In the late Eighties, the angst and tension that was building in Compton, was the forerunner of the violence spurred on by the Rodney King incident. The LAPD found themselves fighting against not only drug dealing gangs, but regular citizens as well. The distrust of the people toward law-enforcement had been brilliantly articulated on wax prior to The Los Angeles Riot’s by a handful of up and coming rap artists. N.W.A.(Niggaz With Attitude) not only opened the eyes of their own neighborhood,they described, and in the process, defined, for the rest of the world, an in your face, ball-busting reality that was more pulp than fiction.
N.W.A. came screaming out of Compton, with a version of Hip-Hop that resonated as loudly as “The Message” by Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five. Their message reflected the everyday reality of helicopters patrolling neighborhoods, and friends dying far too young…due to gang violence. The lyrics were often hard to digest. Brilliant storytelling, was often overshadowed by words that were equally misogynistic and disturbing. However, the one thing that can never be denied…Is the music. The bass beat your ass, and brain, so hard, that you thought a Mike Tyson punch couldn’t be much worse. Screaming guitars, combined with ahead its time production(Dr.Dre&Ice Cube), created music that didn’t ask to be heard or cared about=It demanded it!!!!
I remember questioning whether or not N.W.A. would be relevant to Hip-Hop history. Over twenty-years later, as a middle-aged man, my answer is YES! They told a story that was as uncomfortable, as it was true. The talent in the group, let alone, any of those that it directly influenced, is at least, comparable to=??? Dr.Dre, Ice Cube, Eazy-E, M.C. Ren, DJ-Yella, The D.O.C., Warren G., Nate Dog, Snoop Dog, DJ Qwik, Bone,Thugs&Harmony, and last, but certainly not least, Tupac Shakur. Even Biggie Smalls, a supposed “rival” of Tupac, recorded a song, longing about “Going Back To Cali.”
There are many critics who felt/feel that N.W.A. was a detriment to the integrity of Hip-Hop. Despite any of their flaws=I would argue the opposite point of view. They were as poetic, and prophetic, as any of the PATHETIC, modern-day attempts to advance the greatness of one of musics gifted treasures=HIP-HOP
- N.W.A. Biopic “Straight Outta Compton” Finds Its Director In F. Gary Gray (allhiphop.com)
- Ice Cube reflects on how the LA riots changed rap (thegrio.com)
- Hip Hop’s Father: What Rodney King Taught Us (clutchmagonline.com)
- Rodney King, John Singleton on ‘Uprising: Hip-hop and the L.A. Riots’ (latimesblogs.latimes.com)
- 30 Breakbeats In 30 Days: Day 5 – The Winstons “Amen Brother” (1969) (thehiltonburnellfiles.wordpress.com)
- Kurupt, Too Short Discuss Uprising: Hip Hop & The L.A. Riots Documentary (hiphopwired.com)