NWA – Straight Outta Compton at 25.

On the 8th of the 8th 1988 NWA released Straight Outta Compton.

I can recall clearly a mate buying the US import just after it was released for like £11 or so (a lot of money for an LP back then). The first three tracks rendered 3 of us listening to it into dumbstruck silence. The album does then fall quite spectacularly flat and is saved by the less explosive Express Yourself and the Dopeman remix. Not knocking it at all but the album definitely has fillers. It could have been the best rap album of all-time but on reflection certainly isn’t. What the album did was raise the bar. There’s no boundaries and I can recall watching Reservoir Dogs on day of release at the Triangle Cinema in Birmingham thinking this is kinda like NWA – a game changer, but not perfect. Melody Maker interviewed NWA shortly after the album dropped and started causing waves via word of mouth. The interviewer asked ‘your like the hip-hop Sex Pistols’ and the reply has always stuck with me. NWA said ‘who are they’ – in ways that was the perfect answer, cementing the fact that this was a record the group just had to make. Seeing the band live just after Ice Cube left it became apparent Eazy-E had serious problems. He hardly rapped and could hardly walk, he just gave out T-Shirts and looked lost. Dr.Dre was clearly the main remaining talent in the group. Their 2nd album is a masterclass in production (especially for the time) but unfortunately also a masterclass in misogyny.



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