Straight Outta Compton

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This article is about the N.W.A album. For other uses, see Straight Outta Compton (disambiguation).
Straight Outta Compton
The members of N.W.A look down to the camera and  Eazy-E points a gun to it
Studio album by N.W.A
Released August 8, 1988 (1988-08-08)
Recorded 1987–88
Genre
Length 60:16
Label
Producer
N.W.A chronology
Straight Outta Compton
(1988)
100 Miles and Runnin'
(1990)
Singles from Straight Outta Compton
  1. "Straight Outta Compton"
    Released: July 10, 1988
  2. "Gangsta Gangsta"
    Released: September 5, 1988
  3. "Express Yourself"
    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. The album has been viewed as the pioneering record of gangsta rap with its ever-present profanity and violent lyrics. It has been considered to be one of the greatest and most influential hip-hop records 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.[2] 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.[3] On April 14, 2015, Universal Music Group reissued the album on a Limited Edition red cassette as part of their Respect The Classics series.[4] In 2003, it was ranked number 144 in Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, the fourth highest ranking for a hip-hop album on the list behind Public Enemy's It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, Run-DMC's Raising Hell and The Notorious B.I.G's Ready to Die.

Background[edit]

The album reached triple platinum sales status, reaching platinum status with no airplay support and without any major tours.[1][5]

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.[6]

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.[5][7] The FBI letter only helped further popularize the album and N.W.A, and in the group's 1990 song "100 Miles and Runnin'", 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.[8] 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".[9]

Music[edit]

Lyrics[edit]

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."[10]

Production[edit]

The production on the album was generally seen as top-quality for the time,[11] 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]

Content[edit]

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",[12] and it did not appear on the censored version of the album.[13] 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. MC Ren made his solo performance on two songs; "If It Ain't Ruff" and "Quiet on tha Set". 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". 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".

Six 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" and " Express Yourself "

Reception[edit]

Critical response[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 5/5 stars[1]
Blender 5/5 stars[14]
Chicago Tribune 3.5/4 stars[15]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music 5/5 stars[16]
Los Angeles Times 3.5/5 stars[17]
Pitchfork Media 9.7/10[18]
Q 2/5 stars[19]
Rolling Stone 5/5 stars[20]
Uncut 5/5 stars[21]
The Village Voice B[22]

In a contemporary review for the Chicago Tribune, Greg Kot found N.W.A.'s music "fuller and funkier" than Public Enemy's and their lyrics just as "unforgiving".[15] The Orange County Register noted the explicit language on the album, noting that it made fellow rapper Ice-T "look like a Cub Scout".[23] The review concluded that the album was "curiously uninvolving" and that it "lacks the insight and passion that put the best work by the likes of Boogie Down Productions, Ice-T and Public Enemy so far ahead of the field."[23] 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".[10] 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".[10]

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."[20]

"The lyrics on this record are unrelenting in their unpleasantness," lamented 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."[24] "In the wake of Public Enemy and KRS-One, it is amazing that something this lightweight could cause such a stir," snorted Charlie Dick in a two-star review for Q. "The all-mouth-and-trousers content is backed up by likable drum machine twittering, minimal instrumentation and duffish production. . . . This regressive nonsense will be passed off as social commentary by thrill-seekers all across the free world."[19]

Commercial performance[edit]

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 9.[25] It re-entered the charts in 2003, peaking on the UK Albums Top 75 at number 35, and on the Ireland Albums Top 75 at number 20.[26]

The album has sold over three million copies[7][27] and was certified Triple Platinum on November 11, 2015.[28] It was N.W.A's best selling album, as their debut, N.W.A and the Posse, was certified Gold by the RIAA. Their final album, Niggaz4Life, was certified platinum by the RIAA. According to Priority Records' calculations, 80% of sales were in the suburbs, beyond the boundaries of black neighborhoods.[27] A week before release of the 2015 biopic film Straight Outta Compton, the album re-entered the Billboard 200 at number 173; a couple of weeks later it rose to number 30 due to the popularity of the film, surpassing its original peak position back in 1989 when it peaked at number 37.[29] The album peaked at number 4 following the opening weekend of the movie.[30] On November 11, 2015, the album was certified Triple Platinum by the RIAA for exceeding sales of 3 million copies in the US.[31]

