Classic Collaborations: CPO (Lil’ Nation) & MC Ren -“Ballad Of A Menace”

While visiting his old neighborhood in Compton, California, N.W.A frontman MC Ren discovered something unexpected, something “BIG”. A rogue, 6ft, 300lb menace named Vince Edwards, aka Lil Nation. MC Ren had known Lil Nation for years but had only been recently made aware that his neighborhood homeboy was into hip-hop. Lil Nation’s younger brother, Andre “Bokie” Edwards, and another friend named Chip (who appears and is mentioned in the “Ballad of a Menace” video) had told Ren of Lil Nation’s lyric spitting exploits. Lil Nation was very reluctant to let the seasoned N.W.A. star hear his material, even if they were friends. Eventually, he relented, and much to his surprise and relief Ren was impressed, and immediately took Lil Nation to the studio to record him. When the session came to a close, MC Ren informed Lil Nation that he was going to sign him to his company, MC Ren Productions.

Lil Nation was intended to be the spearhead of a new group called C.P.O., the Capital Punishment Organization, but by some strange turn of events, everyone mistook CPO to be his name. The name Lil Nation, despite exhausting attempts to retain it, was unfortunately lost in the shuffle. One of CPO’s first opportunities to be seen by the public was, indirectly, by way of his brother Bokie, who starred in the lead role of the now historic west coast video, “We’re All in the Same Gang”. Bokie cleverly gave his brother product placement by wearing a T-shirt that had the CPO logo printed unavoidably large on the front. Shortly thereafter, the debut album from CPO entitled, To Hell and Black dropped on Capitol Records. The album had a nice debut after excerpts of his video for “Ballad of a Menace”, were chosen to air in the opening credits of the popular 90s hip-hop show Yo MTV Raps.

With the lead single off To Hell and Black, CPO and MC Ren delivered a stellar and undeniable classic song together. Emceeing alongside an in his prime MC Ren, it was mandatory that CPO come with his A-game or be swallowed up by the sheer tenacity of the Villain’s flow. CPO not only stood toe-to-toe with the Ruthless Villain, but he also stands all the way up and commands the mic with his delivery and demands that you respect him as an emcee.

Kicking off the song, CPO introduces himself with, “This is the ballad of a menace / Not to be confused with that of a grimace / I’m in this to be number one when I step upon and walk the streets / Stalk the meat like that of a predator / Blow the brains out the head of my competitors / I’m a product of your sins, though you say I never heard of ya / A killer, a dope dealer, gangster murderer / Merciless maniac, monical manipulation / Primary focus of your local police station”

The MC Ren-produced song uses Issac Hayes’ Joy as its foundation, while DJ Train cuts up the Ice Cube quote on the breaks, “I’m A Menace” and the famous stab from Funk Inc’s “Kool Is Back” throughout the verses.

MC Ren steps to the mic on verse two and obliterates the sucker MC’s as he raps, “This is a ballad of a menace, Ren will finish and diminish / All the suckers that thought they could flow like me that was in this / Society wishes for my death or my downfall, but they playin’ theyself as if they playin’ some roundball / ‘Cause I’m terrorizin’, the territory I’m steppin’ on / Endangerin’ citizens while I’m keepin’ my weapon on”

In lasting memory of CPO Boss Hogg, check out “Ballad Of A Menace” featuring MC Ren below: