If you've seen the N.W.A. bio-pic titled after their album Straight Outta Compton (CD and LP), the whole "Fuck The Police" controversy played a major role in the 2015 film that arrives at Amoeba on DVD/BluRay upon its January 19th release. "Fuck The Police" also played a major role in the pioneering gangsta rap group's career resulting in a not-too-happy FBI famously contacting the group's record label regarding the inflammatory anti-law enforcement anthem. But in a June 1990 interview, Ice Cube, after he had left the group and just released his debut solo album AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted (in CD and LP), told me that the controversy with the police and the FBI over the song was blown out of proportion. "They just sent us a letter," he said, which put fear into Priority Records - the label headed by Bryan Turner that before N.W.A.'s success had been known for putting out the non-offensive The California Raisins.
Since its release three weeks ago the F. Gary Gray directed N.W.A biopic Straight Outta Compton has garnered a ton of press and generated newfound interest in not just the subjects of the film but in the whole history of West Coast rap. Everywhere you go over these past days there's some N.W.A related thing unfolding; from Ice Cube and Dr. Dre on the cover of Rolling Stone, to N.W.A getting heavy radio rotation (a quarter century later) on retro/throwback stations such as San Francisco's Q102, to N.W.A themed "Straight Outta Oakland" Oakland Raiders T-shirts (simultaneously bootlegging both the copyrighted logos of the football team and the gangsta rappers) being hawked by the roadside near the Oakland Coliseum this past Sunday when they hosted the Arizona Cardinals.
It is only natural that with all of this interest (read: more profits to be made) that there'll be a sequel movie such as Straight Outta Compton II: The Dr. Dre / Death Row Story. That's just one of many from the film that contained several story arcs that it didn't have time to fully develop in its packed 2 + half hours. In fact knowing Hollywood's love of bankable projects it could easily evolve into a franchise of seemingly never-ending sequels until it fizzles out with the final lackluster installment of Straight Outta Compton XI: Whateva Happened To Yella?
With their highly-anticipated biopic Straight Outta Compton opening in theaters today, August 14th, you can bet that there's gonna be a whole lot more talk about N.W.A's legacy in the history of hip-hop. The highly influential group's unique new take on raw in-your-face hardcore rap changed the rap game forever.
They first grabbed the attention of the hip-hop world in 1987 with "Boyz-n-the-Hood" and "Dope Man" on Ruthless Records via Macola when it was N.W.A and the Posse. That was when this collective of rappers from South Central LA first made people stop and listen to their unprecedented rap sound - a mix of head-nodding, hard, funky bassline beats and grooves with catchy as hell, no-holds-barred stories about life in the ghetto. Then came their landmark 1988 debut album Straight Outta Compton that gave the new film its title and sporting such soon to be classics as "Gangsta Gangsta," "Fuck Tha Police," "Dopeman (Remix)," and its powerful title track. Extra significant is the fact that Straight Outta Compton was recorded in just six weeks for only $8,000. The indie release with its iconic album cover art, that has been copied and parodied a million times since, would go on to sell three and a half million copies and, more importantly, be instrumental in altering the direction of a genre.
As you well know tomorrow - Saturday, April 18th - is Record Store Day 2015 and it is the one day that you must head to one of the three outlets of the world's largest independent record store - Amoeba Music - where we have some amazing RSD releases plus a ton of other stuff including in-stores sets ( and complimentary coffee, and announcement of the winner of the Pro-Ject Essential II turntable and a ton of choice vinyl. See full Amoeba Music RSD details here. As far as the special RSD releases - of which there are 500+ this year - some of the hip-hop ones include N.W.A.'s landmark Straight Outta Compton on cassette - with digital download card. To be best prepared for the rush and crowds of Record Store Day it is best to arrive at Amoeba prepared - knowing which specific RSD releases you want in advance of getting to the store. And you can study the full RSD 2015 releases list here.
For this week's installment of the Amoeblog's Hip Hop History Tuesdays I rewind the clock back 24 years to December 1990 when Def Jam mailed out to journalists, DJs, and other media folk on their press promo list a cool complimentary "Merry Christmas" mixtape by DJ Chuck Chillout that was supposedly the NYC radio station "WDEF" and its show "The Rush Hour." But while both the radio show and the radio station were imaginary the cassette and all the interviews on it, including EPMD, BWP, and Pubic Enemy's Chuck D (featured here), were all very real and conducted as if on the air live by the recording artist/radio DJ who was on KISS FM at the time.
The Rush Hour name referred to the Russell Simmons overseen artists - most on Def Jam - that were showcased on the mixtape that was a nice balance of artist interviews and music - a lot of two turntable beat juggle routines. Out of all the tape's interviews the interview with Chuck D (on behalf of Public Enemy) was the best one and hence, when I uncovered this long lost tape in past week, decided to upload it to YouTube to feature here on the Amoeblog Hip-Hop History feature. Note that the actual Chuck Chillout/Chuck D interview would have been recorded at the end of Summer/ start of Fall 1990 - right after PE got off tour in support of their then current album Fear Of A Black Planet (their third studio album that was released on May 10th, 1990).