Monday, December 17, 2007

NWA-Straight Outta Compton 20th Anniversary 2xLP (Priority, Ruthless)

I've always had a passing interest in rap music, though it wasn't ever even close to the focal point of my listening. I always liked more intelligent hip hop styled stuff like Wu-Tang Clan, A Tribe Called Quest, or newer stuff like the Anticon Record stuff and, of course, Atmosphere and
Aesop Rock. But c'mon, NWA ruled. It's just hardcore punk from the really bad areas of SoCal. If the Adolescents had been from Compton and had actually taken the time to try and get an education past the 8th grade, they probably would have put out this record in '81.

Anything I would say trying to explain this band to someone that, for some reason, never heard of them, would all be included in the Wikipedia article about them. We all know that Dre was knocked for supposedly stealing beats and rhymes, and there are dozens of stories about tensions in the group that I don't think anyone except those members still living will ever really know about, but that doesn't matter. It doesn't matter that the band deliberately recorded certain cuts on this record for the sole purpose of having a "single" that would push the album onto the charts ("Something 2 Dance 2"), or that there are still debates on how royalties were split. What matters is that this record, 20 years later, is still honest and pulls no punches. People complain about rap music nowadays like it's a brand new thing, but this record is more raw than pretty much anything coming out now, and it's 20 years old. There are traces of misogyny, it glorifies the gangster lifestyle to a degree, but it accomplishes it's goal of exposing street life and getting those living it to take a hard look at how they live their life. "I Ain't Tha 1", which is skewed (understandably) as a sexist response to "needy bitches", but in actuality the intention is to rally against women in the ghetto who latch onto drug dealers for their money and ignore/suck dry people playing it straight who can't afford to keep up with the Jones'. "Dopeman" is supposedly a glorification drug-dealers and users, but it was the only way they could communicate what they saw on the streets of Compton, how crack was ruining lives all around them

I got the vinyl edition of this, which is a remastered double LP on 180 gram vinyl. It sounds fucking sweet. The D side is a "tribute" side that features some adequate covers by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Snoop Dogg, Mack 10, and others, but seems more about having some bigger names on the record than making substantial contributions to the album. The record speaks for itself.


Anonymous said...

this album is the first album I bought when I was 14!
at that time I just discovered hip hop and I felt in love. It destroyed everything I could hear from radio and TV. my passion with rap music began to slow down right after dr. dre's "the chronic".I remember it very well. the next album I bought was snoop doggy dogg, then every new group I discovered sounded like this, no more scratches, very sloooow, but without the genius of "the chronic".
hopefully in 1994 I heard a punk song and it changed my life.
I don't know any new rap band, but I still can listen to these records from 20 or 15 years ago.
NWA, public enemy, eric b & rakim, geto boys, cypress hill, run dmc... aaahh, poetry...

FredCore said...

This was another record that added to my high school years. Being from a very rural area listening to rap in the late 80's was about the same as listening to punk or hardcore. This record is straight ahead with the lyrics, and I've heard the same sexism in early punk and hardcore.