For the NWA biopic named after this album, click here.
The album is considered a classic in Hip-Hop circles, pioneering the Gangsta Rap genre into prominence, but has also gained status with other music critics. For instance, it appears on Time Magazine's 2006 TIME All-Time 100 Albums list, as well as at #144 in Rolling Stone's Rolling Stone: 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, being elevated to #70 in the 2020 revision. The record is best known for controversial songs like "Fuck Tha Police", "Gangsta Gangsta", "Express Yourself", "Dopeman" and "A Bitch Is A Bitch". Despite urban legend, Straight Outta Compton was not the first album to be given the "Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics" label, though post-1990 copies were given the sticker.note
Tracklist (* = Bonus tracks included in the 2002 reissue):
- "Straight Outta Compton" (4:19)
- "Fuck tha Police" (5:45)
- "Gangsta Gangsta" (5:36)
- "If It Ain't Ruff" (3:34)
- "Parental Discretion Iz Advised" (5:16)
- "8 Ball (Remix)" (4:52)
- "Something Like That" (3:35)
- "Express Yourself" (4:25)
- "Compton's in the House (Remix)" (5:20)
- "I Ain't tha 1" (4:54)
- "Dopeman (Remix)" (5:20)
- "Quiet on tha Set" (3:59)
- "Something 2 Dance 2" (3:22)
- "Express Yourself (Extended Mix)" (*)
- "Bonus Beats" (*)
- "Straight Outta Compton (Extended Mix)" (*)
- "A Bitch Iz A Bitch" (*)
Fuck Tha Tropes!
- Added Alliterative Appeal: "Gangsta Gangsta"
- Album Filler: "Something 2 Dance 2" is considered to be this by most fans. It's basically an excuse to give N.W.A. member Arabian Prince a chance to Step Up to the Microphone and rap some meaningless lyrics to a danceable electro track.
- All Men Are Perverts: The band members come across as this on most of the tracks.
- Amen Break: Sampled during the title track.
- Anti-Love Song: "I Ain't The 1", where the protagonist informs his potential partner that he certainly isn't going to be told how to behave by her.
- Anti-Police Song: "Fuck Tha Police"
- Badass Boast: The epic opener:You are now about to witness the strength of street knowledge.
- Bigger Is Better:
- "Gangsta Gangsta"So we started looking for the bitches with the big butts.
- "I Ain't Tha 1"But you see, I don't go nuts
Over girls like you with the BIG ol' butts
- "Gangsta Gangsta"
- Call-Back and Continuity Nod:
- Ice Cube's line about his sawed-off gun in the title track would be referenced again on Ice Cube's solo album "Endangered Species (Tales From The Dark Side)":I told you last album - when I got a sawed off, bodies are hauled off.
- The line "Police On My Drawers I have to pause" from "N.W.A Remix" would be re-used by Easy-E on Bone Thugs-n-Harmony's' song "Foe Tha Love Of $.
- The line "If It Ain't Ruff It Ain't Me" from "Quiet On The Set" is a Call-Back to the song "If It Ain't Ruff".
- Ice Cube's line about his sawed-off gun in the title track would be referenced again on Ice Cube's solo album "Endangered Species (Tales From The Dark Side)":
- Cop Hater: The song "Fuck tha Police" is an Anti-Police Song about protesting against the cops for brutality and racial profiling.
- Covers Always Lie: There are six guys on the album cover. The extra man (between Cube and Yella) is Arabian Prince, a founding member of the group who left after the picture was shot but before the album was recorded.
- Darker and Edgier: Much of the attention surrounded the heavier lyrical themes and sound compared to most hip hop at the time. Even in today's standards, the violent content has been tamed down as most of it is commercial glitz rap.
- Death by Irony: At the start of "Gangsta Gangsta" the following dialogue takes place:Person 1: Ah shit. Man, them black gangstas are at it again. I wonder who they fucked up today?
Person 2 You, motherfucker! (gun shots)
Dr. Dre: Got him.
- Death by Racism: "Fuck Tha Police"Fuck the police coming straight from the underground
A young nigga got it bad cause I'm brown
And not the other color so police think
They have the authority to kill a minority
- Department of Redundancy Department: "Quiet On The Set"It tempts me so with temptation
- Dirty Cop: "Fuck Tha Police" informs the listener about cops without much morals.
- Drugs Are Bad: "Dopeman"If you smoke 'caine, you're a stupid motherfucker!
- Face on the Cover: The heads of the band members basically fill the cover.
- Gangsta Rap: One of the corner stones of the genre.
- Getting High on Their Own Supply: Mentioned negatively in "Dopeman", as a Shout-Out to Scarface:To be a dopeman, boy you must qualify,
Don't get high off your own supply.
- Gosh Dang It to Heck!: "I Ain't Tha 1" is close to entirely devoid of profanity, yet it does contain sexually explicit themes. Consequently, this trope was in play in some of the lyrics.
- High-Voltage Death: Dr. Dre ends up the electric chair in the music video of "Express Yourself".
- Huddle Shot: The band on the album cover.
- Hypocritical Humor: This gem from "Express Yourself", due to Dr Dre being a supporter of marijuana use:I still express, yo I don't smoke weed or sess, 'cause it's known to give a brother brain damage....
- Intentionally Awkward Title: "Fuck Tha Police" caused quite some controversy at the time with this anti-authoritarian message.
- Joker Jury: "Fuck Tha Police" has a cop being tried by MC Ren, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube and Eazy-E and eventually convicted for being "a redneck, whitebread, chicken-shit motherfucker".
- Let's Duet: "Something Like That", a duet between Dr. Dre and MC Ren.
- Letters 2 Numbers: "I Ain't The 1", "Something 2 Dance 2"
- Made a Slave: The music video of "Express Yourself" shows slaves working on a plantation.
- Misogyny Song: Many would apply, but "I Ain't The 1" and "A Bitch Is A Bitch" are probably the best example.
- Mohs Scale of Lyrical Hardness: 10, except for "Express Yourself" which is 2 only for the brief (and negative) drug reference, and "Something 2 Dance 2", which is a 1.
- Ode to Intoxication:
- "Gangsta Gangsta"We don't just say no, we to busy sayin' yeah!
About drinkin' straight out the eight bottle
Do I look like a mutha fuckin role model?
To a kid lookin' up ta me
Life ain't nothin but bitches and money
Cause I'm tha type o' nigga that's built ta last
- "8-Ball (Remix)"Olde English 800 cause that's my brand
Take it in a bottle, 40, quart, or can
- "Gangsta Gangsta"
- One-Man Song: "Dopeman".
- Ostrich Head Hiding: "If It Ain't Ruff"So whenever I'm steppin cover your head like an ostrich
- Police Brutality and Police Are Useless: "Fuck Tha Police", though it most be noted that they never refer to the police as a whole, but to "the police department", indicating they target a specific kind of police forces.You'd rather see, me in the pen
Than me and Lorenzo rolling in a Benz-o
- Product Placement:
- "Gangsta Gangsta"A t-shirt and Levi's is his only disguise
- The D.O.C. sings in the song "Parental Discretion Iz Advised" about his then-upcoming solo album "No One Can Do It Better" (1989).
- I Ain't Tha 1You want lobster, huh, I'm thinking Burger King
- "Quiet on the Set"I'm like Toyota, who could ask for anything more?
- "A Bitch Iz A Bitch"You're through without a BMW.
- "Gangsta Gangsta"
- Protest Song: See Take That!.
- Red Shirt: The dude who speaks at the beginning of "Gangsta Gangsta".
- Refuge in Audacity: To the point that they became even more notorious because of the controversy caused by their lyrics.
- Repurposed Pop Song: "Dopeman" originally appeared on N.W.A.'s debut EP "Panic Zone" (1986).
- "Straight Outta Compton" was one of the first popular tracks to use the Amen Break by The Winstons from their song "Amen, Brother". It also samples "Funky Drummer" by James Brown, "You'll Like It Too" by Funkadelic from the album Connections And Disconnections, "West Coast Poplock" by Ronnie Hudson and the Street People, "Get Me Back In Time, Engine No 9" by Wilson Pickett and "One For The Treble" by Davy DMX.
- "Fuck Tha Police" samples "Funky President" by James Brown, "It's My Thing" by Marva Whitney, "Boogie Back" by Roy Ayers, "Feel Good" by Fancy and "Be Thankful For What You Got" by William DeVaughn.
- During "Gangsta Gangsta" the line "It's not about a salary, it's all about reality" is a sample from Boogie Down Productions' song "My Philosophy". The line "hope all you sophisticated motherfuckers hear what I have to say" is sampled from Lady Reid's "Sonnet To My Idol". The sample "What we're gonna do right here is go way back" is from "Troglodyte (Cave Man)" by Jimmy Castor Bunch and "As We Go A Lil' Somethin' Like This" is from Slick Rick's "La Di Da Di". It also samples "God Make Me Funky" by The Headhunters, "Weak At The Knees" by Steve Arrington, "N.T." by Kool & The Gang, "Funky Worm" by The Ohio Players, "Prison" by Richard Pryor, "Girls" by The Beastie Boys, "Impeach The President" by The Honey Drippers, "Weak At The Knees" by Steve Arrington, and "Be Thankful For What You Got" by William DeVaughn.
- "If It Ain't Ruff" samples "A Star In The Ghetto" by The Average White Band.
- "Parental Discretion Iz Advised" samples "I Turned You On" by The Isley Brothers
- "8-Ball Remix" samples the line "Kick that shit" from Public Enemy's "Terminator X Speaks With His Hands" (1987), "City Of Compton" from "Ronnie Hudson & The Street People's "West Coast Poplock", "Cold Kickin' Ass" from Sweet Tee & Jazzy Joyce's "It's My beat"., "Pull up a chair" from Eric B. and Rakim"s "My Melody" from their album Paid in Full, "Yeah!" from The Beastie Boys "Fight For Your Right To Party" from Licensed to Ill. It also samples "Yes We Can Can" by The Pointer Sisters, "Be Thankful For What You Got" by William Devaughn, "It's My Beat" by Sweet Tea, "Hollywood Swinging" by Kool & the Gang, "Let's Get It On" by Marvin Gaye, "Go See The Doctor" by Kool Moe Dee.
- "Something Like That" samples "Down On The Avenue" by Fat Larry's Band, "Take The Money and Run" by The Steve Miller Band and "I Think I'd Do It" by Z.Z. Hill.
- "Express Yourself" samples "Express Yourself" by Charles Wright (who incidentally, was Eazy-E's uncle) & The Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band.
- "I Ain't Tha 1" samples "The Message" by Brass Construction.
- "Dopeman" samples "Dance To The Drummer's Beat" by Herman Kelly & Life, "Funky Worm by The Ohio Players and "My Posse" by C.I.A.
- "Quiet On The Set" samples "Funky Drummer" by James Brown, "I Get Lifted" by George McCrae, "Rock Creek Park" by The Blackbyrds, "Take The Money and Run" by The Steve Miller Band, "On The Bugged Tip" by Big Daddy Kane and "Rebel Without A Pause" by Public Enemy.
- The line "They can be cold and ruthless, no question about that, but sometimes it's more complicated than that" from "Quiet On The Set" samples a line from CBS 48 Hours Mystery: A Crime Story in the LA.
- "Something 2 Dance 2" samples D-Train's "You're The One For Me", "Dance To The Music" from Dance To The Music (1968) by Sly and the Family Stone, the quote "Calling the police, Calling the g-men/ Calling all Americans to war on the underworld" from the radio show "Gangbusters", and the Mighty Mouse theme song (the line "Here I come to save the day").
