World Class Wreckin' Cru
|This article does not cite any references or sources. (June 2007)|
|World Class Wreckin' Cru|
|Also known as||The Cru, The World Cru Bangers|
|Origin||Compton, California, U.S.|
|Genres||Old school hip hop, R&B|
|Labels||Kru-Cut, Epic, Macola Records|
|Associated acts||Uncle Jamm's Army, C.I.A., The Unknown DJ, N.W.A|
DJ Alonzo Williams
World Class Wreckin' Cru debuted in a club owned by one of the early West Coast DJs, Alonzo Williams. Before he opened "Eve After Dark" in 1979, Alonzo was one of the most popular djs in the Los Angeles area.He began producing dances under the name of Disco Construction, named after funk group Brass Construction. Seeing the popularity of this new craze, he entered the market of running nightclub performances. The club opened with Detroit-born Andre Manuel aka Unknown DJ directing the music program whose main influence derived from an east coast flavour, Soulsonic Force, Orbit and Scorpio.
As the 1980s arrived, so did electronic funk, sampling drum beats fused with old school rap format. Disco Construction created a sub group called the into Wreckin' Cru which were the Lonzos roadies and later adding World Class it became the name of the recording group.. Lonzo hired local DJs Antoine "Yella" Carraby and Andre "Dr. Dre" Young who later became the original Mix Masters for KDAY. After being signed to CBS records Lonzo was asked did he have any other acts? After seeing Dre's cousin Jinx group perform in and rap contest in a teenage group called C.I.A. (group) (Cru' In Action) starring O'Shea "Ice Cube" Jackson, Dre’s cousin Tony ‘Sir Jinx’ Wheatob and Darrell ‘K-Dee’ Johnson who after Dre recorded a demo tape called "She's a Skag" the group was signed to a single deal with CBS.
Before this happened, Wreckin' Cru performed in various shows around L.A. including opening for New Edition as well as multiple shows promoted by Lonzo. The Wreckin Cru signed to CBS in 1986 along with CIA. After being released from CBS the WCWC went on to have their biggest hit ever "Turn off The Lights". WCWC was known as a dance and romance act with songs like Surgery, Juice, Cabbage Patch, Lovers and Turn Off The Lights.
Success and breakup
By 1985 Kru-Cut had produced World Class’ debut album, ‘World Class’, with Cli-N-Tel leaving to control his own direction in life, leaving the group’s dancer Shakespear to step up to be the prominent MC as they signed with Epic Records. With this they released a string of singles and also their second album, Rapped In Romance.
World Class’s success was building a strong army of fans in the underground scene and each member a valued reputation. At this stage the look of Prince and Michael Jackson’s Thriller outfits were cool, glitzy purple leather suits, sequin suits not unlike the glam-rock look running parallel to this scene, Dre was growing tired of the image and considered Lonzo’s direction to be soft and yearned to control his own expression in music. He was bound to Lonzo’s Kru-Cut Records contract and often found himself in debt to him for using his recording studio and bail money every time he was put behind bars in jail for unpaid fines on his car. In order to pay this off, Dre worked endlessly for Lonzo DJing and producing tracks for World Class’s and Kru Cut’s recordings.
At this time Dre was working on side projects for local entrepreneur Eric ‘Eazy-E’ Wright in the Kru-Cut studio and Ice Cube was enlisted to ghostwrite for the World Class single ‘House Calls/Cabbage Patch’ single in 1987 and shortly after, featuring Michel'le, (Dre’s girlfriend) came out the slow jam hit "Before You Turn off the Lights", which peaked at #91 in April 1988. Dre was arrested and thrown back in jail after his Mazda RX7 was impounded for compounding car fines of over $900, Lonzo wasn’t prepared to bail him out, Eazy-E paid this out in return for Dre’s production trade for E’s new record company ‘Ruthless Records’. This disrupted the continuation of the World Class Wreckin’ Cru clique with Dre spending more time working under Eazy, Lonzo hung onto the master tapes of World Class releasing Turn Off The Lights In The Fast Lane album which entered the R&B Top 40 in 1988 concurrent with Eazy and Dre’s combined collaboration of talent known as N.W.A. Lonzo released a further LP called ‘Phases in Life’ released in 1990 under Lonzo’s solo identity. Later, remaining World Class members, Shakespeare pursued a position as a pastor. Michel'le dated Dr. Dre and released an album on Ruthless Records. Lonzo attempted to play off the big success of the group's last single by reassembling a new World Class Wreckin Cru.
- The Best Of The World Class Wreckin' Cru (1987)
- Turn Off The Lights In The Fast Lane (1991)
- Dr. Dre Vs World Class Wreckin' Crew (2005)
- Audio Interview with Lonzo & complete Biography on westcoastpioneers
- World Class Wreckin' Cru at AllMusic