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
Years active – 1983–1986
Labels – Kru-Cut, Epic, Macola Records
Associated acts – Arabian Prince, David Lee Roth
Website – theclasscru.com
Past members – Shakespeare
DJ Alonzo Williams
The World Class Wreckin’ Cru was an electro group, best known for its contributions to early rap and its association with future-N.W.A member, hip-hop mogul, and renowned producer Dr. Dre.
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 transformed from poplocking to DJ dances under the name of Disco Construction, which name is a influence from the 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 changed its name into the Wreckin Cru. Lonzo hired local DJs Antoine “Yella” Carraby and Andre “Dr. Dre” Young who were DJs on KDAY. This period would also create history as Dre and Yella would cross paths with a teenage performing 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 caught the attention of regular patron, and local drug dealer Eric ‘Eazy-E’ Wright, who was looking to capitalize on this new fad and turn his business legal.
Before this eventuated World Class were almost the sole performers in the club, managed by Alonzo who smooth-talked his way into obtaining a record deal from CBS Records for the group and was using money generated from sales to build an inexpensive four-track recording studio at the back of the club to cut records for his acts. With the rapping of another local talent, Cli-N-Tel he opened his own label under Macola Records called Kru-Cut Records and their first recorded singles were “Surgery” and “Juice”.
By 1984, both cuts had become electro-rap favourites in the west coast club circuit and sold many copies across the coast. That same year during the Olympics the Wreckin Cru added the World Class into their name.
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 car 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.
World Class (1985)
Rapped in Romance (1986)
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)
Red Everything Movement