Straight Outta Compton

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This article is about the album by N.W.A. For other uses, see Straight Outta Compton (disambiguation).
Straight Outta Compton
Studio album by N.W.A
Released August 8, 1988
Recorded 1987–88
Genre Gangsta rap
Length 60:27
Label Ruthless, Priority, EMI Records
Producer DJ Yella, Dr. Dre, Eazy-E (also exec.)
N.W.A chronology
N.W.A. and the Posse
Straight Outta Compton
Singles from Straight Outta Compton
  1. "Gangsta Gangsta"
    Released: October 5, 1988
  2. "Express Yourself / Straight Outta Compton"
    Released: March 27, 1989

Straight Outta Compton is the debut studio album by American hip hop group N.W.A, released August 8, 1988 on group member Eazy-E's record label Ruthless Records. Production for the album was handled by Dr. Dre, with DJ Yella giving co-production along with Arabian Prince. The album has been viewed as the pioneering record of gangsta rap with its ever-present profanity and violent lyrics. It has been considered groundbreaking by music writers and has had an enormous impact on the evolution of West Coast hip hop.[1]

Straight Outta Compton redefined the direction of hip hop, which resulted in lyrics concerning the gangster lifestyle becoming the driving force in sales figures[citation needed]. It was later re-released on September 24, 2002, remastered and containing four bonus tracks. An extended version of the album was released on December 4, 2007, honoring the 20th anniversary of the original album.[2]


The album reached double platinum sales status, becoming the first album to reach platinum status with no airplay support and without any major tours.[1][3]

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 lyrics of Ice Cube and MC Ren. The album also helped to spawn many young MCs and gangsta hip hop 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,[1] hence groups such as Compton's Most Wanted coming into being.[4]

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 reputation with U.S. Senators and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), as noted in the LP's published notes. This situation persisted over the years with the group's visible head, Eazy-E. One of the reasons for this was "Fuck tha Police", the highly controversial track from the album that 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 was banned from performing at several venues.[3][5] The FBI letter only helped further popularize the album and N.W.A, and in the group's 1990 song "100 Miles and Runnin', the follow-up to Straight Outta Compton, while the music video shows the crew running from the police, Dr. Dre raps "and now the FBI is all over my dick!" as a response to the FBI's warnings. Also, in his 1990 song "Amerikkka's Most Wanted", Ice Cube mocks the FBI with the line "With a pay-off, cop gotta lay off, FBI on my dick, stay off".[citation needed]



One of N.W.A's most well-known and controversial songs

The lead single and title track. Features aggressive lyricism

The second single from Straight Outta Compton

Problems playing these files? See media help.

The lyrics on the album were mainly written by Ice Cube and MC Ren. Some critics of the album expressed their view that the record glamorized Black-on-Black crime, but others stated that the group was simply showing the reality of living in the areas of Compton, California, and South Central Los Angeles. Steve Huey in a retrospective review for AllMusic feels that the lyrics are more about "raising hell" than social criticism, but also feels the album is "refreshingly uncalculated" due to its humor; something he feels is rare in hardcore rap.[1]

Many critics feel that the album's 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."[6]


The production on the album was generally seen as top-quality for the time,[7] 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. Some critics find it somewhat sparse and low-budget given the significance of the album and compared with other producers of the time such as Marley Marl.[1]


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",[8] and it did not appear on the censored version of the album.[9] 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 performers by radio censorship. Every N.W.A member except DJ Yella recorded a solo song. Dr. Dre, who mostly produced rather than performed, did a solo effort on 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", rhyming the intro, and founding 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 a bonus track from the remastered version, "A Bitch Iz a Bitch".


Commercial performance[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 5/5 stars[1]
Blender 5/5 stars[10]
Chicago Tribune 3.5/4 stars[11]
Robert Christgau B[12]
Los Angeles Times favorable[13]
Pitchfork Media 9.7/10[14]
PopMatters favorable[15]
Rolling Stone 5/5 stars[16]
Sputnikmusic 4.0/5[7]
Yahoo! Music favorable[17]

The album first appeared on music charts in 1989, peaking on the US Billboard Top LPs chart at number 37, and peaking on Billboard '​s Top Soul LPs at number nine.[18] 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.[19]

The album has sold over three million copies[5][20] and was certified double Platinum on March 27, 1992.[21] It was N.W.A's best selling album, as their debut, N.W.A and the Posse, was certified Gold.[22] Their final album, Niggaz4Life, was certified platinum.[23] According to Priority Records' calculations, 80% of sales were in the suburbs, beyond the boundaries of black neighborhoods.[20]

Critical response[edit]

Upon its release, the album was generally well received by most music critics. Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune gave Straight Outta Compton three and a half out of four stars and praised its production.[11] The 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".[6] Newsweek noted that Straight Outta Compton "introduced some of the most grotesquely exciting music ever made", and added that "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".[6] 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."[24]

"The lyrics on this record are unrelenting in their unpleasantness," complained Peter Clarke in Hi-Fi News & Record Review, awarding the album a rock-bottom "D:4" rating. "The cumulative effect is like listening to an endless fight next door. The music on this record is without a hint of dynamics or melody."[25]


"It's definitely the best rap record I've ever heard," remarked Sinéad O'Connor. "Of course, I can see why people might be offended by the lyrics. But as a human being and not as a public figure, I'm not offended at all. I realise from reading interviews with people like Ice Cube, when they explain that they're not talking about women in general but about particular women they know, it makes a lot of sense. I think the sound of the record is brilliant. I really like hardcore hip-hop and reggae stuff, so it's right up my flight of stairs."[26]

"Rappers haven't always referred to themselves as 'niggers' on record," remarked Hip Hop Connection, placing it at No.3 on their countdown of rap's best albums. "It came as something of a shock then that here were five politically astute black men calling themselves niggers and their women bitches at a time when Afrocentric rap was the current vogue… Straight Outta Compton sounded so exciting, insignificant details such as realism and integrity could be overlooked."[27]

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'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 the first hip hop album ever to get a 5-star rating from them in their initial review. 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.[28]

The album is ranked the 109th best of all time by[29]

In 2006, the album was listed in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[30] The same year, Time magazine ranked it as one of the 100 greatest albums of all time.[31]

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. In 2004, DigitaArts included the album's cover in its list of the 25 Best Albums Covers.[32] In 2012, Slant listed the album at #18 on its list of "Best Albums of the 1980s" saying "The juxtaposition of midtempo, Cali-languid grooves and violent wordplay positioned Straight Outta Compton as the sound of the West Coast firing on New York's Fort Sumpter in what would become '90s culture's biggest Uncivil War."[33]

Cultural references[edit]

The album cover and title has been parodied by American cartoonist Bill Holbrook for his Kevin and Kell 2004 collection as "Straight Outta Computers";[34] Welsh novelty hip hop group Goldie Lookin' Chain for their 2005 album, Straight Outta Newport[35] and on "Weird Al" Yankovic's 2006 album, Straight Outta Lynwood, and Australian grindcore band Blood Duster's 1997 album "Str8 Outta Northcote". Punk rock band NOFX released a song titled "Straight Outta Massachusetts" on their Cokie the Clown EP. In the 2014 film 22 Jump Street, Mrs. Dickson states that she's "straight outta Compton" when talking about her and her husband's (played by Ice Cube) backgrounds.[36]

Track listing[edit]

All songs were produced by Dr. Dre and DJ Yella.

No. Title Writer(s) Performer(s) Length
1. "Straight Outta Compton"   Ice Cube, MC Ren Ice Cube, MC Ren, Eazy-E 4:19
2. "Fuck tha Police"   Ice Cube, MC Ren Ice Cube, MC Ren, Eazy-E 5:45
3. "Gangsta Gangsta"   Ice Cube, MC Ren Ice Cube, Eazy-E 5:36
4. "If It Ain't Ruff"   MC Ren MC Ren 3:34
5. "Parental Discretion Iz Advised" (featuring The D.O.C.) Ice Cube, MC Ren, The D.O.C. The D.O.C., Dr. Dre, MC Ren, Ice Cube, Eazy-E 5:16
6. "8 Ball (Remix)"   Ice Cube Eazy-E 4:52
7. "Something Like That"   MC Ren MC Ren, Dr. Dre 3:35
8. "Express Yourself"   Ice Cube Dr. Dre, Ice Cube 4:25
9. "Compton's n the House (Remix)"   MC Ren MC Ren, Dr. Dre 5:20
10. "I Ain't tha 1"   Ice Cube Ice Cube 4:54
11. "Dopeman (Remix)"   Ice Cube, Krazy D Ice Cube, Eazy-E, Krazy D 5:20
12. "Quiet on tha Set"   MC Ren MC Ren 3:59
13. "Something 2 Dance 2"   Arabian Prince, Ice Cube, The D.O.C. Arabian Prince, DJ Yella, Dr. Dre, Eazy-E 3:22

