What does it take to make history? To do something that you’ll be remembered for decades to come? Apparently, a drug dealer, a semi-successful lyricist, a half-decent (at the time) DJ and another semi-successful lyricist with another half-decent DJ. If it’s not obvious by now, we’re talking about the infamous N.W.A (Niggaz Wit Attitudes)
From the corner streets of New York came Hip-hop. A party music that needed nothing but a turntable and someone who’s good with words. It started in the east, and came all the way to the west, where it got royally beaten-up by a collective of previously unknown, uncared about bunch of artists who called themselves N.W.A.
There were many artists that considered to be THE authority when it comes to hip-hop, from Run-DMC to Public Enemy, artists who shaped what we call now hip-hop/rap music, However, it was N.W.A. that took it to the street, gave it a harsh reconstructing and spit it out for the world to see. The group consisted of Dr Dre in DJ duties, accompanied later by DJ Yella, lyricists Ice Cube, with MC Ren and Eazy-E on the mic. N.W.A. represented a 180 degree turn from what was happening back then. There was hip-hop, but more of a soft-er version of what N.W.A. came up with. The landscape changed from talking about clothes and how many girls they got laid with, to violence, guns, drugs, street war, racism, etc. You name it, if it is controversial and you’ll find a N.W.A. track about it.
Now how did a group of people that had every chance to flop succeeded in changing music history? Well, it most likely started with ONE track, no more no less, the notorious “F**k Tha Police”. Back then, for someone to talk that much ‘trash’ about a Law Enforcement Agency is basically asking for it, big time. They just ignored every single warning they had from their at-the-time manager Jerry Heller and went along with it, making history along with A LOT of trouble, starting from the police refusing to protect them in their concerts all the way to actually get them arrested.
No one has ever heard anything like that before. They basically set the bar way too high for anyone to reach. They exposed police brutality, racial profiling and minority problems in “F**k Tha Police”, they told people how things really ‘go down’ in the inner-city and the ghettos in “Gangsta Gangsta“ and basically filled “Straight Outta Compton”, their first debut album, with harsh and unheard of truths.
The importance of all of this is that they set a precedent. A precedent of ‘saying’ it as it is’, no sugar coating, no down-watering, not even taking it easy. They sat there telling their story, hugging their right of free speech with their hands and feet. Before N.W.A., artists didn’t even try to touch sensitive subjects like racial profiling, authority misuse or social problems. And the ones who tried, went downhill pretty fast. They fought for their rights, and unsuspectingly, the right for other artists to speak their mind, to say what they want to say and to educate people in a way schools can’t.
One might think that this is a bit over the top, but think about it. If N.W.A. haven’t release “Straight Outta Compton” that included “F**k Tha Police”, would any American rapper be able to say anything concerning law enforcement at the moment? There is a possibility, but it’s highly unlikely.
Even social movements (like « Black Lives Matter » and « No Justice, No Peace ») scream three words that were not taken from an over-the-top revolutionist, not from a philosopher, and definitely not from a Renaissance aristocrat. They were taken from an album that was produced a couple dozens of years ago, and yes, it is “F**k Tha Police”
So, Matter Of Fact, N.W.A. fought to gain the right to criticize society at its deepest core, with real-life wording, sick beats, and unaltered sight, 38 years ago. Why you might ask? Well, as they themselves said in “Something Like That”: because you, as the public, you should know what’s up.