BIOGRAPHY OF RAP GROUP N.W.A.:
This posse permanently changed the face of West Coast rap and the whole hip-hop nation itself, and is in many peoples eyes the most notorious group in the history of rap, ever. The Godfathers of rap even!
Emerging in the late '80s, when Public Enemy had rewritten the rules of hardcore rap by proving that it could be intelligent, revolutionary and socially aware, N.W.A. ("Niggaz With Attitude") capitalized on Public Enemy's sonic breakthroughs while ignoring their message. Instead, the five-piece crew celebrated the violence and hedonism of the criminal life, capturing it all in blunt, harsh language. Initially, the group's relentless attack appeared to be serious, vital commentary, and it even provoked the FBI to caution N.W.A.'s record company. N.W.A became one of (if not, the) the first gangsta rap act to achieve widespread commercial success without radio airplay or many other conventional mainstream promotions. In fact, they were banned from many radio stations. But following Ice Cube's departure late 1989, the group began to turn to self-parody. Eazy-E's urban nightmares now seemed like comic book fantasies, but that fulfilled the fantasies of the teenage, White suburbanites that had become their core audience, and the group became more popular than ever.
Nevertheless, clashing egos prevented the band from recording a third album, and they fell apart once producer Dr. Dre left for a solo career in 1992. Although the group was no longer active, their influence -- from their funky, bass-driven beats to their exaggerated lyrics -- was evident throughout the '90s. Ironically, in its original incarnation NWA was hardly revolutionary. Eazy-E (Eric Wright), a former drug dealer who started Ruthless Records with money he earned by pushing, was attempting to start a rap empire, by building a roster of successful rap artists. However, he wasn't having much success until Dr. Dre -- a member of the World Class Wreckin' Cru -- and Ice Cube (O'Shea Jackson) began writing songs for Ruthless. Eazy tried to give one of the duo's songs, "Boyz N The Hood, " to Ruthless signees HBO and when the group refused, Eazy formed NWA -- an acronym for Niggaz With Attitude -- with Dre and Cube, adding World Class Wreckin' Cru member DJ Yella (Antoine Carraby), the Arabian Prince and the D.O.C. to the group.
N.W.A. was born when Eric 'Eazy-E' Wright began Ruthless Records, from money earned primarily from drug pushing. Ice Cube had already written a song for him named "Boyz-N-The Hood," and when one of the bands on his label rejected it, Eazy-E decided to rap it himself. Eazy formed "Niggaz With Attitudes" (N.W.A.) with Ice Cube as the MC, Arabian Prince, and former World Class Wreckin' Cru members Dr. Dre and DJ Yella. Eazy-E released the party album "N.W.A and the Posse" on Macola Records. Although marketed as N.W.A's debut album, half the songs didn't feature N.W.A, but rather a loose connection of artists on Ruthless Records. The album largely went ignored upon its 1987 release. Arabian Prince stayed with N.W.A. until July, 1988 when he left the group (but he can still be seen on album picture of Straight Outta Compton). One year later, Arabian Prince released Brother Arab, his first solo LP.
In the same year, the group added MC Ren and revamped their sound, bringing in many of the noisy, extreme sonic innovations of Public Enemy and adopting a self-consciously violent and dangerous lyrical stance. Late in 1988, N.W.A. delivered their second album Straight Outta Compton, a vicious hardcore record that became an underground hit with virtually no support from radio, the press or MTV. The album was a true underground blockbuster, as it reached double platinum sales status, becoming the first album to reach platinum status with no airplay support. Each member of N.W.A learned rap and production skills from the School Road Boys, who had met Dre in the 1980s and made significant contributions to the album by helping to co-produce it. Both Ice Cube and, to a lesser extent, MC Ren contributed lyrics, with Eazy-E providing comic relief within his rhymes. Producers Dr. Dre and Yella composed beats for each song, and Dre occasionally rapped on the album as well.
As the hip hop community world wide received the album with a high note, the members of N.W.A. became the top stars for the emerging new era of Gangsta rap while popularizing the rap of Ice Cube. Because Straight Outta Compton was an album featuring recurring violent and sexual lyrics and profanity, often specifically directed at governmental organizations such as the LAPD, N.W.A always enjoyed a particular repudiation from Senators and FBI. This situation persisted over the years with the group's visible head, Eazy-E.
