NWA were a formidable force when they first emerged in the 1980s and shook up hip-hop with their aggression, raw energy and unapologetic lyrics. Comprised of Ice Cube, Dr Dre, Eazy-E, MC Ren, DJ Yella and Arabian Prince, the collective put Los Angeles on the map.
In 2015, the crew’s official biopic Straight Out Of Compton hit movie theatres across the globe. It grossed more than $161million at the box office. As such, in an interview with the Ohio newspaper, The Plain Dealer, Ice Cube (real name O’Shea Jackson) spoke about the movie and the importance of NWA in hip-hop.
Highlighting the film’s fantastic portrayal of the tight-knit relationship the members had, Jackson expressed, “There have been a few documentaries, but the movie really let people know who we were as people and friends – just five guys trying to make it. The movie let people see what we had to go through to make our music.”
He continued, “We had to stand up for freedom of speech against people like Tipper Gore. The group is extremely significant for music all the way around, creatively and when it comes to pushing the envelope for other artists to do what they do. Without N.W.A, there would be no Eminem.”
Although the claim may seem outlandish, 1980s anti-establishment collectives such as Public Enemy and NWA did shift the landscape of hip-hop significantly, bringing politics to the forefront.
Jackson expanded on how the group’s music changed society, elaborating, “When you put something on people’s radar and plant a seed in their mind, it might take some time for that seed to germinate and grow,. When we did ‘Fuck Tha Police,’ the police could do no wrong in a court of law. Now, after that song, police are held just as accountable.”
He continued, “We put this on people’s minds years ago, and now you have a generation of people who are looking very closely at how the police act and work.” You can hear ‘Fuck Tha Police’ in the video below.