Collection: 3. N.W.A. - Straight Outta Compton

Straight Outta Compton struck the earth like a meteorite, its impact rippling out across rap into pop culture and politics. The album didn’t invent gangsta rap but it brought the gangstas to the pop charts and squarely into the public imagination, where they were quickly stamped with parental advisory stickers—a blatantly racist act that did little to stem their takeover. N.W.A.’s “reality rap,” reported from within the L.A. ghettos, changed the tones, textures, and scope of hip-hop forever; their songs were portraits of the black struggle turned inside out and weaponized. They delivered a premonition of the 1992 Los Angeles uprising, and every black anti-tyranny initiative that would follow. Ice Cube, Eazy-E, and co. were as unflinching as Public Enemy, yet more unapologetic. They were Nancy Reagan’s worst night terror come to life.

A massive debut, Straight Outta Compton is unsparing and defiant, riot rap for the ages. Ice Cube erupted through the speakers as a menace, embracing his role as instigator with punishing verses that threatened to break the status quo and remake it in his image; Eazy-E’s slickness and charisma turned every utterance into hood gospel. In their writers’ room with MC Ren, they made dysfunction a direction, vividly drawing characters who didn’t have time for moralizing because they were too busy just trying to get by. Beneath them, Dr. Dre and DJ Yella laced the throwback funk of Moog synthesizers with turntablism and cracking drum programming, creating beats that felt as colossal as they were groundbreaking. “Fuck tha Police” is an eternal mantra; “Gangsta Gangsta” is a street survivalist epic; the title track is a badge of hometown pride. And as they knew it would, N.W.A.’s fire has outlasted their censors: Three decades later, the same rappers who were once made enemies of the state are now in the Library of Congress. –Sheldon Pearce / Pitchfork.com

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  • N.W.A. - STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON VINYL
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