N.W.A.’s legacy shall not be forgotten in the world of Hip Hop or music. They broke barriers for many Hip Hop artists and they innovated the genre. The group included Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, MC Ren, DJ Yella, Eazy-E and D.O.C. Six young men who had stories to tell. They served as Street Reporters, as their raps were documentaries for the public to know what was going on in the streets of Compton.

N.W.A. emerged in the late 80’s and from that point on they shook up the rules in Hip Hop. Their hardcore lyrics were embraced by many fans but caused tons of backlash from the public. They struck fear in those who were conservative and even caught the attention of the F.B.I.

Eazy-E was a former drug dealer before becoming a member of the group. He started Ruthless Records with the money that he made from drug dealing. After being persuaded by his friend Dr. Dre to invest in music the two went on to formulate what many consider the “world’s most dangerous rap group.” The group called themselves N.W.A, which stood for “N****s With Attitude. Dr. Dre was a part of a group called the “World Class Wreckin ‘Cru” before creating NWA. Ice Cube was a local rapper with extreme skill and he became a member and key writer for the group.  DJ Yella, and D.O.C. were also added to the group. MC Ren came after N.W.A. released their first album N.W.A and The Posse in 1987. MC Ren went on to fit in very well with the group with his harsh but real lyrics and together they took the music industry by storm.

N.W.A. was blunt and didn’t sugarcoat anything that was happening in their lives or in the lives of the people that lived in their community. They rapped about police brutality, gang violence, drugs and women. In 1988, their album Straight Outta Compton was released. It was a hit with no help from radio, press or MTV. One particular record on the album called, “F** The Police” instantly alerted America about how the police were treating black men on the regular. Ironically a lot of what they talked about in the record is still happening today. The title of the song is self-explanatory and made a lot of people relate in thought.

Many things changed for the super group in 1989 after the departure of Ice Cube. Cube left the group after financial disagreements between him and the group’s then manager, Jerry Heller. An ugly feud quickly sparked between Cube and N.W.A. following Cube’s exit. Ice Cube would later release a diss record titled “No Vaseline,” which was featured on his 1991 album, Death Certificate.

With Cube gone from the group, N.W.A. was now dominated by Eazy-E’s leadership, MC Ren’s lyrics and Dre’s impeccable production skills. Each member was important to the group, but it was not the same with one of the original members gone. The group then released an EP 100 Miles and Runnin’ in 1990. According to Allmusic.com, it increased the group’s suburban audience.

More change came in 1992 when Dr. Dre decided to leave the group for the same reason Cube did. He left N.W.A. to form Death Row with Suge Knight. Suge Knight made several threats to Eazy and Jerry if they did not let Dre out of his contract. This contract situation led to violence and Eazy and Dre started releasing diss records about each other.

Ren released a solo project, and Yella was steadily working on his own projects. However, Eazy and Dr. Dre was receiving most of the hype in large part to their beef. Eazy made a diss record against Dr. Dre titled “Real Muthaf*****G’s, while Dr. Dre dissed Eazy on a song titled “Dre Day.” Eazy made up to 50 cent off each copy sold because of Dre’s contractual obligation to Eazy’s Ruthless Records. Things really got ugly when Eazy appeared on the Arsenio Hall Show only to clown Dre by saying, “Dre Day is only Eazy’s payday.” In other words, Eazy profited off the records Dre dissed him on.

Dre released the classic album, The Chronic in 1992. The album was very successful and showcased the talents of a young, Snoop Dogg. It was collaborations with Dr. Dre that helped make Snoop a household name in Hip Hop. 

From the looks of things, it looked like N.W.A was officially over but Eazy was able to revamp Ruthless Records by signing and mentoring Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. After Eazy decided to part ways with manager, Jerry Heller, a NWA reunion was hopeful and likely.

This hope was short-lived when Eazy abruptly died of AIDS complications in 1995. Eazy married just days before his death and was visited at the hospital by some of his group members before he died.

After a fall out with Suge Knight, Dre left Death Row to begin Aftermath. In his new business situation he worked closely with record executive, Jimmy Iovine and he continued to have a successful solo career. Dre went on to sign rap heavy weights, Eminem, The Game and 50 Cent. Cube continued to rap as a solo artist and with the group, West Side Connection but he made a big name for himself in Hollywood. Ice Cube is behind great films like, Friday, Are We There Yet, Ride Along and All About The Benjamins. Yella, Ren, and D.O.C. ventured off into their own projects as well.

No one can deny the stamp that NWA placed on Hip Hop and they should forever be respected as legends. The gangsta rap pioneers will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2016. Straight Outta Compton was nominated for Best Original Screenplay at this year’s 88th, Academy Awards and the writers being honored are all white. The film, however is not being recognized but Ice Cube is not surprised or upset by the Oscar Snub. Jason Mitchell played Eazy E, and many believed that he deserved recognition, as well as the film’s producers, writers and other actors. Cube sat down with Wendy Williams and when asked about the Oscar overlook he had this to say,

“I’m not pissed. You know, I’m not surprised. It’s the Oscars; they do what they do.” Despite the Oscar snub, it was number one in the box office and did $200 million worldwide.”~Ice Cube

Straight Outta Compton was produced by, Will Packard and he had a bit more frustration to share as he took to Facebook to write about his disappointment.

Despite the fact that the Academy Awards refuses to acknowledge the NWA biopic, the fact remains that the group made history and left a longstanding impact on Hip Hop. Their impact is still relevant today, as many artist accredit them for inspiration. Who knew that N.W.A would be so influential? Their courage and commitment to telling their truths, helped the Hip Hop genre reach new peaks and their legacy will forever live on.

What are your thoughts about the NWA Legacy and the biopic being overlooked by the Oscars?

~ Sierra Porter

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