This past weekend, N.W.A‘s four surviving members made music together for the first time since 1989 at Coachella. “It was dope, man,” MC Ren tells Rolling Stone. “We had fun. It felt like old times. It’s been a long, long stretch.”
Although Ice Cube, Ren and Dr. Dre had toured together in 2000 on the Up in Smoke tour, and Cube had done some shows with Ren and DJ Yella last year around the release of the movie Straight Outta Compton, Coachella marked the first time they were all performing together. Previously, the first time the foursome had all been onstage together was at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony earlier this month.
“We were supposed to perform at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but something came up and we didn’t get to,” Ren says. “We were planning on doing it from the jump in New York. I can’t tell you what happened. I don’t even know. But we just didn’t get a chance to.”
At Coachella, Ren and DJ Yella joined Ice Cube for “Straight Outta Compton” and “Fuck tha Police” and Lil’ Eazy-E rapped his father’s “Boyz-N-the-Hood.” “Now wait a goddamn minute,” Cube told the crowd. “I said we was gonna have N.W.A up here, God damn it. Now we’re missing somebody up here, if you know what I mean. Is there a doctor in the motherfuckin’ house?” Dr. Dre then walked out and posed with the other members in front of a screen depicting Eazy-E before launching into Dre’s solo track “Still D.R.E.” Dre subsequently said, “DJ Yella, let’s fuck with them” before performing “California Love.”
As to why the group didn’t do an N.W.A song with Dre, Ren says it wasn’t a big deal. “It wasn’t like he didn’t want to do N.W.A songs,” he says. “That’s just how it went down. It was still dope, though.”
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Ren has especially enjoyed revisiting the Straight Outta Compton–era tracks with Ice Cube in recent months. “It’s the same way we used to do it back in the Eighties,” he says. “Me and Cube be out there doing what we do, but it’s been good. We’ve been playing a lot of little festivals or whatever. Big crowds. Everybody loves it. We love it and they love it. It’s real receptive. So it feels real good.”