"Straight Outta Compton" and The Gang Called N*ggaz With Attitudes

Universal Pictures

Y'all gon' have to excuse me for a second because I'm about to go full fanboy.

NWA is my favorite rap group of all time. I love Outkast. I love Mobb Deep. I respect the hell out of Run-DMC. But NWA? That's how you do group. I've written about how I discovered a lot of early hip-hop via my older sister and NWA was no different. While I'd tangentially heard of NWA from my friends in elementary school (Straight Outta Compton came out when I was 9) I'm sure I was way too into baseball cards, kickball, being awkward, and tripping over my oversized feet to be into anybody rap about "fuck the police". And what, at age 9 we're in 4th grade?

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Which explains it. Fourth grade was the year I went through my white rock 'n roll phase. And by rock 'n roll, I mean hair metal phase. We're talking Skid Row and Motley Crue. Heavy. And of course, Guns 'N Roses. I was a geek like shit, but I was also a musically-invested-and-interested one. But I do know that one day, I stumbled upon my sister's NWA EFIL4ZAGGIN tape. This album came out in 1991, which means I was 12 and in middle school. I wasn't angsty or anything, but I knew amazing music when I heard it. I also knew how ridiculous it was. I'd never heard more murder, rape, ignorance, and just outright why does this exist?-ness on one album. To this day, I contend it may be THE most obnoxious album ever created. It was almost a parody unto itself, which lends itself directly to the departure of the social voice of the group, Ice Cube. Cube was as ridiculous as the rest, but there was a consciousness with him that at least made the only three songs anybody really remembers from Straight Outta Compton resonate.

EFIL4ZAGGIN had no conscience or consciousness. None. The closest is the song "Niggaz 4 Life" the title track on the album where they lazily attempt to explain why they (and by proxy, we) refer to ourselves as niggas. But even that doesn't count on an album with songs like, "She Swallowed It", "Findem, Fuckem, and Flee", "One Less Bitch" and the sing-songy, "Automobile". Honestly, if I didn't know any better, I'd think Los Angeles was one big rape scene at all times. In cars. Despite the sheer redonkulousness of this album, it has one element that is indisputable: it's the album where Dr. Dre became Dr. Dre. Sure he was a good producer, but that album took Straight Outta Compton, Eazy Duz It, and 100 Miles And Runnin' and put them on acid. It's like he made a conscious decision to make beats that were undeniable. It was as good production wise as The Chronic or Doggystyle. It had as many samples as a De La Soul album, but it was mixed better, the drums hit harder, and it just sounded better. Lyrically, it was both terrible and great. I think the only reason nobody ever really talks about EFIL4ZAGGIN when speaking of Dre's greatest triumphs is how non-sensical it was lyrically.

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But I was caught hook, line, and sinker by that album. It inadvertently turned me into a West Coast rap fanatic. Something that lasted for nearly a decade. Living in the south made that a bit easier as well. Dr. Dre is still my favorite producer. And Ice Cube from 1988-1992 was one of the greatest rappers of all time, if not the best. His string of albums from AmeriKKKaz Most Wanted to Death Certificate to The Predator are clinics in solid production and top shelf lyricism. AmeriKKKaz and Death Certificate are classic albums for a reason. Then Ice Cube died and was reborn as the nigga who made terrible family movies. But he'll always be good in my book. I still listen to those albums and am amazed both by how angry he was and how good he was at explaining it. For a few years, Ice Cube was truly the scariest Black man in America because he was angry and sounded smart enough to know exactly why he should be and was given a platform to explain it.

Also, this: "comin' straight outta Compton, crazy motherfucker named Ice Cube, from the gang called Niggaz Wit Attitudes…" is one of the best opening lines in hip hop history of all time of ever.

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MC Ren is the most underrated rapper of all time. Of. All. Time. I own his albums and think "Same Ole Shit" is one of the best songs nobody ever talks about.

I don't have much to say about MC Yella. He was the DJ and co-produced some records but sadly he tends to get lost in the shuffle of the bigger than life personalities of the other guys.

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Eazy E is easily one of the most recognizable voices and figures in hip-hop history. From the Ruthless Records days, to the beef with Dre and Suge, to bringing us Bone Thugz-N-Harmony, to dying from AIDS. I loved hearing Eazy rap. I loved hearing Eazy be short. I love Eazy's verse on "Foe Tha Love of $", which to this day is one of my favorite songs ever.

NWA spawned many chillun and subgroups and I was and am here for them all. They even have one of the greatest group names in recorded history.

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Point is, I love NWA. So you KNOW I was about to be all in on a movie. I followed all of the stories behind the casting and have watched every little teaser.

Then it happened…the official trailer dropped.

FUCK THA POLICE. FUCK THA POLICE.

I've never been more hype for a movie than I am for "Straight Outta Compton". Knowing the story of Ruthless Records and Eazy E, and NWA, is a drama unto itself. It was just waiting to be put on a screen. Add to the fact how iconic three of five members of one group were and are, and how the legs of their creations ended up killing both Tupac and Biggie. But, I can't lie, despite my hypeness, I've always been a bit concerned because you want a movie about your favorite rap group to get is full justice. F. Gary Gray is directing so that helps, but I just didn't want to be, ya know, disappointed.

I suppose its still possible but this trailer that dropped? Yeah, all in. This ain't no Aaliyah biopic. I'm excited because it looks like it will be good. It looks like the people making it cared about it as much as I cared about it being made. The principals are involved (mostly because save for Eazy, they're alive) and invested.

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And I couldn't be happier.

I just used over 1100 words to tell you that a) I love NWA b) the trailer dropped and c) the movie comes out August 14th.

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You're welcome.

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About the author

Panama Jackson

Panama Jackson is the Senior Editor of Very Smart Brothas. He's pretty fly for a light guy. You can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking all her brown liquors.