Accolades[edit]

"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."[32]

"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."[33]

In 2003, the TV network VH1, named Straight Outta Compton the 62nd greatest album of all time.[34]

It was ranked ten in Spin magazine's "100 Greatest Albums, 1985–2005".[35]

In 1998, the album was selected as #68 of The Source's 100 Best Rap Albums.[36]

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.[37]

The album is ranked the 112th best of all time by Acclaimedmusic.net.[38]

In 2006, the album was listed in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[39] The same year, Time magazine ranked it as one of the 100 greatest albums of all time.[40]

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.[41] 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."[42]

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";[43] Welsh novelty hip hop group Goldie Lookin Chain for their 2005 album, Straight Outta Newport[44] 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.[45] G-Unit rapper Young Buck titled his debut "Straight Outta Cashville". Straight edge hardcore band Good Clean Fun started their 2001 album Straight Outta Hardcore (with a similar album cover) with the phrase 'You are about to witness the strength of positivity', mimicking the start of Straight Outta Compton.

Track listing[edit]

All songs were produced by Dr. Dre and DJ Yella

No. Title Writer(s) Performer(s) Samples[46][better source needed] Length
1 "Straight Outta Compton"
  • Ice Cube
  • MC Ren
  • Eazy-E
4:18
2 "Fuck tha Police"[47]
  • Ice Cube
  • MC Ren (also for Eazy-E)
5:45
3 "Gangsta Gangsta"
  • Ice Cube (also for Eazy-E)
  • 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"
  • The D.O.C. (also for Dr. Dre and Eazy-E)
  • MC Ren
  • Ice Cube
  • The D.O.C.
  • Dr. Dre
  • MC Ren
  • Ice Cube
  • Eazy-E
5:15
6 "8 Ball (Remix)"
  • Ice Cube
  • Eazy-E
4:52
7 "Something Like That"
  • MC Ren (also for Dr. Dre)
  • MC Ren
  • Dr. Dre
3:35
8 "Express Yourself"
  • Ice Cube
  • Dr. Dre
4:25
9 "Compton's n the House (Remix)"
  • MC Ren (also for Dr. Dre)
  • MC Ren
  • Dr. Dre
  • "Something Like That" by N.W.A
5:20
10 "I Ain't tha 1"
  • Ice Cube
  • Ice Cube
4:54
11 "Dopeman (Remix)"
  • Ice Cube (also for Eazy-E)
  • Ice Cube
  • Eazy-E
5:20
12 "Quiet on tha Set"
  • MC Ren
  • MC Ren
3:59
13 "Something 2 Dance 2"
  • Arabian Prince
  • DJ Yella
  • Dr. Dre
  • Eazy-E
3:23

Personnel[edit]

Appearances[edit]

Chart history[edit]

Chart (1989)[25][26] Peak
position
US Billboard Top LPs 37
US Billboard Top Soul LPs 9
Chart (1991) Peak
position
Australian Albums (ARIA)[48] 51
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[49] 43
Chart (2003)[25][26] Peak
position
Irish Albums Chart 20
UK Albums Chart 35
Chart (2015–16)[29] Peak
position
Australian Albums (ARIA)[50] 8
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[51] 55
French Albums (SNEP)[52] 17
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[53] 36
Irish Albums (IRMA)[54] 7
Norwegian Albums (VG-lista)[55] 38
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[56] 54
UK R&B Albums (OCC)[57] 6
US Billboard 200 4

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[58] Platinum 300,000^
United States (RIAA)[59] 3× Platinum 3,000,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Huey, Steve. "Straight Outta Compton – N.W.A". AllMusic. Retrieved September 1, 2012. 
  2. ^ Chang, Jeff (2005-01-02). Can't Stop, Won't Stop : A History of the Hip-Hop Generation. Macmillan Publishers. pp. 327–328. ISBN 9780312301439. Retrieved 1 April 2015. 
  3. ^ Omar Burgess (October 10, 2007). HHDX News Bits: NWA And Eazy-E. HipHopDX. Retrieved October 10, 2007.
  4. ^ "UNIVERSAL ANNOUNCES MORE N.W.A. RE-RELEASES, 'STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON' CASSETTE TAPE, FRIDAY 20TH ANNIVERSARY VINYL". gotham-news.com. Gotham News. Retrieved 2015-05-02. 
  5. ^ a b Stephen Thomas Erlewine. N.W.A Biography. Allmusic. Accessed October 4, 2007
  6. ^ Compton's Most Wanted. MP3.com. Retrieved September 30, 2007.
  7. ^ a b Eazy-E Timeline. Eazy-E.com. Accessed October 4, 2007
  8. ^ "NWA - 100 Miles And Running Lyrics". MetroLyrics. Retrieved 1 April 2015. 
  9. ^ "Ice Cube - AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted Lyrics". MetroLyrics. Retrieved 1 April 2015. 
  10. ^ a b c Ed. Michael L. LaBlanc. (December 4, 2006). "N.W.A." Contemporary Musicians. eNotes. Retrieved October 10, 2007
  11. ^ Butler, Nick. Review: Straight Outta Compton. Sputnikmusic. Retrieved on July 22, 2009.
  12. ^ McDermott, Terry (April 14, 2002). "NWA:Straight Outta Compton pt". Los Angeles Times. Reprinted at Hip Hop News. Retrieved August 15, 2015.
  13. ^ "Straight Outta Compton Clean Version". Artist Direct. Retrieved August 15, 2015.
  14. ^ Chairman Mao. "N.W.A: Straight Outta Compton/Efil4Zaggin". Blender. New York. Archived from the original on April 19, 2010. Retrieved August 19, 2015. 
  15. ^ a b Kot, Greg (July 13, 1989). "N.W.A.: Straight Outta Compton (Ruthless/Priority)". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved May 6, 2016. 
  16. ^ Larkin, Colin (2011). Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th ed.). Omnibus Press. p. 1643. ISBN 0857125958. 
  17. ^ Hunt, Dennis (March 19, 1989). "N.W.A. 'Straight Outta Compton.' Priority/Ruthless". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 6, 2016. 
  18. ^ Linhardt, Alex (October 2, 2003). "N.W.A: Straight Outta Compton / Efil4zaggin". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved July 22, 2009. 
  19. ^ a b Dick, Charlie (November 1989). "N.W.A: Straight Outta Compton". Q. London (38). 
  20. ^ a b Caramanica, Jon (October 17, 2002). "Straight Outta Compton : N.W.A.". Rolling Stone. New York (907). Archived from the original on November 6, 2007. Retrieved July 22, 2009. 
  21. ^ "N.W.A: Straight Outta Compton". Uncut. London (66): 141. November 2002. 
  22. ^ Christgau, Robert (April 25, 1989). "Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. New York. Retrieved May 6, 2016. 
  23. ^ a b Darling, Cary (March 3, 1989). "Fine Young Cannibals dish out an underdone album". Orange County Register. 
  24. ^ Hi-Fi News & Record Review, December 1989
  25. ^ a b c N.W.A – Discography, Charts and Awards. Allmusic. Accessed October 9, 2007.
  26. ^ a b c N.W.A – Straight Outta Compton Chart Positions. aCharts. Accessed October 9, 2007.
  27. ^ a b Straight Outta Compton article. Los Angeles Times. Accessed October 4, 2007
