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Straight Outta Compton

Straight Outta Compton is the second album by Compton-based hip hop group N.W.A, originally released in 1988 through group member Eazy-E's label, Ruthless Records. The production came mainly from Dr. Dre with DJ Yella giving co-production. The album is generally seen as the pioneering record of gangsta rap, with its ever-present profanity and violent lyrics, it helped to emerge the new sub-genre of hip hop. The album was a hip hop groundbreaker that went on to have an enormous impact on the evolution of gangsta rap.

Straight Outta Compton redefined the direction of hip hop, which resulted in lyricism concerning the "gangsta lifestyle" becoming the driving force with sales figures. It also helped to shift the power to the West Coast from the East Coast, which had enjoyed a period of prominence in hip hop for most of the 1980s. It was later re-released on September 24, 2002 as a remastered edition with four bonus tracks. An extended version of the album was released on December 4, 2007, the 20th anniversary of the original album.

History

The album reached double platinum sales status, becoming the first album to reach platinum status with no airplay support and without any major tours.

As the hip hop community worldwide received the album with a high note, the members of N.W.A became the top stars for the emerging new era of gangsta rap while popularizing the rap of Ice Cube. The album also helped to spawn many young MC's and gangsta rap groups from areas such as Compton, California and South Central Los Angeles, as many thought they had the same story to tell and the ability to pursue the career track that N.W.A had taken, hence groups such as Compton's Most Wanted coming into fusion.

Because of the recurring violent and sexual lyrics and profanity, often specifically directed at governmental organizations such as the LAPD, N.W.A always enjoyed a particular repudiation from U.S. Senators and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). This situation persisted over the years with the group's visible head, Eazy-E. One of the reasons for this was the highly controversial track from the album, "Fuck tha Police", which resulted in the FBI and the U.S. Secret Service sending a letter to Ruthless Records informing the label of their displeasure with the song's message, and N.W.A were banned from performing at several venues.

Music

Songs

The album's most controversial track, "Fuck tha Police", was partly responsible for the fame of N.W.A as the "World's Most Dangerous Group", and it did not appear in the album's censored version. The song "Gangsta Gangsta" talks about the danger and violence in South Central and Compton. "Express Yourself" speaks of the ideas of free expression and the constraints placed on rappers by radio censorship. Every N.W.A member except DJ Yella recorded a solo song. Dr. Dre, who mostly produced more than performed, did a solo effort in the single "Express Yourself". Ice Cube performed on "I Ain't tha 1" and "A Bitch Iz a Bitch". MC Ren made his solo performance in the songs "If It Ain't Ruff" and "Quiet on tha Set". Eazy-E's only solo recording was a remix of the song "8 Ball" which appeared on N.W.A's previous album N.W.A and the Posse. The only guests on the album were Ruthless Records ghostwriter, The D.O.C., who appeared on "Parental Discretion Iz Advised", rapping the intro, and original N.W.A member, Arabian Prince, who contributed minor vocals on "Something 2 Dance 2".

Seven tracks from the album were released on N.W.A's Greatest Hits: "Gangsta Gangsta", "Fuck tha Police", "Straight Outta Compton (extended mix)", "If It Ain't Ruff", "I Ain't tha 1", "Express Yourself" and the bonus track from its remastered version, "A Bitch Iz a Bitch".

Lyrics

The lyrics on the album were mainly written by Ice Cube. Critics of the album expressed their view that the record glamorized Black-on-Black crime, but the rappers stated that they were simply showing the reality of living in the areas of Compton, California and South Central Los Angeles. Allmusic's Steve Huey states that the lyrics are all about "raising hell" and also noted the album for its humor, which he says has been lost in modern lyricism.

Many critics feel that the albums' lyrics glamorize gang violence. The Washington Post writer David Mills wrote: "The hard-core street rappers defend their violent lyrics as a reflection of 'reality.' But for all the gunshots they mix into their music, rappers rarely try to dramatize that reality — a young man flat on the ground, a knot of lead in his chest, pleading as death slowly takes him in. It's easier for them to imagine themselves pulling the trigger". However, Wichita Eagle-Beacon editor Bud Norman noted that "They [N.W.A] don't make it sound like much fun... They describe it with the same nonjudgmental resignation that a Kansan might use about a tornado."

Production

The production on the album was generally seen as top-quality for that point in time, with Dr. Dre's production performing well with his instrumentals and drum machine beats, and DJ Yella's turntable scratches and overall co-production seen as proficient by hip hop critics. But some other critics thought it was also little sparse for the sheer significance of the album and how the low budget doesn't show up well compared to modern production.

