solo career: 1992–present
As N.W.A disbanded, MC Ren started recording his first solo release titled Kizz My Black Azz. The six-track EP was entirely produced by DJ Bobcat, except for one track which was produced by MC Ren. Released in Summer 1992, the EP was an instant hit, both commercially and critically. Despite minimal promotion and no radio play, the EP went Platinum by The RIAA within 2 months. Following the release of Kizz My Black Azz, MC Ren was set to play the role of A-Wax in the violent crime drama Menace II Society. However, Ren turned down the role for unknown reasons, and the role was later given to MC Eiht.
Ren began recording for his debut album, at that time called Life Sentence, in late 1992. In the middle of the recording process, Ren suddenly 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 first 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 MC 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".
In 1994, MC Ren had reunited with former N.W.A member Eazy-E, after two years of not talking to each other, in their duet "Tha Muthpukkin' Real". It was produced by DJ Yella, with MC Ren co-producing. The song was recorded two weeks before Eazy-E's death.
MC 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 & represented MC 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 MC Ren's pandering to gangsta rap, & reducing the socio-political content found on his earlier efforts. The album debuted at #31 on the pop-charts, with the first week's sales of 31,000 copies. By the next month it had sold 131,000 copies, a significant decrease from his earlier releases.
Before leaving Ruthless Records, Ren released Ruthless for Life in 1998 which proved a small comeback, selling moderately well. The album features fellow N.W.A member Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, RBX and 8Ball & MJG, and others. This was the first time MC Ren worked with new producers. By the end of 1998, MC Ren had left Ruthless Records.
In 2009, MC Ren released his fourth studio album entitled Renincarnated, which was released under his own record label Villain Entertainment on October 31, 2009. Renincarnated was only released in the US.
MC Ren is working on his second EP, titled Rebel Music. It is expected to be released by the end of 2015. So far two singles have been released: the title track, "Rebel Music", and "Burn Radio Burn". The official remix for "Rebel Music" was released in June 2014 and features fellow N.W.A member Ice Cube. The official remix for "Burn Radio Burn" is expected to released soon and features Chuck D of Public Enemy. The whole EP is set to be produced by E-A-Ski.
In 1988, MC Ren assisted on the debut album of Eazy-E, titled Eazy-Duz-It. Although a solo album by Eazy-E, behind the scenes it was a group effort. MC Ren, the only guest rapper on the album, features raps of his own on almost half of the album. Music was handled by Dr. Dre and DJ Yella; the lyrics were largely written by MC Ren, with contributions from Ice Cube and The D.O.C..
In 1990, MC Ren produced the whole debut album for his protege group CPO, titled To Hell and Black. The group consisted of CPO Boss Hogg, DJ Train and Young D. After the release of their debut album the group split up. CPO Boss Hogg went to have a semi-successful solo career, featuring on high-profile albums of N.W.A, Dr. Dre and Tupac Shakur, while DJ Train stayed with MC Ren.
In 1993, MC Ren introduced a new group called The Whole Click. The group featured Ren's longtime collabrotar Bigg Rocc, Grinch, Bone and MC Ren's brother Juvenile. The group first appeared on MC Ren's debut album Shock of the Hour. It later split up, with Bigg Rocc continuing to collaborate with MC Ren, featuring on all his solo albums.
In 2000, he appeared on the song "Hello" which featured Dr. Dre and Ice Cube on Ice Cube's War & Peace Vol. 2 (The Peace Disc) album. He joined the Up In Smoke Tour that same year just to rap this verse on this track. He appeared on the posse cut "Some L.A. Niggaz" from Dr. Dre's 2001 album.
His most recent work has appeared on some more politically oriented projects such as with Public Enemy, specifically Paris' album Hard Truth Soldiers Vol. 1 as well as on Public Enemy's album Rebirth of a Nation. Paris stated in an interview with Rapstation.com that "MC Ren is retired and won't be doing a full-length album as far as I know. I get at him for verses, that's about it."
John Singleton, the director of Boyz n the Hood, claimed that the whole group of N.W.A was supposed to be cast for the main roles for the movie. However, in the end it was only Ice Cube who took the offer seriously.
In 2004, MC Ren released the straight-to-DVD movie Lost in the Game. The movie was produced, written and directed by MC Ren, with Playboy T assisting. It was an independent movie released on MC Ren's company Villain Entertainment.
In June 1993, he married Yaasamen Alaa, with whom he has five children. His oldest son, Anthony, is an aspiring rapper under the name "Waxxie", and has collaborated with other sons of N.W.A members.
In April 1993, MC Ren began attending a mosque, and by July he was a fully registered member of the Nation of Islam, known as Lorenzo X. Two years later he left the organization and converted to Sunni Islam.
Together with N.W.A, MC Ren popularized the subgenre of the gangsta rap and west coast hip hop while also being credited by many as one of the seminal groups in the history of hip hop music. He also endured controversy due to his music's explicit lyrics that many viewed as being disrespectful of women, as well as its glorification of drugs, and crime.
MC Ren is noted as a proficient lyricist and storyteller and is regarded as a brutally honest rapper; his lyrics are often political or socio-political, as well as violent and aggressive, and he is considered one of the founding artists in gangsta rap. Most of his lyrics focus on controversial issues in global politics. The views expressed in his lyrics are largely commentary on issues such as class struggle, socialism, poverty, religion, government, imperialism and institutional racism.
- Studio albums
- Extended Plays
- 1992: Kizz My Black Azz
- TBA: Rebel Music
- With N.W.A
|1993||Niggaz4Life: The Only Home Video||Himself||Documentary|
|2000||Up In Smoke Tour||Himself||Concert Film|
|2005||Lost in the Game||The Vill||Main Role|