It is rare to have such a great record that not only defines a genre but also has inspired many musicians after its release. N.W.A’s Straight Outta Compton album is just that. With a huge amount of future stars on this record, such as Ice Cube, Eazy-E and Dr Dre, along with some really excellent tunes, this isn’t just your ordinary Rap album. It is legendary. Recorded and released back in 1988, this is a monumental album. Without any hesitation, let’s take a listen to this album, and hear if it matches its own reputation, many years after its original release.
Straight Outta Compton begins with the quote: “You are now about to witness the strength of street knowledge.” This is quickly followed by the Amen Break sampled Breakbeat (edited, of course, for this song) and then enters into an excellent tune that is an absolute classic to this day. Ice Cube opens this tune with a straightforward Rap that shows the agenda of N.W.A. Ingenious, clever and cool, this is a great tune to listen to. MC Ren follows and delivers a direct and punchy statement, and this is a timeless tune. This is brilliantly well done, and although the production may seem a little dated today, but it is still really great sounding. There is a breakdown in the second half, followed by Eazy-E rapping away very nicely. This is brilliant music, and proof that you don’t need complexity to make a great tune. Excellent tune from start to finish. This deserves your time and listening.
Fuck Tha Police begins with some cool scratching, followed by a Jazzy tune about openly hating the police service in the USA. Not only this is incredibly catchy, but it is a great lyrical statement as well. A great and powerful piece of music about systematic racism in the law and justice system, N.W.A. deliver very well on this tune. An interesting and different tune, there are some brilliant sounds and samples to match, including the sampled James Brown Funky Drummer breakbeat (briefly). This is work of a true bunch of musical professionals, and law and disorder is the catch cry on this record. Regardless of any youthful rebellion on this tune, it hits well. There is an intermission style part where Eazy-E gets arrested, before he Raps about metaphorically being arrested. Of course, not all of this is serious, but it does sound really excellent. A really great tune from start to finish, if you are a fan of Rap music, you must hear this now. The conclusion to the track is hilarious. Great stuff.
Gangsta Gangsta begins with police sirens and a brief skit, before a rather 1980s sounding tune hits you. Soon enough into the tune is the immortal quote from Ice Cube, “You don’t like how I am living? Well, fuck you!” and Ice Cube raps about being youthful, rebellious and what life is really about (in his opinion, anyway). A wonderful tune to hear, although like most Rap music, this is totally unrealistic musically. However, it is hilarious and wonderful listening, even if you never intend to really follow Rap music per se. An excellently enjoyable piece of music and something to play with your friends as a nostalgia of retro music if they like Rap music. A really cool and interesting tune, the emphasis of this tune is more lyrical than musical, but still it works excellently. The second half has a weird intermission piece, before Eazy-E gets his gig on. A really awesome tune all the same, this will make your day, especially if you live in poverty in Capitalist USA. A good tune anyway.
If It Ain’t Ruff begins with some funky Fender Stratocaster sort of sounds, and MC Ren enters fairly quickly. This is another simple, yet extremely effective tune to listen to about life on the streets and other Gangsta Rap style things. Nonetheless, although this is a lesser track, it still retains the energy, enthusiasm and magic of the album. Automatically, this is a classic album of Rap that all musical historians should indulge in. Yes, this is quite repetitive, but it does sound really wonderfully good. A really cool tune that is also about enjoying music, this is a fine effort by N.W.A. and MC Ren on this tune. At the end are some nice sampling and scratching to conclude this really cool tune.
Parental Discretion Iz Advised comes next, and has a counted intro, before launching into a funky, sleazy and wonderful groove that sounds fresh, fun and fantastic. A really genuinely great listen, Dr Dre finally gets his rapping mojo on here vocally, and he sounds very young here., understandably. This combined effort of talent and sounds are really fine, and although Rap music isn’t to everyone’s tastes, this is a very cool and catchy tune. MC Ren also puts in a fine effort and he delivers what he does very well. Ice Cube follows and is just as good as the others on this track. Although these rappers made bigger names for themselves later on in life, this is the beginning of their successes. Eazy-E follows and he sounds lively and excellent at what he raps about, mostly male sexual endeavours. This tune ends with an extended piano jam to the backing track and delayed vocals. Excellent work, and great effort N.W.A. A very underrated track for sure. The instrumentation here then concludes in a Jazzy way, before “Shut the fuck up!” is screamed and the track concludes. Nice.
8 Ball – Remix begins with pounding breakbeats, along with some rather dated instrumentation. Some additional samples are thrown into the mix, before Eazy-E gets rapping about more drugs and misadventures around in Los Angeles, California. This song may be about cocaine use (potentially), and driving through the neighbourhood of Compton. A really cool tune, and this might sound dated and cheesy musically, but it makes up for it with some brilliant samples and lyrical ingeniousness along the way. This is a really 1980s sounding recording, but still sounds great today in its own way. This has a fairly simple conclusion, with the main samples and scratching being used to full effect in the outro. Decent tune.
Something Like That is next, and has some talk between Dr Dre and MC Ren, before the instrumentation enters. It’s a great listen, once again, and both these rappers sound on top form. A very wonderful and enjoyable listen, and Dr Dre sounds cool, calm and confident, in particular. MC Ren sounds like he is on fine form too, and this recording in general is mindblowing. A really wonderful tune to hear, and the beats and rhymes match each other perfectly. A short and decent tune, although obviously not the best from this album. The outro is a bit lengthy.
Express Yourself is one of the most popular tunes from this album. It has a short and cool lyrical introduction, before the backing track kicks in. Immediately, once the main backing track and rapping enters, we have an instant classic in our ears. A really cool and awesome tune for any Rap music fan to enjoy, this is a throwback to the 1960s/1970s Funk classics that were such a large part of African-American culture in the then segregated USA. A really golden classic to listen to, with some wise words (ironically) for a Rap crew. In any case, this should be in your playlist or on repeat at some point in your life. A wonderful life affirming tune, this is super awesome. An excellent tune.
Compton’s N The House – Remix begins with a vocal sample of N.W.A. getting down to business, followed by some straightforward beats and samples. This is a very minimal tune that doesn’t have anything musically special about it, but the message is fairly clear. In any case, it’s good but sounds more like a battle Rap contest than anything else. A real weird scenario, but it sounds okay for what it is. Sadly, this particular tune isn’t that impressive as a piece of music, it is way too plain to be considered a standout track. In any case, N.W.A. do Rap extremely well with the different members taking turns at spitting out the best rhymes in 1988. Nonetheless, it’s okay, just a bit disappointing. A good piece to Rap along to, if that is what you do in your spare time. Otherwise, a very plain tune that isn’t very special. You’ll be somewhat glad when this tune is over. It fades out after over five minutes of rather boring music.
I Ain’t Tha 1 begins with some piano instrumentation and other sampled sounds, before launching into a piece which is a great yet hugely sexist piece of music. This isn’t a piece of music that would go down well today commercially, surely there would be chaos if that were the case. However, this is fairly entertaining and is about women who only value money in a relationship. Sure, there are often problems in both sides of a relationship, but this reeks of male selfishness. Anyway, an entertaining listen and Ice Cube is on fine form here about his love life. There are some brief samples of girls talking about only valueing a man for his money. A very good tune, and a solid warning about potential gold diggers out there to other men. Interesting and different. Again, this is more lyrical and direct than about different types of melodic instrumentation as a piece of music. The conclusion is quite humourous.
Dopeman – Remix begins with some cut up beats, before launching into a cool piece of music that is about drug use and the problems and misadventures involved with drug dealing. In any case, this is a good and interesting tune which also addresses hard drug addiction. A great and simple tune that is a direct warning about temptations of that sort, this points out the growing recreational drug use that is a large problem in western society. In the middle is a slight change in the instrumental backing track, before Ice Cube returns in his inimitable fashion. An interesting tune that pounds nicely along, this is the dark side of recreational drug use delights. Towards the end is a mock Indian voiceover sample which is hilarious, and it is intended to be. Anyway, a good tune.
Quiet On Tha Set begins with the Funky drummer break and launches into an excellent tune that is catchy, fun and grooving. This is a cool and fun listen that oozes confidence and strength that many other musicians, even other rappers, lack. A really chilled tune about being in the limelight. There are some nicely cut up beats and textures that sound wonderfully awesome. A really interesting piece of music, although more so lyrically than musically. A really cool and fun piece of music to hear, this sounds intriguingly wonderful. Another okay listen, although the album is running out of steam by this point.
Something 2 Dance 2 is a track that Dr Dre nearly didn’t add to this album. You can kind of hear why. It doesn’t quite fit the rest of the album, and is very Poppy, not really a piece of music that fits the Gangsta Rap agenda of N.W.A. Still, this is a good tune, although it is hugely dated today. Enjoyable, yet trashy, it is entertaining but throwaway. A funky and beat heavy tune, there are some nicely cut up samples here in the second half. Quirky, clever and fun, this is a good tune all the same. A nice finish to a great Rap album.
This is a definite classic album, one which both defined and transcended its era. It just sounds powerful without roaring guitars or other similar methods of ways to impress an audience. Sure, this sounds fairly dated but despite that, many people still love this album to this day. If you are a fan of Gangsta Rap or any of the personnel mentioned on this review, do seek this out. There is also a good documentary film about N.W.A. as well, also called Straight Outta Compton, which is worth watching. N.W.A. eventually separated in the end and this is the only album that they made. Still, this is an awesome listen. Dr Dre, the rapper and producer of this album, hates it, however.