Rap legends like Ice-T and King Tee may have been among the first artists out of Los Angeles to make noise in the rap game, but West Coast hip-hop would truly find itself at the forefront of the culture following the release of Straight Outta Compton, rap group N.W.A's groundbreaking debut album. Comprised of Eazy-E, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, MC Ren and DJ Yella, N.W.A and group founder Eazy-E joined forces with music industry veteran Jerry Heller and launched Ruthless Records, on which Straight Outta Compton—a body of work that helped break barriers and ushered in an era that would ultimately become defined by gangster rap—was released on August 8, 1988.
Despite minimal airplay on radio, MTV or BET, Straight Outta Compton was a massive success, selling over three million copies to date and establishing N.W.A as one of the premier groups in all of rap. However, the album's success was also due in large part to the sheer shock value of its content, which many critics pegged as violent, nihilistic and misogynistic, making the group a target to everyone from political pundits to the F.B.I., who famously issued a letter to N.W.A condemning the Straight Outta Compton song "Fuck tha Police," which was viewed as an affront to law enforcement and incendiary in nature.
Captivating rap fans with their brash commentary and revolutionary undertones on songs like "Express Yourself" and the album's title track, N.W.A delivered one of the greatest albums of all time with Straight Outta Compton, leading them to be hailed as pillars within hip-hop and earn honors such as being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2016.
To commemorate the importance and impact of Straight Outta Compton, REVOLT has compiled a list of 10 songs from the past 30 years that were influenced or inspired by N.W.A's classic debut.
1 | "Born & Raised In Compton," DJ Quik
After N.W.A's breakout success, Compton quickly became a breeding ground for rap talent, with artists like DJ Quik capitalizing on the music world's infatuation with his stomping grounds. Releasing his debut album, Quik Is The Name, in 1991, DJ Quik lifted a sample from N.W.A's Straight Outta Compton party-starter "Compton's in the House (Remix)" for "Born and Raised in Compton," the album's hit lead single, which peaked at No. 16 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and helped pushed Quik Is The Name to platinum status.
2 | "8 Ball," DJ Quik
Another song from DJ Quik that can be traced back to N.W.A is "8 Ball," which borrows heavily from Eazy-E's Straight Outta Compton solo cut of the same name. Produced by Courtney Branch, Tracy Kendrick and Quik himself, "8 Ball" not only pays homage to the popular malt liquor beverage, but N.W.A's groundbreaking debut as well, adding to the list of rap songs influenced by the album.
3 | "Straight Outta Locash," CB4
Comedian Chris Rock and director Tamra Davis poked fun at gangster rap with their 1993 film CB4, which has gone on to become a cult classic within the hip-hop community. In spite of being a parody of the sub-genre, CB4 included cameos from gangster rap pioneers like Ice Cube and Eazy-E, and was accompanied by a soundtrack that included the song "Straight Outta Locash," a hilarious cover of N.W.A's "Straight Outta Compton." Recorded by the fictional rap group CB4, comprised of Chris Rock as MC Gusto, Daddy-O of Stetsasonic and Hi-C, "Straight Outta Locash" is one of the more popular instances of artists gleaning inspiration from Straight Outta Compton and remains one of Chris Rock's most endearing hip-hop moments.
4 | "Fuck The Police!," Rage Against the Machine
One rock group that has been embraced by the rap community in a big way is Rage Against The Machine, who helped bridge the gap between the two genres and cultures throughout the 90s. Recorded live during a performance at a benefit concert for Mumia Abu-Jamal on August 13, 1995, Rage Against The Machine's cover of "Fuck Tha Police" was released as a free 7" record exclusively for members of their fan club, but has since been liberated for mass consumption and is a testament of Straight Outta Compton's affect not only on the rap world, but rock and pop culture as a whole.
5 | "Fuck Tha Police," Bone Thugs-N-Harmony
Catching their big break after being signed to Eazy-E's Ruthless Records by the rap mogul himself, Cleveland, Ohio natives Bone Thugs-N-Harmony have assisted in carrying on the rapper's legacy over the years, with one show of homage being the group's contribution to the Straight Outta Compton (N.W.A 10th Anniversary Tribute) album. Released in 1998 on Priority Records, the 10th Anniversary Tribute included various covers of songs from N.W.A's seminal debut, including Bone Thugs-N-Harmony's rendition of "Fuck tha Police," a melodic take on the original that stands as one of the more potent contributions to the album.
6 | "Quiet on Tha Set," Big Pun, Fat Joe, and Cuban Link
Another song that shows N.W.A's debut album's impact on the rap community is Big Pun, Fat Joe and Cuban Link's remake of the Straight Outta Compton deep cut "Quiet on Tha Set," which was included on the album's 10th Anniversary Tribute. Featuring an alternate instrumental to the original, the Terror Squad trio's version of "Quiet on Tha Set" is an admirable attempt at recapturing the magic of its predecessor and remains an unsung gem from Pun's sparse, but classic catalog.
7 | "I Ain't The One," Scarface featuring WC
In 2002, Scarface teamed up with West Coast luminary WC on the track "I Ain't the One" from The Fix, the Houston rap legend's first release with Def Jam after becoming president of the label's southern division. The song, which contains a sample of the N.W.A cut "I Ain't the One," is a testament to Scarface's reverence for Straight Outta Compton, an album he's sampled on various occasions throughout his illustrious career.
8 | "No More Fun and Games," The Game
In 2005, Compton native The Game released his multi-platinum debut album, The Documentary, which produced chart-topping singles and elevated him to stardom seemingly overnight. Songs like "How We Do" and "Hate It Or Love It" dominated radio, but songs like "No More Fun and Games," which was produced by Just Blaze and featured a prominent sample of the N.W.A track "Gangsta Gangsta," spoke to the influence of Straight Outta Compton on the album and were the true indicator that Compton's legacy was in good hands.
9 | "Dopeman," Nicki Minaj featuring Pusha T
Nicki Minaj connects Compton and Queens on "Dopeman," the Barbie's Cookin Soul-produced version of N.W.A's "Dopeman (Remix)." Released as part of Minaj's 2010 mixtape It's Barbie Bitch!, "Dopeman" also includes a guest verse from Pusha T and is one of a number of instances in which rap artists' music have been inspired by the Straight Outta Compton album.
10 | "Good Cop Bad Cop," Ice Cube
In 2017, N.W.A member Ice Cube released the 25th anniversary edition of his classic sophomore solo album, Death Certificate, his third body of work after leaving the group in 1989. In celebration of the release, Ice Cube recorded the song "Good Cop Bad Cop," which included a sample of N.W.A's controversial Straight Outta Compton track "Fuck tha Police" and took law enforcement to task, and was released as the lead single from Death Certificate's anniversary edition.
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