Artists   >   N   >  N.W.A.
N.W.A.

N.W.A.

Fact Sheet

Musical genre:Rap/Hip Hop  
City  Compton, California, USA
Years active1986-
N.W.A (Niggaz With Attitude) was a hip hop group that was formed in Compton, California in 1986. They continually redefined, over the course of 5 years, the face of West Coast hip hop in both lyrical and instrumental ways. N.W.A was one of the first gangsta rap groups to achieve commercial success.

Their second album, Straight Outta Compton, marked the beginning of the new gangsta rap era as the production and lyrics were revolutionary with respect to the previous early 80's releases of the genre. Many of the band members have gone onto successful solo careers, most notably famed producer and rapper Dr. Dre.

Beginning

Drug-dealer Eazy-E began Ruthless Records. Ice Cube had already written a song for him, "Boyz-N-Tha-Hood", and when one of the bands on his label rejected it, Eazy-E decided to rap it himself. He formed the "Niggaz With Attitude" (N.W.A) with Ice Cube as an MC and former World Class Wreckin' Cru members Dr. Dre and DJ Yella as producers as well as Arabian Prince and The D.O.C. for more MCs. Eazy-E released the party album N.W.A. and the Posse on his Ruthless Records. Half of the songs were from N.W.A. After this, for unknown reasons Arabian Prince and The D.O.C. were no longer in N.W.A but both continued to ghostwrite for the group. MC Ren was later added to N.W.A.

"The World's Most Dangerous Group"

N.W.A first released the groundbreaking Straight Outta Compton in 1989. Many consider it a wake-up call to the problems that were going on in the West, particularly in South Central Los Angeles. Most of the songs on Straight Outta Compton were about life in the ghetto. The opening three songs seemed to express the feeling of the people in Compton. "Straight Outta Compton" reflected a rising anger in the city, "Fuck tha Police" talked of police violence, and "Gangsta Gangsta" spoke of gang life.

All five members made significant contributions to the album, especially Ice Cube, since he wrote some of the most memorable lyrics on the album. MC Ren also wrote significant amounts of material for the album, making sure he wasn't just the new guy on the team. Eazy-E, despite having most of his songs written by Ice Cube, provided comical relief with his hysterical raps. To top it all off the dual producers Dr. Dre and Yella provided fresh and funky beats for each song and Dre occasionally rapped on the album.

Some of the lyrics were considered highly dangerous, especially those of "Fuck tha Police," their most notorious song. It resulted in Milt Ahlerich, an assistant director of the FBI, sending a letter to Ruthless Records and its parent company Priority, advising the rappers that the law enforcement took "exception to such action (fucking the police)." The FBI's letter only served to draw more publicity to the group.

They wanted to make albums just for people like them to listen to, though a majority of the sales came from the white suburbs. Fans of all walks and critics alike consider Straight Outta Compton to be one of the greatest albums ever in gangsta rap, opening the door for more acts to come. Straight Outta Compton eventually went double-platinum and Rolling Stone magazine recently placed it 144th on their list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.