Straight Outta Compton
“I heard what HE said, but what the FUCK did YOU say?” That was a question that Ice Cube asked while on the “Family Values” tour in 1998 (with Korn, Orgy, Limp Bizkit and more). You know what? I may have peed a little in my pants when he barked that at the show I was at, cuz this guy wasn’t no poser. Guys like Cube were the reason AK47’s became the norm on the streets, cuz you wasn’t beatin’ him with your fists, you weren’t gonna beat him with a shotgun, so you NEEDED an automatic weapon to take him down. Cube’s rhymes, raps, whatever you want to call ‘em, his WORDS, were like weapons of mass destruction and you WEREN’T gonna beat him on his turf.
The release of “Straight Outta Compton: The Soundtrack” shows what CHEMISTRY really is, then AND now. Ice Cube’s words, Dre’s beats, Eazy’s style and N.W.A. were unstoppable. This disc gives you both, group and solo material from the main players. While the solo stuff works the strength of that particular artist, there was nothing as hardcore greatness as all of them together. In writing my reviews I get a little caught up in my love for the music and tend to go on and on ad nauseum. Reviewing the soundtrack release is NO different. UME/UMG has released the soundtrack to 2015’s hit autobiographical film about N.W.A. out this week on both VINYL and DISC (and of course download UGH!).
N.W.A., WERE hardcore EVERYTHING…the anger, the emotion, the grooves, the danger, the middle finger to society. They were as much hard rock (with hip-hop beats) as anything else back in the 80’s and with one release they amp’d up the rap revolution. I consider them as important to rap as Nirvana was to grunge. Doubt me? Look at 1988 and point out someone that not only hit on all cylinders, but made the impact with ONE release as N.W.A. Public Enemy? Yeah they were hard but they looked to take on the world all at once; they were building a nation. Ice-T? Yeah he started the gangsta rap thing, but he was a street hustler in comparison to the cartel that was N.W.A. The self named, “Niggaz Wit Attitude” were gonna take over the world…one city block at a time.
This release if chock full ‘o hit’s from N.W.A., Eazy-E, Ice Cube and even a Dr. Dre tune…not to mention Parliament, Funkadelic, Steve Arrington’s Hall of Fame and Roy Ayers Ubiquity. No matter how long ago these tracks were laid, they are still sadly VERY relevant TODAY. This ain’t like reviewing a “new” release, but it sure as hell ain’t like reviewing a “re-issue” either. The times they are a changin’, yet still stayin’ the same. These N.W.A. tunes stand the test of time:
• “Straight Outta Compton”- introducing you to those lovable kids “From the gang called Niggaz With Attitudes” Starting with a crazy motherfucker named Ice Cube; “Straight outta Compton, another crazy ass nigga” with name MC “R-E-N spells Ren but I’m raw/See, cuz I’m the motherfuckin’ villain”; A “Dangerous motherfucker raised in Hell” Eazy (E) is his name and the boy is comin…; DJ Yella who’s spinnin’ behind all the rap and guy you MAY have heard of named Doctor Dre or sumthin’ like that. You know you’re frontin’ if you claim you don’t know Dre, even the lily whitest of us know Dre and probably listening to tunes through his BEATS while reading this.
• “Gangsta Gangsta”- from the original “SoC” release and for you gamer kids, “Grand Theft Auto V”. This tune was N.W.A.’s warning of the street life in Compton with a wink and a nod that the thug-life ‘wantant’ all bad. This was their glorifying what they were dealt…you think they care? Allow Cube to answer…”Cause I’m tha type o’ nigga that’s built ta last/ If ya fuck wit me I’ll put a foot in ya ass/ See I don’t give a fuck cause I keep bailin’/ Yo, what the fuck are they yellin’?/ Gangsta, Gangsta! That’s what they’re yelling!/It’s not about a salary, it’s all about reality/ Gangsta, Gangsta! That’s what they’re yelling/ Hopin you sophisticated motherfuckers hear what I have to say!” Role models? You best believe it.
• “Fuck Tha Police”- You want angry? This song would have to get happier just to be angry. This is the years of being a punching bag and whippin’ boy for the LAPD. As much as the N.W.A. posse didn’t want to be stereotyped “Fuck the police coming straight from the underground/A young nigga got it bad cause I’m brown/And not the other color so police think/they have the authority to kill a minority/Fuck that shit, cause I ain’t the one/for a punk motherfucker with a badge and a gun” they stereotyped a nation of Police Officers. Granted in some of the urban neighborhoods this wasn’t just some cliché, this was the real life, but in suburbia somewhere most police would be doing what they were supposed to be doing, “to protect and to serve”. Sadly, this song in 2016 rings as loud as it did in 1988 and that “urban jungle” is right outside YOUR front door in your mostly white ‘disturbia’.
• “Express Yourself”- brings Dr. Dre to the front of house to lay some rhyme with the help of Ice Cube and MC Ren. Then this was new, now it’s still the same, “free expression” and the constraints placed on artist by radio censorship. As rap sometime does, this song disses the rappers who cleaned up their lyrics to get radio play, while N.W.A. stays true to their art. All set to the familiar sample of “Express Yourself” by Charles Wright & the Watts 103 Street Rhythm Band’s 1973 hit of the same name.
The insertion of Parliament’s “Flash Light”, Funkadelic’s “(Not Just) Knee Deep and Roy Ayers Ubiquity, “Everybody Loves the Sunshine” not only give you some laid back tunes and a feel from which N.W.A. and others drew their rhythmic inspirations as well. Not to mention, “sampled” them in the songs you’re hearing. Steve Arrington’s Hall of Fame, “Weak at the Knees” while not a recognizable to the average music fan; is familiar to the N.W.A. fan as it was sampled in “Gangsta Gangsta”. It’s nice to see and hear these songs stand on their own.
Now let’s get to the fun part in the history of N.W.A. Ice Cube split from the band after the “SoC” all too short tour. Ice released “AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted” without so much of a backhanded rhyme at his former brothers in arms. THAT would be his mistake because N.W.A. & Eazy-E would release, “Real Niggaz” thinkin’ they were bein’ sly slammin’ Ice Cube for walking out the N.W.A. Each taking their own shot at Ice Cube on this track, Eazy, Dre, Yella, Ren spittin’ rhymes at Cube for being a traitor who if he got smoked would be at their hands; not to mention a traitor that was guilty of “making wack jams”.
The counter punch, uh, I mean the follow up track, is Ice Cube comin’ right at the NWA and with “NO VASELINE.” Fairly explanatory on how HE was gonna take care of his “homies”. He’s actually GLEEFUL that N.W.A. took the first shots at him because Cube wasn’t about to hold back. There are definite innuendos questioning the “other team’s” sexuality, their gangsta persona, their originality, and how they were gettin’ played by one of their own and a “case of divide and conquer/Cuz you let a Jew break up my crew”. Bad blood? Maybe, more like they ALL felt betrayed with the madness they weren’t ready for. If the movie and the music showed us one thing it’s, street life is easy compared to the BUSINESS of music.
The disc closes with Dr.Dre at his finest, with Snoop and “Nuthin’ but a G Thang”. And in finishing out this review in their words; at the end of the day, “It’s like that and like this and like that and uh.” Yup, that about sums it up!