  28. ^ RIAA Searchable database – Straight Outta Compton. RIAA. Retrieved October 10, 2007.
  29. ^ a b HipHopDX (August 17, 2015). "Hip Hop Album Sales: Dr. Dre, Kendrick Lamar & N.W.A". HipHopDX. 
  30. ^ "Luke Bryan's 'Kill the Lights' Spends Second Week at No. 1 on Billboard 200". Billboard. 
  31. ^ "Gold & Platinum". RIAA. 
  32. ^ Rolling Stone, 15 November 1990
  33. ^ Hip Hop Connection, July 1994
  34. ^ "VH1 List of 100 Best Rock Albums". dailycelebrations.com. Retrieved 2016-02-16. 
  35. ^ "Spin 20th Anniversary Special, July 2005". rocklistmusic.co.uk. 2005-07-01. Retrieved 2016-02-16. 
  36. ^ "The Source's Top 100 Rap Albums of All Time". rateyourmusic.com. Retrieved 2016-02-16. 
  37. ^ Chris Rock. Chris Rock's Top 25 Hip Hop Albums. RateYourMusic. Accessed October 6, 2007
  38. ^ Acclaimed Music website. Acclaimed Music. Accessed October 6, 2007.
  39. ^ 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die Rocklistmusic. Retrieved October 25, 2007
  40. ^ The All-TIME 100 Albums TIME. Accessed January 4, 2008
  41. ^ Staff (June 14, 2004). The 25 Best Album Covers. DigitalArts. Retrieved on September 27, 2010.
  42. ^ "The 100 Best Albums of the 1980s - Feature - Slant Magazine". Slant Magazine. Retrieved August 14, 2015. 
  43. ^ "Straight Outta Computers". PaperBackSwap.com. Retrieved August 14, 2015. 
  44. ^ "Goldie Lookin' Chain". Pitchfork. Retrieved August 14, 2015. 
  45. ^ "'22 Jump Street': 10 pop-culture references you might have missed". Entertainment Weekly's EW.com. Retrieved August 14, 2015. 
  46. ^ "N.W.A. - WhoSampled". WhoSampled. Retrieved 11 August 2015. 
  47. ^ On the album, the obscenity is covered.
  48. ^ Ryan, Gavin (September 5, 2015). "ARIA Albums: The Weeknd Takes Top Spot On Australian Chart". Noise11. Retrieved September 5, 2015. 
  49. ^ "Charts.org.nz – N.W.A – Straight Outta Compton". Hung Medien. Retrieved September 10, 2015.
  50. ^ Ryan, Gavin (September 12, 2015). "ARIA Albums: Troye Sivan 'Wild' EP Debuts At No 1". Noise11. Retrieved September 12, 2015. 
  51. ^ "Austriancharts.at – N.W.A – Straight Outta Compton" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved September 10, 2015.
  52. ^ "Lescharts.com – N.W.A – Straight Outta Compton". Hung Medien. Retrieved September 21, 2015.
  53. ^ "Longplay-Chartverfolgung at Musicline" (in German). Musicline.de. Phononet GmbH. Retrieved September 10, 2015.
  54. ^ "GFK Chart-Track Albums: Week 37, 2015". Chart-Track. IRMA. Retrieved September 11, 2015.
  55. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – N.W.A – Straight Outta Compton". Hung Medien. Retrieved September 15, 2015.
  56. ^ "Swisscharts.com – N.W.A – Straight Outta Compton". Hung Medien. Retrieved September 9, 2015.
  57. ^ "Official R&B Albums Chart Top 40". Official Charts Company. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
  58. ^ "British album certifications – N.W.A – Straight Outta Compton". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter Straight Outta Compton in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Select Platinum in the field By Award. Click Search
  59. ^ "American album certifications – N.W.A – Straight Outta Compton". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH
Bibliography

External links[edit]