Wednesday, January 24, 2007

N.W.A - Straight Outta Compton

Decade - 1980's

N.W.A - Straight Outta Compton - 1988

Let me first say - the closest I've ever gotten to gangsta rap before is learning Salt n' Peppa songs off by heart in the 90's and Robbie Williams' Rudebox! I tend to hate anything remotely related to RnB and the mainstream rap I've heard on the radio does nothing for me. The closest I've ever gotten to Compton is watching Bring it On!

Gangsta rap is a whole other ballgame. I couldn't listen to this album and seperate the music from the greater implications of its subject matter - gang life, poverty, ghettos, violence and sex. One can't help but wonder whether this hardcore rap is a simple mirror and reflection of a terrible reality us middle class white kids know nothing about, or whether these "artists" are happy to glorify the violence so that they can turn into multi-millionaires. Are they simply "telling it like it is", or do they LIKE and thrive on how it is? Does gangsta rap glorify or reveal? Does it perpetuate the violence, or does it simply give voice to some angry young men? Is there something morally questionable about these men becoming insanely rich off a culture that has transformed entire surburbs into places no outsider would dare venture into at night?

I don't really have all the answers, or whether there ARE any answers.

N.W.A (Niggaz with Attitude) as I've found out through the ever-helpful wikipedia, was a hip-hop group formed in Compton, California in the 80's. Members were the well known Ice Cube, Eazy-E (now deceased), Dr. Dre and DJ Yella. Straight Outta Compton was their second album and was famous for the controversial track "Fuck tha Police".

Musically, I wouldn't say I enjoyed all of it - but I certainly didn't hate it. The first four tracks definately keep your attention, especially Gangsta Gangsta, which was fairly tongue-in-cheek and had me smirking. Fuck Tha Police is just an angry rant - but I could not quite figure out whether the irony was intended.

The appeal of the album is it's attitude, which tends to hit you over the head repeatedly until you admit they really are a bunch of tough motherf*ckers. I tended to zone out whenever Eazy-E began rapping - it sounded like one of their little brother's suddenly took control of the mic and refused to let go.

It's not something I could listen to all the time, regardless of the "issues" surrounding it. Three songs is about enough before the pounding of the beat and words makes me want to lie down and take a nap....or put on Enya.

Score - 6/10

Best Tracks - Straight Outta Compton, Gangsta Gangsta, I aint Tha 1, Express Yourself

Genre - Hip-Hop/Rap, Gangsta Rap

Recommended? - Only if you can listen to the word fuck over and over without having a hernia


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