In 2003 the TV network VH1 named Straight Outta Compton the 62nd greatest album of all time. It was ranked 10 in Spin's "100 Greatest Albums, 1985-2005". In 1998, the album was selected as one of The Source Magazine's 100 Best Rap Albums. It's the group's only album on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, ranked in at #144, and when comedian Chris Rock wrote an article for the magazine about the 25 Greatest Hip-Hop Albums of all time in 2005, "Straight Outta Compton" was #1 on his list. In 2006, the album was named as one of the 1001 albums you must hear before you die.
Seven songs from this album- "Gangsta Gangsta", "Fuck Tha Police", "Straight Outta Compton" [Extended Mix], "If It Ain't Ruff", "I Ain't Tha 1", the remix of "Express Yourself", and "A Bitch Iz A Bitch"- were later released on "N.W.A.'s Greatest Hits". The album's most controversial track, "Fuck tha Police" was responsible in great part for the fame of N.W.A as World's Most Dangerous Group. "Fuck Tha Police" was so lyrically controversial it resulted in Milt Ahlerich, an assistant director of the FBI, sending a letter to Ruthless Records and its parent company Priority, advising the rappers that "advocating violence and assault is wrong and we in the law enforcement community take exception to such action." Policemen also refused to provide security to the group's concerts, hurting their plans to tour. But in the end, the FBI's letter only served to draw more publicity to the group. Straight Outta Compton was also one of the albums which prompted the parental advisory label scheme.
Heres an excerpt from the lyrics of "Fuck Tha Police":
Ice Cube will swarm, On any muthafucka in a blue uniform,
Just cuz I'm from the CPT, punk police are afraid of me.
A young nigga on a warpath, And when I'm finished, it's gonna be a bloodbath
Of cops, dyin in L.A., Yo Dre, I got somethin to say."
Most of the group's political threat left with Ice Cube when he departed in late 1989 amidst many financial disagreements. Ice Cube suspected that Eazy E and his manager, Jerry Heller, were skimming money off of the group's album profits. Ice Cube wasted no time dropping his debut solo album, AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted, which included "A Message to the Oreo Cookie", an interlude in which insults are addressed to an unnamed individual – presumably Eazy-E, as the track concludes with a sneering "think about it... fuckin' sell-out."
In N.W.A's next album release, some five months later, they merely alluded neutrally to Ice Cube’s departure, rapping in the title track of their EP "100 Miles and Runnin'" that the group "started with five but one couldn't take it/ So now it's four, 'cause the fifth couldn't make it." However, the following year, the NWA's next full-length release, "Efil4zaggin" ( Niggaz4Life spelled backwords) showed a clear animosity towards their former member. Insulting references to Ice Cube are found in several songs, and in the middle of the album the track "A Message to B.A." echoes Ice Cube's "Message to the Oreo Cookie". In this interlude, Ice Cube is first addressed by the name "Benedict Arnold", who was the notorious traitor of the American Revolutionary War, but then named outright in a montage of abuse: "When we see yo' ass, we gon' cut yo' hair off an' fuck you with a broomstick," promises MC Ren.
The insults escalated: Ice Cubes solo album "AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted" had avoided direct attacks on N.W.A, but on Ice Cube’s second album, "Death Certificate", he fired back. He sampled and mocked the "Message to B.A." before embarking on a full-length rap, "No Vaseline", accusing N.W.A and their associates of a variety of failings, including being phonies, fools and homosexuals. Some considered his call for the murder of Eazy-E excessive, and his references to Heller’s religion prompted accusations of anti-Semitism ("You can't be the nigga for life crew, with a white Jew telling you what to do"), which may have prompted the track’s omission from the UK release of the album. But by the time the song was released, N.W.A., for all intents and purposes, was finished.
NWA's "Efil4zaggin" album was teeming with dense, funky soundscapes and ridiculously violent and misogynist lyrics. Naturally, the lyrics provoked outrage from many critics and conservative watchdogs, but that only increased the group's predominately male, White suburban audience. Even though the group was at the peak of their popularity, Dr Dre began to make efforts to leave the crew, due to conflicting egos and what he perceived as an unfair record deal.
