This was shocking. I went from the smoothly orchestrated, sexy-but-department-store-esque Steely Dan to some pre-mainstream hip-hop featuring Ice Cube and Dr. Dre in their early days.
I’ve gotta say, I love the diversity that this album added to the RS150 so far (even if I’m only 7 albums in, which is wild in itself).
Released in 1988, Straight Outta Compton features Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, DJ Yella, The D. O. C. and the Arabian Prince.
Image via Wikipedia
N.W.A. is like the launching point for “gangsta-rap”…or at least close to it. And its really characterized on this album by insane amounts of explicit lyrics, with a lot of guns and drugs, and rebellious lyrics.
- Straight Outta Compton
- Gangsta Gangsta
- F— Tha Police
- If It Ain’t Ruff
- Parental Discretion Iz Advised
- Something Like That
- 8 Ball (Remix)
- Express Yourself
- Compton’s In The House (Remix)
- I Ain’t Tha 1
- Dopeman (Remix)
- Quiet On Tha Set
- Something 2 Dance 2
The album starts with an intro of the rappers who are, Straight Outta Compton, California. It also has tracks like ‘F— Tha Police’, which focuses on racial profiling and police brutality. The lyrics were so explicit and controversial at the time that a lot of N.W.A. was blocked from radio play and even banned from concerts. If I’m not mistaken, their record company may have battled with the authorities because of such violent lyrics. I’m not sure about that 100% though.
So really, I was totally shocked when I listened to this album after Steely Dan. That wasn’t a joke. It was like doing a 180. But my first impressions (which were supported by a bit of research on the inter-web) were that this album was genre-defining and really established hip-hop and rap in a new way. The lyrics are powerful on this album, even if they are explicit. And the beats on this album remind me of albums that are being released now. The tracks on this album are really up-to-date, but they were recorded in 88 – thats more than 20 years ago! The emphasis and the style of rap accompanying the drum tracks definitely remind me of any late 80’s early 90’s rap that I’ve heard, but I really think that the beats could easily be re-used in a current release (perhaps with a bit of re-mastering) and they would sound great.
So there are two major parts to this album that I was really impressed with: my first realization, which was how their beats/drum tracks are apparently timeless, and second, the power of the lyrics (again, even if they are super explicit and/or violent).
I totally see how this album fits into the RS150. Check out ‘Express Yourself’ for a James Brown-esque tune in the middle of the album that’s got a great groove to it (and is mostly free of profanity, actually). It’s also a theme that speaks on the idea of censorship, which was a huge issue with N.W.A.
Also, if you want a blast from the past, check out some of their videos on YouTube.
I think Dr. John is next, who I hadn’t heard about until this list. We’ll see how that goes!