Straight Outta Compton

Album: Straight Outta Compton (1988)
Charted: 62 38

Songfacts®:

  • "Straight Outta Compton" is the title track from N.W.A's 1988 debut album. The song details the ups and downs of the gangsta life on the streets of south-central Los Angeles. MC Ren warns the "more punks I smoke, yo my rep gets bigger," while Eazy-E promises "you see I'll get over the hesitation, and hear the scream of the one who got the lead penetration."

    Critics accused the group of glorifying the gangsta lifestyle, but Ice Cube insists they are merely documentarians. He told the Sunday Correspondent Magazine in 1989: "The parents, the police and the people of the local community are scared of what we say. We use the same kind of language as the kids use every day. In the black community, the ministers and teachers don't deny that the problems we rap about exist, but they'd rather sweep it under the rug. Maybe that's why we sell so many records because the people in the community all tell the kids what to do, the police are watching them 24-7, so when they party, they don't want to hear, 'Don't do this and don't do that.' Our raps are documentary. We don't take sides."
  • Straight Outta Compton was one of the first albums to feature a Parental Advisory sticker. Just a few years earlier, Tipper Gore was incensed when she heard the sexually explicit lyrics of Prince's "Darling Nikki" floating out of her young daughter's bedroom. Shortly after, she co-founded the Parents Music Resource Center on a mission to help parents keep tabs on inappropriate material "unsuitable for minors" (i.e. sex, drugs and alcohol, violence and even the occult). In N.W.A's case, violence was the biggest offender in songs like this one and "F--k tha Police" - although sex and violence in particular would return with a vengeance in their next album, Efil4zaggin (Niggaz4life backwards).
  • Aside from the furor over their violent lyrics, N.W.A took hits over their "Straight Outta Compton" video that followed the group on their home streets in the midst of a police "gang-sweep." Even Yo! MTV Raps, which obviously sought to promote the genre, refused to play the video, even the cleaned-up version. There was also criticism of the video rising out of Compton because outside extras were used in place of real locals.
  • Weird Al Yankovic parodied the song and album title with his 2006 album Straight Outta Lynwood (Yankovic really is from Lynwood, California, which is north of Compton). It became his most successful album in the US and the first to break into the top ten.
  • In 2015, an N.W.A. biopic called Straight Outta Compton was released, starring Ice Cube's song O'Shea Jackson, Jr. as his father. The film was a huge success, taking in about $60 million its opening weekend. Many media outlets were on watch for violence related to the movie, but there were no major incidents.
  • The song debuted at #38 on the US Hot 100 in 2015 following the release of the Straight Outta Compton movie. It was N.W.A.'s first ever entry in the Top 40 of the US singles chart.
  • He's not listed on the credits, but the rapper and Dr. Dre associate The D.O.C. wrote Eazy-E's verse on this song.

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