Last month, I reluctantly watched Dope, expecting to be clueless about the cultural references throughout the movie. Despite being naïve about the 90s hip-hop culture, I loved the film and ended up obsessing over the hip-hop scene it touched upon.
By: Courtney Sulzberger
Fast forward three documentaries, countless articles and many Spotify-hosted songs later, I’m now able to provide a few different insights on the history of hip-hop and it’s cultural effects – both of which are important for any future Straight Outta Compton viewers. Check out the following five insights and subsequent timeline for a look into the history of hip-hop, N.W.A. and the consequential cultural changes.
1.) Ice Cube Used to Be a Real Gangsta Rapper
Prior to his acting career, Ice Cube was a legitimate hip-hop star. Many millennials are only aware of his various roles in Barbershop and 21 Jump Street. Really, Ice Cube’s career started in the mid-80s when Dr. Dre recruited him to begin writing songs for hip-hop groups. Eventually, Ice Cube’s songs, including “Boyz-n-the-Hood” would help put N.W.A. on the map.
2.) Dr. Dre’s Producing Skills Were (and Still Are) On-Point
In the mid-80s, Dr. Dre teamed up with Ice Cube and Eazy-E and began producing phenomenal music. This led to the creation of N.W.A’s first album, Straight Outta Compton. Following his time with N.W.A, Dr. Dre produced his own music on his solo album, The Chronic. He also produced music for some of the best gangsta rappers from the 1990’s to today, and he’s not finished. Dr. Dre recently announced the release of his newest Straight Outta Compton-inspired album featuring Kendrick Lamar and Eminem.
3.) Many of Today’s Most Influential Rappers Only Exist Because of N.W.A
N.W.A’s music started a chain reaction for gangsta rap. The music featured explicit lyrics describing real-life scenarios with dark stories. After their break-up, members from N.W.A (most notably Dr. Dre) found and nurtured the careers of various rappers such as Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent and Eminem. Overall, N.W.A. helped put gangsta rap on the forefront of mainstream music.
4.) Electro-funk Heavily Influenced Early Hip-Hop
Electro-funk heavily influenced early hip-hop, including many members of N.W.A. The upbeat and funky genre influenced Dr. Dre and DJ Yella early in
their careers. Prior to N.W.A., Dr. Dre joined the musical group World Class Wreckin’ Cru and soon became prominent in the electro-hop scene. If you haven’t seen some of his early performances, I recommend checking them out now.
5.) N.W.A. Had a Monumental Affect on Music and Social Cultures
Rather than calling their music “gangsta rap,” N.W.A. referred to it as “reality rap.” Through their explicit lyrics, N.W.A. told stories about the forgotten urban areas of Los Angeles and the tumultuous police violence associated with it. Music was their voice and lyrics were their stories. As Easy-E stated, “Why do you think the fans like us – why they prefer our street raps over all that phony stuff out there? Because we’re telling the real story of what it’s like living in places like Compton. We’re giving them reality. We’re like reporters. We give them the truth.”
Checkout the infographic below for a full timeline of West Coast Hip Hop and don’t forget, Straight Outta Compton comes out August 14th.
Infographic via Radii Footwear