On 11 February 2019 I set myself the challenge of reading 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die by Robert Dimery (ed.) and following the book’s advice to the letter. I’ve previously read 1001 Films… and started 1001 Albums… but felt 1001 Songs… would be a sensible place to start for what I have in mind here.
My challenge is to read about one song per day and listen to it (YouTube and Spotify, I need you tonight!) before sharing my own thoughts. Some songs I will love, others I’ll hate, and I’m sure there will be those that leave me perplexed but listen to them I shall.
I’ll also try, and most likely fail, to pinpoint the best song from the 1001 on offer but I’m nothing if not foolhardy. Instead of one song, I’m predicting I’ll have about 100 favourites by the end and may have to resort to a Top 10 so far to maintain any semblance of sanity.
So long as I post every day (including Christmas) then this challenge should come to an end on Wednesday 8 November 2021. Staying with the Barney Stinson theme I am hoping that the whole experience will prove to be… legendary!
N.W.A. – Straight Outta Compton (1988)
” Straight Outta Compton” is a song by American hip hop group N.W.A. It was released on July 10, 1988 as the lead single from their debut album of the same name. It also appears on N.W.A’s Greatest Hits with an extended mix and The Best of N.W.A: The Strength of Street Knowledge .
We’re staying in the US, dear reader, and leaving Ohio to make our way to California. Formed in 1987 N.W.A. (Niggaz Wit Attitudes) reads like a hall of fame in hip hop circles with members including Dr Dre and Ice Cube. I know little about hip hop but I have heard of those two. This rich ensemble of talent would not last long but they had a significant impact not just on hip hop but gangster rap as well. We join them in 1988 with the release of Straight Outta Compton and 1001 Songs have gone with the title track.
Straight Outta Compton references the city where N.W.A. were founded. The different members take turns in delivering the lyrics with Dr Dre doing the introduction. Ice Cube then takes over and describes who he is and the band he is from and the fact he is not about to take any shit from anyone, especially the police. MC Ren takes the second verse and we have a similar theme running here, all about being tough and angry, not willing to kowtow to authority and wanting to protect one’s rights. The third and final verse comes from Eazy E and he echoes his bandmates in laying down the tough streets of Compton and how one needs to be smart to survive.
N.W.A. were considered controversial with their lyrics and performances. Straight Outta Compton oozes controversy and badass attitude. I had no idea such prestigious names in hip hop circles had started in one group. By 1991 the group had disbanded with many of the members going on to enjoy successful solo careers. They have enjoyed reunions in the years that have followed though. Seems apt to close with the final line from this song: Damn, that shit was dope!
Favourite songs so far: