As proven many times on this blog, I was never the biggest West Coast hip hop fan.
I didn't care for the profanity. I felt they lacked the lyrics, flavors and vibes I was looking for and got from East Coast hip hop.
NWA were the epitome of gangsta rap, even more so than Ice-T because there is strength in numbers after all. By the time I learned about the supergroup, I knew they were a force to be reckoned with. To give them credit, my fascination with clans, posses, crews and cliques quite possibly started with the West Coast gangsta rappers.
Straight Outta Compton was no album to be seen with or heard playing in the presence of parents for fear of them cutting off the hip hop music pool circulating in the high school hallways.
I believe the Express Yourself 12” single has one of the images that has stuck with me to this day. Working from memory, Express Yourself was the album’s only radio friendly track. NWA & The Posse are seated at what looks like bleachers of a baseball/football field. Among that mob are about half a dozen eventually-will-be-hip-hop-legends. Dr. Dre and DJ Yella were part of California pioneer hip hop group World Class Wrecking Cru. MC Ren was quite the lyricist. Ice Cube was the quintessential angry young man. Eazy-E was a legend in his own time and group.
The breakup of NWA shook me. My stubborn rationale was that the West Coast hip hop supergroup would dominate their market up to today but alas that was not the case. As with most group breakups, I was saddened by the news and tried to make sense of it. I found myself having to claim a set among West Coast MCs that I otherwise would not have thought much more than necessary about.
The post-breakup NWA album was an interesting listen. There were a few elements I picked up after hearing it a few times. With Ice Cube absent, MC Ren must have felt he had to further step up as a lethal lyricist. For whatever reasons, I feel the most impact from Ice Cube’s departure from Dr. Dre. As cathartic as the album is, the production reveals itself for Dre’s anger and hurt over the dissolution of the supergroup. Ironically in some cases, the production quality resembles that of The Bomb Squad whom Ice Cube employed for his 1990 debut and the Kill at Will EP.
By 1992 the split was evident with MC Ren, Ice Cube and Eazy-E
releasing solo records. Dr. Dre would go on to release a classic album of his own that will eventually be written about here.
I was too East Coast to care more than I had to about Eazy-E.
I did care about his unfortunate death. He didn’t have the lyrics or flavor I needed but I knew he was a hip hop legend.
The California crew are potential Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees.