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Straight Outta Compton
Studio album by N.W.A
Released August 8, 1988
Recorded 1988
Audio Achievements
(Torrance, California)
Genre Hip hop
Length 60:27
Label Ruthless/Priority/EMI Records
0499 2 57112 2 6
Producer DJ Yella, Dr. Dre, Eazy-E (also exec.)
N.W.A chronology
N.W.A. and the Posse
Straight Outta Compton
100 Miles and Runnin'
Singles from Straight Outta Compton
  1. "Straight Outta Compton"
    Released: 1988
  2. "Gangsta Gangsta"
    Released: 1988
  3. "Express Yourself"
    Released: 1989

Straight Outta Compton is the debut studio album by American hip hop group N.W.A, released August 8, 1988 on group member Eazy-E's record label Ruthless Records. Its title refers to the group's native Compton, California. Production for the album was handled by Dr. Dre, with DJ Yella giving co-production. The album has been viewed as the pioneering record of gangsta rap; with its ever-present profanity and violent lyrics, it helped to give birth to this then-new sub-genre of hip hop. It has been considered groundbreaking by music writers and has had an enormous impact on the evolution of West Coast hip hop.[1]

Straight Outta Compton redefined the direction of hip hop,[2] which resulted in lyricism concerning the gangsta lifestyle becoming the driving force in sales figures. It also helped to shift the power to the West Coast from the East Coast,[3] which had enjoyed a period of prominence in hip hop for most of the 1980s. It was later re-released on September 24, 2002, which was remastered and contained four bonus tracks. An extended version of the album was released on December 4, 2007, the 20th anniversary of the original album.[4]



The album reached double platinum sales status, becoming the first album to reach platinum status with no airplay support and without any major tours.[1][5]

As the hip hop community worldwide received the album with a high note, the members of N.W.A became the top stars for the emerging new era of gangsta rap while popularizing the lyrics of Ice Cube. The album also helped to spawn many young MCs and gangsta hip hop groups from areas such as Compton, California, and South Central Los Angeles, as many thought they had the same story to tell and the ability to pursue the career track that N.W.A had taken,[6] hence groups such as Compton's Most Wanted coming into being.[7]

Because of the recurring violent and sexual lyrics and profanity, often specifically directed at governmental organizations such as the LAPD, N.W.A always enjoyed a particular repudiation from U.S. Senators and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). This situation persisted over the years with the group's visible head, Eazy-E. One of the reasons for this was "Fuck tha police," the highly controversial track from the album that resulted in the FBI and the U.S. Secret Service sending a letter to Ruthless Records informing the label of their displeasure with the song's message, and N.W.A was banned from performing at several venues.[8][5] The FBI letter only helped popularizing the album and N.W.A's further success, and in the group's 1990 song "100 Miles and Runnin', the follow up to Straight Outta Compton, while the music video shows the crew running from the police, Dr. Dre raps "and now the FBI is all over my dick!" as a responce to the FBI's warnings.



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The lyrics on the album were mainly written by Ice Cube.[9][1] Critics of the album expressed their view that the record glamorized Black-on-Black crime, but the emcees stated that the group was simply showing the reality of living in the areas of Compton, California, and South Central Los Angeles.[6] Allmusic's Steve Huey states that the lyrics are all about "raising hell" and also noted the album for its humor, which he says has been lost in modern lyricism.[1]

Many critics feel that the albums' lyrics glamorize gang violence. The Washington Post writer David Mills wrote: "The hard-core [sic] street rappers defend their violent lyrics as a reflection of 'reality.' But for all the gunshots they mix into their music, rappers rarely try to dramatize that reality — a young man flat on the ground, a knot of lead in his chest, pleading as death slowly takes him in. It's easier for them to imagine themselves pulling the trigger". However, Wichita Eagle-Beacon editor Bud Norman noted that "They [N.W.A] don't make it sound like much fun... They describe it with the same nonjudgmental resignation that a Kansan might use about a tornado."[10]


The production on the album was generally seen as top-quality for that point in time,[9] with Dr. Dre's production performing well with his instrumentals and drum machine beats, and DJ Yella's turntable scratches and overall co-production seen as proficient by hip hop critics. Some critics find it somewhat sparse and low-budget given the significance of the album and compared with other producers of the time such as Marley Marl.[1]


The album's most controversial track, "Fuck tha Police," was partly responsible for the fame of N.W.A as the world's most dangerous group, and it did not appear on the censored version of the album.[11] The song "Gangsta Gangsta" talks about the danger and violence in South Central and Compton. "Express Yourself" speaks of the ideas of free expression and the constraints placed on emceess by radio censorship. Every N.W.A member except DJ Yella recorded a solo song. Dr. Dre, who mostly produced more than performed, did a solo effort in the single "Express Yourself." Ice Cube performed on "I Ain't tha 1" and "A Bitch Iz a Bitch". MC Ren made his solo performance in the songs "If It Ain't Ruff" and "Quiet on tha Set". Eazy-E's only solo recording was a remix of the song "8 Ball," which appeared on N.W.A's previous album N.W.A and the Posse. The only guests on the album were Ruthless Records ghostwriter the D.O.C., who appeared on "Parental Discretion Iz Advised," rhyming the intro, and founding N.W.A member Arabian Prince, who contributed minor vocals on "Something 2 Dance 2."

