I like to showcase a variety of music on my Saturday posts, and this week’s pick comes along with a movie.
Have you seen “Straight Outta Compton”? I saw it the night it came out and have the DVD. I call it an African-American history class with comedy and drama thrown in. I loved it. The movie shows the struggle of the group members as they are starting out in Compton, California and grow into and out of the group. Ice Cube’s son, O’Shea Jackson, Jr. is really nice to look at. I was really upset that the movie didn’t win a single Emmy (feel free to fact check me on that).
The guys in N.W.A. grew up in Compton, a really low-income area in California. It was known in the 80s for drug dealing and gangs. The songs that (mainly) Ice Cube wrote were about what he saw going on around him- racial profiling, shootings, and so on. They didn’t live the easiest lives. He was still in high school when writing some of the earlier songs. The group later broke up (as you can see in the movie- no spoilers) and Ice Cube wrote the best diss track ever, “No Vaseline” as a result. Even though the group broke up, they inspired a whole generation of rappers.
It’s pretty difficult to really do a lyric analysis on this group, because it’s hardcore rap. There’s a lot of cursing involved, and even though I have a really bad mouth, I try to keep that off the blog. I do that because I figure some of you may find that offensive. I decided for this week, I’ll pick a song and discuss it.
The song I picked is “No Vaseline”. Basically, Ice Cube was done with his former group members. He didn’t like the direction the group was going in and really didn’t like their manager, Jerry Heller. He tried to tell everyone the truth about what was going on and nobody wanted to listen, so he went off on his own. He raps about what they used to be and how they basically sold out. He talks about how they let Jerry and money break them up. The song is actually sightly humorous if you listen and know the story behind it. If you ask me, it’s kind of the beginning of serious diss tracks. (For those of you who aren’t into rap, this is where rappers go at each other in their songs.)
This is your rap history lesson for the week. If you haven’t seen “Straight Outta Compton”, you definitely should.
Pic courtesy of pinterest