In the late 80's, I loved De La Soul and enjoyed the whole New Jack Swing movement. I wasn't a fan of edgier rappers like Too $hort and what would become known as gangsta rap. I liked Public Enemy, but N.W.A. didn't do anything for me. A good part of it is my general dislike of rappers who yell. My listening to Straight Outta Compton was to discover how the music hit me now compared to my earlier disinterest. Nostalgia has increased my appreciation of the old school rap I've already listened to on the Rolling Stone Top 500 Albums list. Would N.W.A. get some credit from Cory now?
While the truthfulness of the “reality” N.W.A. claimed for their raps have been questioned through the years, the fact that young black men wanted to fantasize or boast these lyrics as real can not be disputed. How much of the misogyny, crime, and brutality is bravado and how much was the kind of documentation which PE claimed for their lyrics? The more I listen, the more I see the album as posturing more than reporting.
I was caught offguard on this listening of how old school the sampling sounded. Dre didn't go for the density of sampling which was more in vogue at the time. The sampling cliches of James Brown and repeating popular samples from other songs is still strong here. There is a funkiness here which would explode with the G-Funk sound a few years later.
I think my biggest reaction to listening to this album is how indifferent I felt when listening. As I prepared myself to add songs to the list below, I found myself having to give the album another skim. As far as I’m concerned, I’m grateful Ice Cube and Dre went their own directions and ditched this Easy E project.
Songs I Knew I Liked: Knew a couple, but didn't “like” them.
Songs I Now Like: None, really. If feeling generous, maybe “Express Yourself.”
Songs I Don't Want to Ever Hear Again: Most any time Easy E wraps, so “8 Ball” should probably be here.