When we speak on hip-hop, we gotta give it up for N.W.A., the squad that held the mirror up to society, capturing the raw and real essence of the streets. Hailing from the city of Compton, this crew shook the world with their unfiltered narratives, carving out a path for gangsta rap, and reshaping the cultural landscape. Their albums, “Straight Outta Compton” and “Niggaz4Life,” still bang hard, loaded with cuts that unpack the harsh realities of life in the hood.
From the explosive “Straight Outta Compton – Remastered 2002” to the raw storytelling in “Dopeman,” and “Fuck Tha Police” their music was a sonic Molotov cocktail, setting the status quo ablaze. They were the gritty poets of the street, their verses going from high-octane anthems to thought-provoking narratives. They were always into something, with tracks like “Alwayz Into Somethin'” expressing their relentless spirit. The raw power of “A Bitch Iz A Bitch” and “Chin Check” made them the rowdy renegades of rap.
So let’s get into it. From “I’d Rather Fuck You” to “Straight Outta Compton”, here are the top 12 N.W.A. tracks:
12. I’d Rather Fuck You
“I’d Rather Fuck You” might be the rawest of the raw in N.W.A.’s catalog. This track is out here not giving a damn and it wears his heart on its sleeve, although it’s a heart more interested in booty calls than deep connections. The song’s reliance on Eazy-E’s limerick-like delivery is its strength and weakness. Eazy’s humoristic approach to explicit content provides decent laughs, but don’t expect any deep lyrical content here. As a testament to N.W.A.’s audaciousness, it’s a standout; as a music track, it’s more for the laughs than the replay value. More a testament to N.W.A’s raw energy than their lyrical prowess, it’s undeniable both in its explicitness and in its place in hip-hop history.
11. Quiet On Tha Set
“Quiet On Tha Set” is a gem purely based on its audacity. Despite its comparatively lower rank among N.W.A.’s critically acclaimed hits, it still embodies the very essence of street fervor and angst. MC Ren is on the mic, steady spitting venomous bars. Yes, it’s not steeped in the socio-political narrative or sonic seismic shifts that some of their more lauded tracks deliver, but it is raw and unapologetic. This song is unrefined hip-hop, served straight no chaser, offering a gritty peek into the Compton streets. It doesn’t match up to the catalytic power of N.W.A.’s other songs, and for that it sits lower on the list, but doesn’t diminish its authenticity. “Quiet On Tha Set”… it’s like witnessing a graffiti artist paint the town – messy, yet unfiltered artistic expression.
10. If It Ain’t Ruff
No disrespect to MC Ren, but this joint sits on the lower end of N.W.A.’s catalog. With production that sounds like a left-over session from Dr. Dre’s pedagogic era, it’s a bit understated compared to the explosive classics we know and love. That said, Ren holds his own lyrically, spitting hard-knocks-laced verses with a low, haunting growl that underscores the grit and grime of the streets. Despite falling flat in energy, “If It Ain’t Ruff” is still an essential testament to N.W.A’s commitment to portraying the harsh realities of Compton’s notorious streets. It just doesn’t hit as hard or resonate as deeply as their most defining cuts.
“Dopeman” is near the middle of the pack when recounting N.W.A’s standout tracks, catching some flack for its repetitive vibe as Ice Cube’s lyrics echo the earlier “Dope Man,” laying down the street law again. However, it shouldn’t be written off – the grimy beat still goes hard, bringing the grim realities of drug dealing to visceral life. It’s hip-hop nonchalance at its rawest, a sociopolitical commentary wrapped in hardcore rhymes. It may not drip with the lyrical finesse of N.W.A’s premier joints, but “Dopeman” indubitably helps craft the crew’s West Coast gangsta image. It may not bang in the clubs like “Straight Outta Compton,” but it’s a testament to N.W.A’s fearlessness in exposing the Compton streets’ harsh reality.
8. Appetite For Destruction
Yo, “Appetite for Destruction” off N.W.A.’s ’91 record “Niggaz4Life” is an undervalued gem, no doubt. This joint is a stark portrayal of the streets, from the gunshots that open the track to the lyrical violence that follows. Yeah, it plays second fiddle to the major hits like “Straight Outta Compton” or “Fuck tha Police,” but it’s got a raw authenticity that’s hard to deny. Strong verses from MC Ren and Dre bring that menace, while the beat, punctuated by that eerie piano riff, generates straight tension. It may not be a classic in the traditional sense, but “Appetite for Destruction” exemplifies the gritty realism that N.W.A. brought to hip-hop.
7. A Bitch Iz A Bitch
“A Bitch Iz A Bitch” is that raw, uncensored N.W.A. reality check, a song that showcases their unapologetic, in-your-face style. Laid over Dre’s distinct G-funk-infused production, Ice Cube pulls no punches with his lyricism – gritty, full of gall, but never without a pointed purpose. It might not sit well with everyone, but hey, that’s N.W.A. for ya. Emblematic of their attitude, “A Bitch Iz A Bitch” contributes to the narrative that N.W.A. weren’t just a group – they were a statement. With this track, N.W.A. solidified themselves as the voice of the streets, fearlessly addressing issues that mainstream society preferred to sweep under the rug.
6. Alwayz Into Somethin’
“Alwayz Into Somethin'” stands strong as a crucial post-Ice Cube jam, a cinematic piece that paints a picture of the chaotic environments N.W.A were navigating. Dr. Dre’s innovative G-Funk production on this cut was a revelation; his use of synths and basslines to craft a somber and gritty soundscape showed his genius. MC Ren carried the verses with his hard-hitting bars, painting a vivid image of the ruthless streets of Compton, proving that he could hold his own even without Cube. But even though it’s a solid tune, it lacks the ground-breaking punchiness of N.W.A’s top-tier tracks; it’s a vital piece of their discography, but by no means their definitive work.
5. Express Yourself
“Express Yourself”, bruh, this the track that gets lyrical wit’ it. Ice Cube departin’ from his usual gangsta persona, preachin’ about individuality and free speech, telling all the homies out there to let their voices be heard. This joint ain’t just a song, it’s a manifesto— like “Fight the Power” or “The Message”. Dr. Dre’s funky bassline hit you straight in the gut, making this cut catchy, danceable and conscious at the same time. N.W.A. proved they weren’t just about shock value, but could spit knowledge with the best of ’em. Yet, it’s not positioned higher because comparatively it lacks the audacious rawness of N.W.A.’s more provocative joints.
4. Gangsta Gangsta
“Gangsta Gangsta,” track number 7 on N.W.A’s seminal album “Straight Outta Compton,” is one of the joints that helped shape gangsta rap as we know it. This Eazy-E narrated story of day-to-day hustling and thug life in Compton is raw and unapologetic, permeated with a sense of realness that was fresh in ’88. It’s straight street narration, where the beats hit hard and the rhymes hit harder. Ice Cube spins the tale, and he ain’t sugarcoating nothing. Is it glorifying violence? Nah, it’s peeling back the veneer to show life as it is on streets that ain’t no yellow brick road. As a piece of storytelling, “Gangsta Gangsta” is a testament to the group’s lyrical prowess and fearless commentaries.
3. Chin Check
“Chin Check,” coming in the backend of N.W.A.’s catalog, is an auditory tent-pole of sorts. Recorded for the highly anticipated reunion on the “Next Friday” soundtrack, you got Cube, Ren, and Dre spitting with gusto once more, backed by that trademark G-Funk beat. But there’s a notable Eazy-E shaped void in the mix that’s filled in by Snoop Dogg, who though lyrically sharp, lacks Eazy’s menacing aura. This reunification joint is tight, but the absence of the godfather of gangsta rap leaves it feeling like an incomplete cipher. Still, it’s a cold slice of West Coast life that reminds you just why N.W.A. sat atop the throne.
2. Straight Outta Compton
Landing on the list at the number 2 spot is “Straight Outta Compton,” the title track and total game-changer from N.W.A.’s seminal 1988 album. Don’t get it twisted, this is a banger – with Ice Cube, MC Ren, and Eazy-E spitting venomous bars that gripped the nation. Yet, compared to the group’s other gems, it’s not their most incisive work. While the lyrics paint a vivid picture of life in Compton, the righteous anger elsewhere in their discography gives way here to more a generic brag rap. It’s a necessary flex, I get that, but it’s lacking the political edginess N.W.A. is known for. But let’s be real, the beat is still hot enough to melt your vinyl.
1. Fuck Tha Police
Ayo, “Fuck Tha Police” is one of them records that’s forever stamped in the annals of hip-hop history. This was N.W.A. stamping their authority, putting the world on notice. This track kicked up a whole lot of dust – from the FBI to police departments coast-to-coast feeling some kinda way. As raw and controversial as it was, it was also a lyrical tour de force, every verse a pointed critique against the boys in blue. Driven by raw emotion, it’s an unapologetic anthem of resistance that resonated across communities dealing with police brutality. It not just shook the hip-hop world but played a role in amplifying the dialogue around racial profiling. N.W.A. showed mad courage releasing this one. Straight legendary, fam.