By: Marques Crump
As everybody is waxing nostalgic and heavily praising the movie Straight Outta Compton, I must admit that rehashing the legacy of NWA has produced conflict in my spirit. I’m still debating if I want to see the movie…
Back in ’88 when I heard Eazy-E and NWA’s respective albums, my mind was blown! Growing up in hip hop’s glory days where the East Coast ruled, to hear something so drastically and radically different—lyrics that were hardcore, unrelentingly vulgar, violent, rebellious and impenitent shocked me (as well as the nation) to the core!
With my Walkman, I took in the profanity and beats by Dre (no pun intended…kinda) with astonishment! Along with Public Enemy, they were my favorite group and shaped my social consciousness at the time.
NWA kicked in the door, took no prisoners and, as Reaganomics was ravaging inner cities across the country, gave us something that was needed.
Or was it?
As time moved on, I still listened to their music some; but I realized something. NWA, though heavily lauded as being basically street reporters and was a steady voice to the disenfranchised and voiceless in the ghettos of LA, was also not who we propped them up to be. As the movie highlights the musical legacy these original “Boyz-N-The-Hood” created, I’m sure their true legacy is conspicuously missing.
So what exactly is their legacy?
Besides putting West Coast and gangsta rap on the map, they also created a legacy of scorn and hatred towards Black women.
Some of their highlights, or worse yet, lowlights include:
- They made misogyny (the disrespect and mistreatment of women) fashionable and highly profitable.
- They glorified domestic abuse (Dr. Dre is known for beating 2 women badly—which TI and Eminem made light of in their respective songs).
- They boasted about gang raping a woman (“One Less B”& “She Swallowed It”).
- They never made one song that uplifted Black women. Not one paltry lyric. Just as Kim Kardashian became the face of attention deprivation, they made sistas the face of the B word. Many times in their songs they threatened to kill or mock women who were assaulted. Coincidentally, the name of the song the movie is inspired by, Straight Outta Compton made this abundantly clear.
You would think they would have some remorse for their misogynistic track record. Nope! In a recent Rolling Stone interview, Ice Cube reminded us of NWA’s policy of dogging sistas:
“If you’re a B, you’re probably not going to like us,” he laughs. “If you’re a ho, you probably don’t like us.”
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Ironically, they became loved.
Sadly, the all-out assault on Black women that made NWA legendary are the very things that are still heavily prevalent in rap, and, by extension, R&B today. Ever notice how in Chris Brown’s Loyal he calls the Black girl a B but not the white one?
This wasn’t just some passing fad that mercifully went out with Ice Cube’s Jheri Curl. Calling sistas out of their names, objectifying them, and celebrating physical and sexual violence against them is now as commonplace in rap and R&B as Payday Loans stores are in the hood.
This tweet from Selma filmmaker Ava DuVernay captures the dysfunctional relationship between rap and women profoundly:
To be a woman who loves hip hop at times is to be in love with your abuser. Because the music was and is that. And yet the culture is ours.
— Ava DuVernay (@AVAETC) August 16, 2015
Not that East Coast hip hop was totally innocent. NWA and gangsta rap popularized other destructive vices that we still hold dear, but that’s a whole different post. Consequentially, we’re still reeling from the height of that musical era.
Is that a legacy we should be celebrating with this trip down memory lane? I regrettably shake my head when I look back on how our music and general respect for one another was destroyed as we consumed the toxins and hatred found in gangsta rap—started by NWA and sponsored and bio-engineered by the record industry.
So as you bring out your Jheri Curl wigs, Locs, and Raiders caps to attend the movie and relive the glory days of “The World’s Most Dangerous Group,” NWA, ask yourself these two questions:
- Who were they the most dangerous to, and what exactly are we glorifying them for?
- For being revolutionaries or revilers?
They might be Straight Outta Compton, but many years later, they’ve left me straight outta conflict about them.
BMWK, are you straight outta conflict? Are you struggling with seeing movie? Tell us why or why not.
Marques Crump is a mutli-talented child of God using his talents to encourage and enlighten the masses. Known as the “Love Philosopher,” he philosophizes on life, love and relationships through his unique blend of insight, spirituality and humor. He has created a blog, “Can U Dig It? The Word & Verbs of Marq Diggs,” and hosted the former award winning podcast, “Get Lifted!” He works, plays, prays, and lays his head down nightly in Milwaukee, WI. Find him here at www.canudigitblog.com.