Seven tracks from the album were released on N.W.A's Greatest Hits: "Gangsta Gangsta," "Fuck tha Police," "Straight Outta Compton (extended mix)," "If It Ain't Ruff," "I Ain't tha 1," "Express Yourself," and a bonus track from the remastered version, "A Bitch Iz a Bitch".


Commercial performance

 Professional ratings
Source Rating
Allmusic 5/5 stars[6]
Blender 5/5 stars[12]
Chicago Tribune 3.5/4 stars[13]
Robert Christgau (B)[14]
Los Angeles Times (favorable)[15]
Pitchfork Media (9.7/10)[16]
PopMatters (favorable)[17]
Rolling Stone 5/5 stars[2]
Sputnikmusic 4/5 stars[9]
Yahoo! Music (favorable)[18]

The album first appeared on music charts in 1989, peaking on the U.S. Billboard 200 at number thirty-seven, and peaking on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums at number nine.[19] It re-entered the charts in 2003, peaking on the UK Albums Top 75 at number thirty-five, and on the Ireland Albums Top 75 at number twenty.[20]

The album has sold over three million copies[8][21] and was certified double Platinum on March 27, 1992.[22] It was N.W.A's best selling album, as their debut, N.W.A and the Posse, was certified Gold.[23] Their final album, Niggaz4Life, was certified platinum.[24] According to Priority Records' calculations, 80% of sales were in the suburbs, beyond the boundaries of black neighborhoods.[25]

Critical response

Upon its release, the album was generally well received by most music critics. Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune gave Straight Outta Compton three and a half out of four stars and praised its production.[13] The Richmond Times-Dispatch's Mark Holmberg described the album as "a preacher-provoking, mother-maddening, reality-stinks diatribe that wallows in gangs, doping, drive-by shootings, brutal sexism, cop slamming and racism".[10] Newsweek noted that Straight Outta Compton "introduced some of the most grotesquely exciting music ever made", and added that "Hinting at gang roots, and selling themselves on those hints, they project a gangster mystique that pays no attention where criminality begins and marketing lets off".[10] Following its 2002 re-release, Jon Caramanica of Rolling Stone magazine cited Straight Outta Compton as one of hip-hop's most crucial albums, calling it a "bombastic, cacophonous car ride through Los Angeles' burnt-out and ignored hoods."[26]


In 2003, the TV network, VH1, named Straight Outta Compton the 62nd greatest album of all time. It was ranked ten in Spin magazine's "100 Greatest Albums, 1985-2005". In 1998, the album was selected as one of The Source's 100 Best Rap Albums. It is the group's only album on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (ranked #144), and the first hip-hop album ever to get a 5-star rating from them in their initial review, and when comedian Chris Rock wrote an article for the magazine about the 25 Greatest Hip-Hop Albums of all time in 2005, Straight Outta Compton was number one on his list.[27] The album was also ranked the 130th best album of all time by[28] In 2006, the album was listed in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[29] The same year, TIME Magazine ranked it as one of the 100 greatest albums of all time.[30] Q magazine voted it one of the 'Top 50 Titles Of 1989. Alternative Press (7/95, p.88) ranked it #45 in AP's list of the 'Top 99 Of '85-'95'. Vibe (12/99, p.164) included it in Vibe's 100 Essential Albums of the 20th Century.

Track listing

All songs were produced by Dr. Dre and DJ Yella.

# Title Writer(s) Performer(s) Length
1. "Straight Outta Compton"   Ice Cube, The D.O.C., MC Ren Ice Cube, MC Ren, Eazy-E 4:19
2. "Fuck tha Police"   MC Ren, Ice Cube, Eazy-E Ice Cube, MC Ren, Eazy-E 5:45
3. "Gangsta Gangsta"   Ice Cube, MC Ren Ice Cube, Eazy-E 5:36
4. "If It Ain't Ruff"   MC Ren MC Ren 3:34
5. "Parental Discretion Iz Advised"   Ice Cube, MC Ren, The D.O.C. The D.O.C., Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, Ice Cube, MC Ren 5:16
6. "8 Ball" (remix) Ice Cube, Eazy-E Eazy-E 4:52
7. "Something Like That"   The D.O.C., MC Ren Dr. Dre, MC Ren 3:35
8. "Express Yourself"   Ice Cube Dr. Dre 4:25
9. "Compton's in the House" (remix) The D.O.C., Mc Ren Dr. Dre, MC Ren, Eazy-E 5:20
10. "I Ain't tha 1"   Ice Cube Ice Cube 4:54
11. "Dopeman" (remix) Ice Cube, Eazy-E Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Eazy-E 5:20
12. "Quiet on tha Set"   MC Ren MC Ren 3:59
13. "Something 2 Dance 2"   Arabian Prince, Ice Cube, The D.O.C. Arabian Prince, DJ Yella, Dr. Dre, Eazy-E 3:32

