Straight Outta Compton
by Walter Price
1988, August, everything changed in the music industry with the release of one album. An album that would launch superstar careers, scare the poo out of Middle America and shine light on an area and way of life only plagiarized by the media before. The album is Straight Outta Compton.
I was given a cassette copy of this masterpiece shortly after release and I waited to be alone before I had a listen. If what folks were saying about the content, I couldn’t be caught. Not only did it have powerful never heard before mind-blowing stories about a place called Compton but these cats were so brutally honest it was seriously scary. For me anyway, I was sorta insulated from such realities only relying on TV, friends, movies and CNN for my knowledge but it now seemed those outlets weren’t sharing the full story.
This article is about the title track, the one that started a revolution. Gangsta Rap they called it and I never followed the train of thought that this album in particular glorified the thug lifestyle. I looked at it as an education.
“Straight Outta Compton” (Ice Cube. MC Ren and Eazy-E) smashed all boundaries with just the first few words from Ice Cube, “Straight outta Compton, crazy motherfucker named Ice Cube From the gang called Niggaz With Attitudes”. That was so freaking amazing to a skinny teenage white boy in Texas. I was enthralled, nervous and downright addicted. As were millions…
I swear I understood what freedom of speech was (is) but at the time I couldn’t understand how a folk song from the streets could legally be recorded. I had a feeling these poets would be arrested for indecency or at least for telling the truth; people don’t like to face with the truth. And I believe that is why millions adored it, we all felt we were part of a movement and we were.
And I do know that with all forms of expression there are stretches on realities but closer to the core of their environment than any of us ever knew.
In the scope of things very few songs can be pinpointed as ones that changed the way we perceive people, a places and change culture forever. “Straight Outta Compton” is such a song and is still as raw and fresh as the day I first heard it 28 years ago.