NWA Biography

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NWA biography


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Ice Cube Interview Before He Left NWA
NWA interview
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Biography 1

N.W.A., the unapologetically violent and sexist pioneers of gangsta rap, is in many ways the most notorious group in the history of rap. 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. capitalized on PE'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, but following Ice Cube's departure late 1989, the group began to turn to self-parody. With his high-pitched whine, 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 them 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 Although the group was no longer active, their influence -- from their funky, bass-driven beats to their exaggerated lyrics -- was evident throughout the '90s.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 (b. 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 (b. O'Shea Jackson) began writing songs for Ruthless. Eazy tried to give one of the duo's songs, "Boyz N The Hood," to Ruthless signs 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 (b. Antoine Carraby), the Arabian Prince and the D.O.C. to the group. N.W.A.'s first album, N.W.A. and the Posse, was a party-oriented jam record that largely went ignored upon its 1987 release. In the following 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 Straight Outta Compton, a vicious hardcore record that became an underground hit with virtually no support from radio, the press or MTV. N.W.A. became notorious for their hardcore lyrics, especially those of "Fuck Tha Police," which resulted in the FBI sending a warning letter to Ruthless and its parent company Priority, suggesting that the group should watch their step. Most of the group's political threat left with Ice Cube when he departed in late 1989 admist many financial disagreements. A nasty feud between N.W.A. and Cube began that would culminate with Cube's "No Vaseline," an attack on the group's management released on his 1991 Death Certificate album. By the time the song was released, N.W.A., for all intents and purposes, was finished. In the two years between Ice Cube's departure and the group's dissolution, N.W.A. was dominated by Eazy-E's near-parodic lyrics and Dr. Dre's increasingly subtle and complex productions. The group quickly released an EP, 100 Miles and Runnin', in 1990 before following it up early the next year with Efil4zaggin ("Niggaz 4 Life" spelled backward). Efil4zaggin 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, Dre began to make efforts to leave the crew, due to conflicting egos and what he perceived as an unfair record deal.

Dre left the group to form Death Row Records with Suge Knight in early 1992. According to legend, Knight threatened to kill NWA's manager Jerry Hibbler if he refused to let Dre out of his contract. Over the next few years, Dre and Eazy engaged in a highly-publicized feud, which included both of the rappers attacking each other on their respective solo albums. MC Ren and Yella both released solo albums, which were largely ignored, and Eazy-E continued to record albums that turned him into a complete self-parody until his tragic death from AIDS in March 1995. Before he died, Dre and Cube both made amends with Eazy. With his first solo album, 1992's The Chronic, Dr. Dre 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 moralistic, hedonistic 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.

Biography 2

Formed Compton, California, 1986; disbanded 1991?? (THEIR BACK). It was Eazy-E who kicked it off. High-school drop-out turned small-time dealer, Eric Wright founded Ruthless Records on his narcotics profits, swiftly teaming with World Class Wreckin' Cru DJs Dr. Dre (Andre Young) and DJ Yella (Antoine Carraby). A loose affiliation of NWA (Niggers With Attitude) - including young hopeful Ice Cube, future star The DOC and the now largely forgotten Arabian Prince - recorded the showcase set, NWA And The Posse in 1987. Having refined the line-up to Eazy, Dre, Cube, Yella and MC Ren (Lorenzo Patterson), NWA unleashed Straight Outta Compton in 1988. Padded with routine rap and disposable dance, the album achieved epochal status thanks to the opening three tracks: "Straight Outta Compton", "Fuck Tha Police" and "Gangsta Gangsta". The songs rocketed NWA to multi-platinum notoriety, helped by an FBI attempt to block distribution. In stark contrast to the pop-rappers who dominated Billboard's chart, NWA cultivated a surly mystique that quickly became de rigueur for hip-hoppers who didn't want to take the Fresh Prince route to stardom. A video for "Straight Outta Compton" reinforced the image, establishing a uniform of black cap, black clothes, black boots and permanent frowns. But like the similarly adversarial Sex Pistols, no sooner had NWA hit the heights than they lost their principal voice. Unwilling to continue as lackey for Eazy-E, Cube hopped aboard the Public Enemy bandwagon, guesting on Fear Of A Black Planet (1990) and recruiting the Bomb Squad to produce his debut solo set. NWA, meanwhile, scored further hits with the 100 Miles And Running EP (1990) and Efil4zaggin (1991). A tribute to Dre's burgeoning production talent and Eazy's eye for a quick buck, the latter topped the US charts and made a splash in Britain when the Obscene Publications Act was brought to bear on cuts like "Findum, Fuckum and Flee". All was not well in LA, however, as NWA split amid further acrimony. While Yella and Ren faded into obscurity, Eazy and Dre embarked on a highly entertaining feud, fuelled by a contractual clause that entitled the Ruthless ruler to a cut of the Doctor's royalties. Dre set the pace, recruiting youthful Calvin Broadus (aka Snoop Doggy Dogg) for the title cut of the 1990 soundtrack, Deep Cover (an album which also introduced Dre's half-brother Warren G). From there it was a short step to The Chronic (1992), an album as pivotal to rap as Straight Outta Compton, despite Eazy's claim that it merely ripped off the debut by gangsta crew Above The Law (an Eazy/Dre co-production from 1990). Confirming George Clinton's pre-eminence over James Brown as the choice for a new generation, The Chronic remoulded P-Funk as G-Funk, and thus served as a template for equally successful follow-ups like Snoop's Doggystyle and Warren G's Regulate . . . G-Funk Era (both 1994). Meanwhile rap fans delighted in the power struggle between Dre and Eazy. When the former came out with "Dre Day", his former employer sampled the cut on "Muthaphukkin' Gs". 'He can make a million records about me if wants to,' responded Dre. 'He's keeping my name out there.' Delighting in his role as the enfant terrible of rap, Eazy set jaws dropping when he lunched with George Bush at a Republican function, and endorsed one of the officers accused of beating Rodney King. More creditably, he steered Ruthless through rocky commercial waters, before dying of AIDS in March 1995. Eazy's passing brought to an end the bitter fallout of NWA, when Dre and Cube (who had already reconciled) said their farewells at his bedside. For better or worse, no rap crew has had such an enormous influence on the music scene at large. Commercially and culturally, NWA's impact overwhelms even that of Public Enemy; admittedly because, unlike them, they often set their sights no higher than the lowest common denominator. 'You are now about to witness the strength of street knowledge', NWA warned on Straight Outta Compton. Though critics and censors deemed them wrong, history proved otherwise.

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