Sample credits


  • Artwork: Helane Freeman
  • Engineer: Donovan Sound
  • Executive Producer: Eric Wright (Eazy-E)
  • Mastered by: Big Bass Brian
  • Photography: Eric Poppleton
  • Producers: Dr. Dre, DJ Yella

Chart history

Charts[19][20] Peak
US Billboard 200 37
Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums 9
Ireland Albums Top 75 20
UK Albums Top 75 35

Sample use

Sampling of songs from Straight Outta Compton.


  1. ^ a b c d e Steve Huey. Straight Outta Compton Review. Billboard. Accessed September 28, 2007.
  2. ^ a b Caramanica, Jon. Review: Straight Outta Compton. Rolling Stone. Retrieved on 2009-07-22.
  3. ^ Essential guide to Urban. BBC. Accessed September 30, 2007.
  4. ^ Omar Burgess (October 10, 2007). HHDX News Bits: N.W.A And Eazy-E. HipHopDX. Accessed October 10, 2007.
  5. ^ a b Stephen Thomas Erlewine. N.W.A Biography. Allmusic. Accessed October 4, 2007
  6. ^ a b c Huey, Steve. Review: Straight Outta Compton. Allmusic. Retrieved on 2009-07-22.
  7. ^ Compton's Most Wanted. Accessed September 30, 2007.
  8. ^ a b Eazy-E Timeline. Accessed October 4, 2007
  9. ^ a b c Butler, Nick. Review: Straight Outta Compton. Sputnikmusic. Retrieved on 2009-07-22.
  10. ^ a b c Ed. Michael L. LaBlanc. (December 4, 2006). "N.W.A." Contemporary Musicians. eNotes. Accessed October 10, 2007
  11. ^ Straight Outta Compton Clean Version. Artistdirect. Accessed October 22, 2007.
  12. ^ Mao, Chairman. Review: Straight Outta Compton. Blender. Retrieved on 2009-07-22.
  13. ^ a b Kot, Greg. "Review: Straight Outta Compton". Chicago Tribune: 13.A. July 13, 1989. (Transcription of original review at talk page)
  14. ^ Christgau, Robert. Consumber Guide: Straight Outta Compton. The Village Voice. Retrieved on 2009-07-22.
  15. ^ Hilburn, Robert. Review: Straight Outta Compton. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved on 2009-07-22.
  16. ^ Linhardt, Alex. Review: Straight Outta Compton. Pitchfork Media. Retrieved on 2009-07-22.
  17. ^ Fowler, Shan. Review: Straight Outta Compton. PopMatters. Retrieved on 2009-07-22.
  18. ^ Duff, S.L. Review: Straight Outta Compton. Yahoo! Music. Retrieved on 2009-07-22.
  19. ^ a b N.W.A - Discography, Charts and Awards. Allmusic. Accessed October 9, 2007.
  20. ^ a b N.W.A - Straight Outta Compton Chart Positions. aCharts. Accessed October 9, 2007.
  21. ^ Straight Outta Compton article. Los Angeles Times. Accessed October 4, 2007
  22. ^ RIAA Searchable database - Straight Outta Compton. RIAA. Accessed October 10, 2007.
  23. ^ RIAA Searchable database - N.W.A and the Posse. RIAA. Accessed October 10, 2007.
  24. ^ RIAA Searchable database - Efil4Zaggin. RIAA. Accessed October 10, 2007.
  25. ^ LA Times NWA:Straight Outta Compton pt. Los Angeles Times. Accessed July 25, 2008
  26. ^ Rolling Stone magazine. Straight Outta Compton album review. Rolling Stone. Accessed July 25, 2008
  27. ^ Chris Rock. Chris Rock's Top 25 Hip Hop Albums. RateYourMusic. Accessed October 6, 2007
  28. ^ Acclaimed Music website. AcclaimedMusic. Accessed October 6, 2007.
  29. ^ 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die Rocklistmusic. Accessed October 25, 2007
  30. ^ The All-TIME 100 Albums TIME. Accessed January 4, 2008


External links

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