Friday, December 03, 2010

NWA Fridays: Straight Outta Compton

It's Friday... which means we're back with a new installment of NWA Fridays. Last week, I discussed the impact of Express Yourself, the first ever NWA video to appear on MTV. This week, we have the song that started it all... Straight Out of Compton... a video so incendiary that the execs at MTV were scared to play it.


"You are now about to witness the strength of street knowledge," said Dr. Dre for the preamble to Straight Out of Compton, the opening track on their debut album (on Ruthless Records label) of the same title.

Dre's intro set up the premise -- that we had no clue what really went on in the hood. NWA mission was to spread the truth about their daily plight, especially run-ins with the police who were not shy about their rough house tactics. In March of 1991, when a shocking videotape of Rodney King getting his ass whooped by LAPD made the rounds in the mainstream media, most of America was horrified about what was going on in LA. However, if anyone had been listening to NWA's lyrics, they already knew what was up as far back as 1988, when Dre, Ice Cube, MC Ren, and Eazy E laid out the straight dope in Straight Outta Compton.

The opening track is not only an awakening of the stone cold truth of life in Compton, but we also get introduced to the key members of the group in a trio of powerful rap solos as each take a verse: Ice Cube, MC Ren, and Eazy-E.

From the opening verse, we get a taste of the overpowering presence of Ice Cube from the sheer anger and immediacy in his voice.

"Crazy muthafucker named Ice Cube, from a gang named Niggaz with Attitude...When I'm called off, I got a sawed off... Squeeze the trigger, and bodies are hauled off... You too, boy, if ya fuck with me."

In the video, we get our first glimpse of the menacing Ice Cube -- dressed in all black sporting an black hat with "LA Kings" written in silver script. The logos on the hat would later be blurred out due to copyright infringement, but initial conspiracy theories floated around that suggested the powerful entities at the NHL and NFL did not want their established brands and merchandise be associated with police-hating revolutionaries who glorified gang violence in their lyrics.

The video's back story includes the members of the group getting arrested, then escaping, but eventually getting caught again before they are hauled off by the police.

In your random NWA trivia... British TV director Rupert Wainright (zero relation to Rufus) directed the video for Straight Outta Compton. Slightly odd, but inspiring that a Brit was working closely with the boys in the hood.

1 comment:

Kid Dynamite said...

the only mystery is the silly name "ice cube"...