Critical reception

The album was generally well received by critics. Richmond Times-Dispatch's Mark Holmberg described the album as "a preacher-provoking, mother-maddening, reality-stinks diatribe that wallows in gangs, doping, drive-by shootings, brutal sexism, cop slamming and racism". Newsweek noted that Straight Outta Compton "introduced some of the most grotesquely exciting music ever made". A Newsweek reviewer added, "Hinting at gang roots, and selling themselves on those hints, they project a gangster mystique that pays no attention where criminality begins and marketing lets off". Following its 2002 re-release, Jon Caramanica of Rolling Stone magazine cited Straight Outta Compton as one of hip-hop's most crucial albums, calling it a "bombastic, cacophonous car ride through Los Angeles' burnt-out and ignored hoods.

Accolades

In 2003, the TV network, VH1, named Straight Outta Compton the 62nd greatest album of all time. It was ranked ten in Spin magazine's "100 Greatest Albums, 1985-2005". In 1998, the album was selected as one of The Source magazine's 100 Best Rap Albums. It is the group's only album on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (ranked #144), and when comedian Chris Rock wrote an article for the magazine about the 25 Greatest Hip-Hop Albums of all time in 2005, Straight Outta Compton was number one on his list. The album was also ranked the 130th best album of all time by Acclaimedmusic.net. In 2006, the album was listed in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. The same year, TIME Magazine ranked it as one of the 100 greatest albums of all time. Q magazine voted it one of the 'Top 50 Titles Of 1989. Alternative Press (7/95, p.88) ranked it #45 in AP's list of the 'Top 99 Of '85-'95'. Vibe (12/99, p.164) included it in Vibe's 100 Essential Albums of the 20th Century.

Sales and certifications

The album has sold over three million copies and was certified double Platinum on March 27, 1992. It was N.W.A's best selling album, as their debut, N.W.A and the Posse, was certified Gold. Their final album, Niggaz4Life, was certified platinum. According to Priority Records' calculations, 80% of sales were in the suburbs, beyond the boundaries of black neighborhoods.

The album first appeared on music charts in 1989, peaking on the U.S. Billboard 200 at number thirty-seven, and peaking on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums at number nine. It re-entered the charts in 2003, peaking on the UK Albums Top 75 at number thirty-five, and on the Ireland Albums Top 75 at number twenty.

Track listing

# Title Time Performer(s) Songwriters Producer(s) Samples
1 "Straight Outta Compton" 4:19 Ice Cube
MC Ren
Eazy-E
Eric Wright
O'Shea Jackson
Lorenzo Patterson
Dr. Dre
DJ Yella

  • Contains samples from "You'll Like It Too" by Funkadelic
  • Contains samples from "West Coast Poplock" by Ronnie Hudson and the Street People
  • Contains samples from "Get Me Back on Time, Engine No. 9" by Wilson Pickett
  • Contains samples from "Amen, Brother" by The Winstons

2 "Fuck tha Police" 5:45 Dr. Dre (spoken word, not rap)
Ice Cube
MC Ren
Eazy-E
O'Shea Jackson
Lorenzo Patterson
Eric Wright
Dr. Dre
Yella

3 "Gangsta Gangsta" 5:36 Ice Cube
MC Ren
Eazy-E
Eric Wright
O'Shea Jackson
Lorenzo Patterson
Dr. Dre
Yella

4 "If It Ain't Ruff" 3:34 MC Ren Lorenzo Patterson Dr. Dre
Yella

  • Contains samples from "A Star in the Ghetto" by Average White Band
  • Contains samples from "Quiet on tha Set" by N.W.A
  • Contains samples from "Straight Outta Compton" by N.W.A
  • The riff heard throughout the song is similar to that of Roy Ayers' song, "Boogie Back"
  • Contains samples from "Ruthless Villain" by Eazy-E

5 "Parental Discretion Iz Advised" 5:16 The D.O.C.
Dr. Dre
Eazy-E
Ice Cube
MC Ren
Eric Wright
O'Shea Jackson
Lorenzo Patterson
Tracy Curry
Dr. Dre
Yella

6 "8 Ball (Remix)" 4:52 Eazy-E Eric Wright Dr. Dre
Yella

7 "Something Like That" 3:35 Dr. Dre
MC Ren
Andre Young
Lorenzo Patterson
Dr. Dre
Yella

8 "Express Yourself" 4:25 Dr. Dre O'Shea Jackson Dr. Dre
Yella

9 "Compton's in the House [Remix]" 5:20 Dr. Dre
MC Ren
Eazy-E
O'Shea Jackson
Andre Young
Eric Wright
Dr. Dre
Yella

  • Contains samples from "Something Like That" by N.W.A

10 "I Ain't tha 1" 4:54 Ice Cube O'Shea Jackson Dr. Dre
Yella

11 "Dopeman (Remix)" 5:20 Ice Cube
Dr. Dre
Eazy-E
O'Shea Jackson
Eric Wright
Dr. Dre
Yella

  • Contains samples from "Dance to the Drummer's Beat" by Herman Kelly & Life
  • Contains samples from "Funky Worm" by Ohio Players

12 "Quiet on tha Set" 3:59 MC Ren Lorenzo Patterson Dr. Dre
Yella

  • Contains samples from "Funky Drummer" by James Brown
  • Contains samples from "I Get Lifted" by George McCrae
  • Contains samples from "Rock Creek Park" by The Blackbyrds
  • Contains samples from "Take the Money and Run" by Steve Miller Band
  • Contains samples from "Straight Outta Compton" by N.W.A

13 "Something 2 Dance 2" 3:32 Arabian Prince
DJ Yella
Dr. Dre
Eazy-E
Mik Lezan
Eric Wright
Andre Young
Dr. Dre
Yella

* "Express Yourself (extended mix)" 4:42 Dr. Dre
Ice Cube
MC Ren
O'Shea Jackson
Lorenzo Patterson
Dr. Dre
Yella

  • Contains samples from "Express Yourself" by Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band
  • Contains samples from "Dopeman" by N.W.A

* Bonus Beats 3:03
* "Straight Outta Compton (extended mix)" 4:53 MC Ren
Eazy E
Ice Cube
Eric Wright
O'Shea Jackson
Lorenzo Patterson
Dr. Dre
Yella

  • Contains samples from "You'll Like It Too" by Funkadelic
  • Contains samples from "West Coast Poplock" by Ronnie Hudson and the Street People
  • Contains samples from "Get Me Back on Time, Engine No. 9" by Wilson Pickett
  • Contains samples from "Amen, Brother" by The Winstons

* "A Bitch Iz a Bitch" 3:10 Ice Cube O'Shea Jackson Dr. Dre
Yella

  • Contains samples from "Papa Was Too" by Joe Tex

** "Fuck tha Police (Tribute Remix)" 5:02 Bone Thugs-N-Harmony O'Shea Jackson
Lorenzo Patterson
Dr. Dre
Yella

** "Gangsta Gangsta (Tribute Remix)" 4:39 Snoop Dogg
C-Murder
Calvin Broadus
Corey Miller
Dr. Dre
Yella

** "Dopeman (Tribute Remix)" 4:01 Mack 10 Dedrick Rolison Dr. Dre
Yella

  • Contains samples from "Dance to the Drummer's Beat" by Herman Kelly & Life
  • Contains samples from "Funky Worm" by Ohio Players

** "If It Ain't Ruff (Tribute Remix)" 3:44 WC William Calhoun Dr. Dre
Yella

  • Contains samples from "A Star in the Ghetto" by Average White Band
  • Contains samples from "Quiet on tha Set" by N.W.A
  • Contains samples from "Straight Outta Compton" by N.W.A
  • The riff heard throughout the song is similar to that of Roy Ayers' song, "Boogie Back"
  • Contains samples from "Ruthless Villain" by Eazy-E

** "Compton's n the House (Live)" 2:02 Dr. Dre
MC Ren
Andre Young
Lorenzo Patterson
Dr. Dre
Yella

  • Contains samples from "Something Like That" by N.W.A

  • An asterisk (*) indicates a 2002 reissue bonus track.
  • Double asterisks (**) indicates a 2007 20th Anniversary bonus track.

Personnel

  • Artwork: Helane Freeman
  • Engineer: Donovan Sound
  • Executive Producer: Eric (Eazy-E) Wright
  • Mastered by: Big Bass Brian
  • Photography: Eric Poppleton
  • Producers: Dr. Dre, DJ Yella

Charts

Charts Peak
position
US Billboard 200 37
Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums 9
Ireland Albums Top 75 20
UK Albums Top 75 35

Later Samples

References

External links

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