Sample credits[edit]

Sample informations taken from whosampled



Chart history[edit]

Charts[18][19] Peak
US Billboard Top LPs 37
US Billboard Top Soul LPs 9
Irish Albums Chart 20
UK Albums Chart 35

Sample use[edit]

Sampling of songs from Straight Outta Compton.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Steve Huey. "Straight Outta Compton - N.W.A : AllMusic". Retrieved September 1, 2012. 
  2. ^ Omar Burgess (October 10, 2007). HHDX News Bits: N.W.A And Eazy-E. HipHopDX. Retrieved October 10, 2007.
  3. ^ a b Stephen Thomas Erlewine. N.W.A Biography. Allmusic. Accessed October 4, 2007
  4. ^ Compton's Most Wanted. Retrieved September 30, 2007.
  5. ^ a b Eazy-E Timeline. Accessed October 4, 2007
  6. ^ a b c Ed. Michael L. LaBlanc. (December 4, 2006). "N.W.A." Contemporary Musicians. eNotes. Retrieved October 10, 2007
  7. ^ a b Butler, Nick. Review: Straight Outta Compton. Sputnikmusic. Retrieved on July 22, 2009.
  8. ^ LA Times NWA:Straight Outta Compton pt. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 25, 2008
  9. ^ Straight Outta Compton Clean Version. Artistdirect. Retrieved October 22, 2007.
  10. ^ Mao, Chairman. Review: Straight Outta Compton. Blender. Retrieved on July 22, 2009.
  11. ^ a b Kot, Greg. "Review: Straight Outta Compton". Chicago Tribune: 13.A. July 13, 1989. (Transcription of original review at talk page)
  12. ^ Christgau, Robert. Consumber Guide: Straight Outta Compton. The Village Voice. Retrieved on July 22, 2009.
  13. ^ Hilburn, Robert. Review: Straight Outta Compton. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved on July 22, 2009.
  14. ^ Linhardt, Alex. Review: Straight Outta Compton. Pitchfork Media. Retrieved on July 22, 2009.
  15. ^ Fowler, Shan. Review: Straight Outta Compton. PopMatters. Retrieved on July 22, 2009.
  16. ^ Caramanica, Jon. Review: Straight Outta Compton. Rolling Stone. Retrieved on July 22, 2009.
  17. ^ Duff, S.L. Review: Straight Outta Compton. Yahoo! Music. Retrieved on July 22, 2009.
  18. ^ a b N.W.A – Discography, Charts and Awards. Allmusic. Accessed October 9, 2007.
  19. ^ a b N.W.A – Straight Outta Compton Chart Positions. aCharts. Accessed October 9, 2007.
  20. ^ a b Straight Outta Compton article. Los Angeles Times. Accessed October 4, 2007
  21. ^ RIAA Searchable database – Straight Outta Compton. RIAA. Retrieved October 10, 2007.
  22. ^ RIAA Searchable database – N.W.A and the Posse. RIAA. Retrieved October 10, 2007.
  23. ^ RIAA Searchable database – Efil4Zaggin. RIAA. Retrieved October 10, 2007.
  24. ^ Rolling Stone magazine. Straight[dead link] Outta Compton album review. Rolling Stone. Retrieved July 25, 2008
  25. ^ Hi-Fi News & Record Review, December 1989
  26. ^ Rolling Stone, 15 November 1990
  27. ^ Hip Hop Connection, July 1994
  28. ^ Chris Rock. Chris Rock's Top 25 Hip Hop Albums. RateYourMusic. Accessed October 6, 2007
  29. ^ Acclaimed Music website. AcclaimedMusic. Accessed October 6, 2007.
  30. ^ 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die Rocklistmusic. Retrieved October 25, 2007
  31. ^ The All-TIME 100 Albums TIME. Accessed January 4, 2008
  32. ^ Staff (June 14, 2004). The 25 Best Album Covers. DigitalArts. Retrieved on September 27, 2010.
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^
  36. ^

External links[edit]