BY ANDREW MOODY
“Rock and roll is not a guitar, it’s not long hair- that’s not rock and roll. The blues is the start of it all,” NWA frontman Ice Cube said. “You add some rhythm to the blues and you have all kinds of people that’s doing rock and roll. All of it is a spirit- if you don’t see how NWA is rock and roll then you really don’t get what it’s all about.”
NWA began life in the mid eighties in the black suburbs of California that Nixon in 1971 and Reagan in 1982 had ordered a corrupt war on drugs that saw nightly TV cop shows draw favour and the LAPD become even more militaristic developing a giant battering ram that could destroy a house in seconds.
Easy E, a hustler who never went anywhere without two grand in his trademark white socks, knew that life as a g was cheap and a bullet showed no love to anybody. Using his crack funds, he invested in a brilliant young DJ who had started as a dancer, Dr Dre, whose hobby was taking apart sound systems and putting them back together better. Street Poet Ice Cube, who never went anywhere without his A4 binder filled with lyrics, became an instant part of the group, as did tight rapper MC Ren and talented hip hop DJ Yella.
Originally their name was to be FROM COMPTON WITH LOVE a kind of black Bond pastiche until one day Easy said:
“What about NWA: Niggas With Attitude?”
Their dream was to be a kind of black Beatles supergroup but one that had the guts to take on street problems like crack, the LAPD and the presidency for their hypocritical approach to black struggles.
The sequence in STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON (2015) where the police shut down the concert playing FUCK THE POLICE is the finest scene of the millennium. Incidentally, the film is the highest grossing music biopic in history, but was not nominated for any major Oscars.
Easy E, who would later die of complications from the aids virus, once scowled at a timid white reporter who asked him how he made so much money from records:
“With a gun,” he grinned.
I first bought STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON in 1997 when Eminem broke and opened up a plethora of black hip hop for a white audience.
Before Easy E passed, his one dream was to reform the group. On September 7th 2013 in San Bernardino California he made one final appearance from the grave, as Rezin8, a San Diego Company specializing in digital design recreated a holographic recreation of the rapper who performed some songs to a rapt audience. The stage seething with dry ice and marijuana smoke, Easy yelled:
“What’s up L.A? Make some muthafucking noise!”
Follow Andrew Moody on Twitter @Voguishfiction