The best fake fact on Wikipedia is that MC Ren studied classical literature at Brown. It's a strain of truthiness so absurd as to be almost believable. Except when I mention it to the former enforcer of N.W.A, he roars. "Fuck no, I didn't go to no Brown," says the man born Lorenzo Patterson. "I didn't even go to college. I wish I did."
The Villain in Black never needed Nietzsche. Critics fauxlosophized that the "N" in N.W.A also stood for nihilism, but Ren took a simpler approach. See the title of his 1992 solo debut: Kizz My Black Azz.
And now the man who co-wrote "Straight Outta Compton" lives in Palm Springs. That's like finding out that Genghis Khan lives with cats in a Burbank condo.
You imagine 43-year-old MC Ren sitting on a throne of skulls or leading guerrilla rebellions in the Arab world. You don't expect him in salmon-colored Palm Springs surrounded by Semites named Saul.
"I've been here for two years," Ren says via phone. "It's hot as hell and I ain't got a pool, but I got family out here. It took getting used to." That may be an understatement. After all, Andre 3000 declared on "Aquemini" that "Faith is what you make it/That's the hardest shit since MC Ren." And during the heyday of gangsta rap, Ren was so hard that he delivered lyrical chin checks while simultaneously sermonizing on racial and economic inequity.
But the menacing one has mellowed. He's extremely private and rarely grants interviews. Yet he readily retells most of his story, using the phrase "whoomp whoomp" like Elaine Benes employed "Yadda yadda."
He was born and raised on East Pauline Street, next to a busy Compton intersection where Eazy-E used to slang drugs. His older brother befriended Eric Wright, and after "Boyz-n-the-Hood" blew up (but before Ice Cube returned home from his brief collegiate detour in Arizona), the younger Patterson was invited to join N.W.A. Straight Outta Compton soon turned them into national sensations.