Dre began his solo career, forming Death Row Records with former Bobby Brown bodyguard Suge Knight. According to legend, Knight threatened to kill NWA's manager Jerry Hibbler if he refused to let Dre out of his contract. Dr Dre's first album was The Chronic. On Dr Dre's single "Fuck Wit Dre Day", Dre and Snoop Doggy Dogg poke fun at Eazy-E and on the video for "Dre Day" Eazy was a character named Sleazy-E which was running around desperately trying to get money.
Eazy-E responded by releasing the EP It's On (Dr. Dre) 187um Killa. On the songs "Real Muthaphuckkin G's" (or "Real Compton City G's") and "It's On", Eazy-E makes fun of Dr. Dre by calling him a "she thang" and on the music video showing pictures of Dr. Dre wearing cosmetics and flashy clothes. While not as successful as Dre's The Chronic, it still went platinum in 1993. Suge Knight also dissed Eazy-E after his death, claiming the possibility that one can be shot with AIDS, "Like a Eazy-E thang you know?".
Over the next few years, MC Ren and Yella both released solo albums, which were largely ignored, but more noticable was the fact that Dre and Eazy engaged in a highly-publicized feud, which included both of the rappers attacking each other on their respective solo albums. Eazy E remained the head of Ruthless Records and was the executive producer of acts including Above the Law, MC Ren, and also Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, now one of Hip-Hop's biggest selling acts. His street credibility was temporarily damaged in Compton due to public political associations with the Republican Party, specifically President George H.W. Bush. Regardless, he continued to be an influential and representative image of gangsta rap in hip hop circles.
In 1995, he was working on a comeback album, "Str8 off tha Streetz of Muthaphukkin Compton" when he checked into a hospital with the belief he had strep throat. In a publicized statement, Eazy announced he had contracted HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This is due to his history of unprotected sex with multiple partners, exemplified by the fact that Eazy is said to have fathered seven children with six different women. One of his sons, who goes by the name of Lil Eazy-E, is now an up-and-coming rapper. During the week of March 20, the star drafted his last message to fans. A month after making that announcement, Eazy succumbed to the disease at a local hospital in Los Angeles at age 31. Some believe that before his death, Eazy had made amends with Ice Cube and Dr. Dre (although others believe that only DJ Yella saw Eazy while he was in hospital). The evidence stems from Dr. Dre's song "What's the Difference?" from 2001, which raps "Eazy I'm still with you, fuck the beef, nigga, I miss you, and that's just bein real with you." Dr. Dre said in an interview on VH1 once that Eazy had made peace with all the other members but when he got to the hospital to see him he was already in a coma and died shortly after.
Capitol and Ruthless Records released The N.W.A. Legacy, Vol. 1: 1988-1999 in 1998, an album that only contained three songs from the actual group, but contained many solo tracks from the five members. The success of the album caused the labels to release a second volume, The N.W.A. Legacy, Vol. 2, two years later. It followed the same format of the first album, containing only three tracks from the actual band and many songs from them as solo artists.
Finally in the year 2000 Dr.Dre, Ice Cube, MC ren were talking about a reunion and also putting in Snoop Dogg into the group, it didn't work out because Snoop Dogg and Ice Cube were to busy on solo projects. 7 years later the re-union rumours were fuelled again as it was announced plans to reunite members Ice Cube, Dr.Dre, MC Ren were in talks, with the release of an album called "This 1'z 4 You".
DR DRE AFTER NWA:
With Dr Dre's first solo album, 1992's The Chronic, going quadruple-platinum he established himself as the premier hip-hop producer of the mid-'90s, setting the pace for much of hardcore rap with its elastic bass and deep, rolling grooves. Gangsta rap established itself as the most popular form of hip-hop during the '90s, in other words, N.W.A.'s stance temporarily triumphed over the socially conscious, self-award hip-hop of Public Enemy, and it completely rewrote the rules of hip-hop for the '90s. Dre also launched the career of Snoop Dogg, who featured prominently on the album and went on to release his Dre-produced debut Doggystyle, which went 5x platinum. Such enormous success overcame New York's dominance on the hip hop scene, making West Coast rap a serious competitor.
Prior to the death of fellow Death Row artist Tupac Shakur (2pac) and the incarceration of Death Row co-founder Suge Knight, Dre left the label, forming his own label known as Aftermath Entertainment. He released a poorly received compilation album, Dr. Dre Presents...The Aftermath, only notable for his own single, "Been There, Done That". In 1999, he re-emerged as a force on the hip-hop scene with Eminem's The Slim Shady LP, which was executive-produced by Dre, and his own 2001, which featured similar "gangsta" subject matter as The Chronic but saw his production style take a different direction. The former went on to become 5x platinum and the latter 6x platinum, helping establish Aftermath on the hip-hop scene. Eminem's follow-up album, The Marshall Mathers LP, featured increased production involvement from Dre and was an enormous commercial and critical success, selling a record-breaking 1.7 million copies in its first week and eventually became one of only four rap albums in history to reach the 10x platinum (1x diamond) mark. Dre's success continued when he and Eminem produced 50 Cent's best-selling major-label debut, Get Rich Or Die Tryin'. Dre has also launched the career of Compton rap newcomer The Game, executive-producing his 2005 debut album The Documentary. Dre also has other big name rappers such as Eve and Busta Rhymes on the Aftermath roster. Rolling Stone magazine named Dre the 54th Greatest Artist of All-Time.
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ICE CUBE AFTER NWA:
Ice Cube also became a highly successful rapper. As of 2006, he has released six solo albums. Whereas N.W.A. rapped about gang life on the street, Ice Cube continued to include social commentary on his records on subjects such as gun control in the ghetto and the 1992 Los Angeles riots. Like Dr. Dre, he has gained influence over other rappers such as Eminem and The Game. His political albums are most remembered for referring to America as AmeriKKKa, as well as addressing hypocrisy and issues such as ganglife and racism. All of his solo albums, except his first, debuted in the top 5. His first three albums (AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted, Death Certificate, and The Predator) were big hits; they all achieved platinum status, and were greeted with rave reviews by critics. His fourth solo effort, Lethal Injection, was recorded on the back of projects with his crew, Da Lench Mob, and starring in Boyz N the Hood. It found Cube trying to keep up with the G-funk sound that was popular on the West Coast at the time, and as a result, Cube started to lose ground to his fellow West Coast rappers, such as Dre & Snoop Dogg. In 1996, he ended up being involved in the East vs West Coast hip hop rivalry. He teamed up with Mack 10 and WC to form the rap supergroup known as Westside Connection, which released hit singles such as "Bow Down" and "Gangsta Nation." After only two albums, the group split up in 2004 after feuding and personal issues.
As his popularity increased, Ice Cube experienced huge success as an actor and director, starring in films such as Boyz N the Hood, Friday, Three Kings, xXx: State of the Union, Barbershop and Are We There Yet?. He has also released a reality TV series in March 2006, named Black.White. After an attempt to sign a contract to be on Aftermath Records he released his new album Laugh Now, Cry Later in 2006 on his own record company, Da Lench Mob Records.
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MC REN AFTER NWA:
MC Ren began a solo career under Eazy-E's Ruthless Records and after the death of his friend and producer, DJ Train, he departed from Eazy-E's side. He remained on the record label, releasing four albums, including his first gold release and his critically acclaimed platinum LP Shock of the Hour which made him more an underground act than his former colleagues. In 2004, Ren announced plans for a project with West Coast political rapper Paris. This turned out to be the Public Enemy album Rebirth Of a Nation (2006). Paris and MC Ren are featured most prominently on two tracks, "Raw Shit" and "Hard Truth Soldiers".
DJ YELLA AFTER NWA:
Being a DJ, there was not much of a commercial solo career for Yella to pursue, thus he was the lone member to remain loyal to Eazy-E after the breakup. He continued producing Eazy-E's records, including a couple of tracks for Eazy-E's protégés Bone Thugs-N-Harmony's debut EP Creepin On Ah Come Up. He also claimed he was the lone member of N.W.A. to be at Eazy-E's deathbed when he died. After the death of his friend, Yella released a solo album as a tribute to his former bandmate, but as with N.W.A., Yella did not touch the mic; instead, he hired guest rappers such as Dirty Red, Dresta, Traci Nelson, Leicy Loc, B.G. Knocc Out, and Efil4zaggin lyricist Kokane to perform. Yella has since retired from the music business and is now directing pornographic movies.
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