Straight Outta Compton – N.W.A. (1988)

straight-outta-compton

***1/2

More in vogue than any point since the late ’80s, N.W.A.’s infamous debut (and really only) LP of so-called “real rap” set the world (and the occasional police car) on fire with its back-to-back delivery of “Straight Outta Compton” and “Fuck tha Police,” two of the most controversial and important Hip-Hop records ever made. But as a first-time listener of the album coming in with fresh and objective ears, I find that there’s a surprising amount of filler on what is made out to be a legendary album. A third of the LP is taken up with solo tracks from each of the supergroup’s members (dissension among the ranks already?) with mixed results. “Something like That,” “Compton’s N the House,” “I Ain’t tha 1,” and “Something 2 Dance 2,” while not necessarily blights on the album, certainly do little to convince newcomers that N.W.A. were the type of group that could go for more than a few songs without running out of ideas. They provide a sense of a “let’s just get in the booth and lay something down” attitude, exhibiting a spontaneity that, while appealing, is not necessarily conducive to making a classic LP filled with depth from top to bottom. Even so, “Dopeman’s” alternate take on the perils of drug dealing offers some laughs and “Gangsta Gangsta” threatens to steal the show from even “Fuck tha Police,” finding the group at its most gangful as they gleefully rape, pillage, and offend the painfully conservative sect of Reagan-era white America over the top of Dr. Dre’s almost Prince-like dance beat.

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