20 Years Later, Ice Cube Remembers The Impact of Straight Outta Compton

todayAugust 19, 2008

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This month marks 20 years since N.W.A.’s Straight Outta Compton changed the landscape of mainstream hip-hop. After that album was released, hip-hop was changed forever, and even today, the genre is feeling the effects.

Ice Cube — one of the group’s original members, alongside Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, MC Ren, and DJ Yella — reflected on the classic album recently, via an interview with the LA Times, calling it one of his proudest moments.

“I’m proudest of the impact of the record,” Cube told the paper. “The thing that people don’t talk about, really, is that it opened artists up to being themselves in a lot of ways. They didn’t have to try to figure out what to do or be to become stars, they could just be themselves. … After N.W.A, you didn’t have to put on the polish to be a star.”

“They know every word,” he added. “That music is still echoing, which nobody could have predicted. That’s what I’m proudest of, the impact that we had. N.W.A changed the rules.”

Despite all the success the Straight Outta Compton album resulted in for Ice Cube, he admits that, at the time, those thoughts didn’t even cross him, or his group members’ minds. To them, they were making music for their friends that would never be heard outside the hood.

According to Cube, the album’s success was just as surprising to the 39-year-old hip-hop superstar as anyone else at the time.

“We were coming from a straight, pure place,” he explained. “We thought our music was going to land on the shelves with the dirty comedy albums. The blues stuff. We never thought our music could possibly get above the underground. That wasn’t part of the plan, believe me. Did we expect to get rich or turn the industry on its ear? We were doing music we thought our buddies up the street might like.

“When I was 16, if someone asked me what kind of career and life I wanted to have, I would have shortchanged myself. If I wrote it out then, it wouldn’t have come close to the reality. There was no template then, no way to picture where hip-hop was going to go.”

Still though, today, as he listens to the music he made as a teenager, he understands why people loved it. But if you ask him at what point in time he was in his prime, musically, he says it’s yet to come.

“Looking back on things, you know, it’s not the healthiest thing to do, right? Especially when you’re only 39. I still feel like my best work is ahead of me. But going back and listening, I understand why people liked N.W.A. I understand why it changed things. I liked it too.”

As you look around the crowded hip-hop community these days, the impact of N.W.A. is there in plain sight. Talking about one’s troubled upbringings from their inner-city environments are pretty much a prerequisite for a rapper’s album these days. And if a rapper doesn’t have a hood certified background, it’s an imaginary one. However, one thing is clear, N.W.A. helped usher in that type of music into the homes of everyone across America. Even 50 Cent and his G-Unit crew recently created their own version of the title track from the N.W.A. album — there’s being “Straight Outta Southside.”

Ice Cube hasn’t strayed far from the type of music he started on either. The legacy continues on Tuesday (August 19) with the release of his next solo album, Raw Footage, which is sure to bring the vintage Ice Cube everyone has grown to love.

Source: BallerStatus

Written by: jahknoradio

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