- "A Bitch Iz A Bitch" samples "Papa Was Too" by Joe Tex.
- Sean Connery Is About to Shoot You: Eazy-E on the album cover.
Girl: But you said you loved me!Cube: I don't see no rings on this finger.
- Ice Cube raps in the title track that he has a crime record like Charles Manson.
- "Fuck Tha Police" was referenced in Kanye West's "All Fall Down", Ice-T's "Cop Killer", The Game's "Doctor's Advocate" and Lil Wayne's "Mrs. Officer".
- "Gangsta Gangsta" disses Nancy Reagan's "Just Say "No"" campaign against drugsWe don't just say no, we too busy sayin' yeah!
About drinkin' straight out the eight bottle
- "If It Ain't Ruff":The Hulk was incredible yo, but Ren he was super
- "8 Ball" namedrops Marvin Gaye and the rap group C.I.A., of which Ice Cube was a member before he joined N.W.A.Put in the old tape Marvin Gaye's greatest hits
(...) Hail to the nigga's from C.I.A.
- "Something Like That" references Matt Dillon and Gunsmoke.And strapped with a gat, it's more like Matt Dillon
On "Gunsmoke", but not a man of the law
- "Compton's In The House" references boxer Mike Tyson and The Twilight Zone.But it's some shit from a nigga in black it's much worse
Than a beat from Tyson cuz Ren is not nice and
(...) That's standing in the zone of the twilight
- "I Ain't Tha 1" references "Wild Thing" by The Troggs.And after the date I wanna do the wild thing
- At the end of the song, there's a reference to an Eddie Murphy standup routine.
- "Straight Out Of Surrey" is a parody of this album by Mr B The Gentleman Rhymer.
- "Straight Outta Lynwood" (2006) is a parody title by "Weird Al" Yankovic.
- Tupac Shakur sampled "Straight Outta Compton", "Fuck Tha Police" and "Gangsta Gangsta" on his album 2Pacalypse Now and Oasis did the same on their song "D'You Know What I Mean" on "Be Here Now". Eminem sampled "A Bitch Is A Bitch" on "Without Me" from his album "The Eminem Show".
- The Dutch hip-hop band Osdorp Posse took a literal translation from the line "If you fuck with me I'll put my foot in your ass" from "Gangsta Gangsta" in their own song "Kort Maar Krachtig". They also literally translated the line "straight from the 'underground'" from "Fuck Tha Police" on several of their tracks.
- "A Glitch Is A Glitch" is the title of an episode of Adventure Time spoofing the song title of "A Bitch Is A Bitch".
- Singer Name Drop: At the start of the album.
- Smoking Is Not Cool: "Express Yourself", ironically rapped by Dr. Dre, who is a notorious marihuana smoker.I still express, yo I don't smoke weed or sess
Cause it's known to give a brother brain damage
And brain damage on the mic don't manage nothing
But making a sucker and you equal, don't be another sequel
- Spoken Word in Music: "Fuck Tha Police" is done in the form of a story where the band members are brought to court and have to provide testimony about Police Brutality and racism against blacks. The interludes are skits where the cops come and arrest some black people.
- STD Immunity: Averted in "Dopeman":Strawberry, just look and you'll see her
But don't fuck around she'll give you gonorrhea
- Step Up to the Microphone: Arabian Prince raps on "Something 2 Dance 2".
- Stutter Stop: "Parental Discretion Iz Advised"C-C-C-Camera's are flashing when I'm in action
- Surprisingly Gentle Song: In a way of speaking... "Express Yourself" is one of the few NWA tracks to almost completely lack profanity. It was made because they needed something that radio stations could play.
- Take That!:
- "Fuck Tha Police", against the police.
- "Dopeman" against drug dealers.
- "A Bitch Is A Bitch" against bitches.Now the title bitch don't apply to all women
But all women have a little bitch in 'em
- "Compton's In The House" has a diss against Romeo and Master Rhyme, who had a song called "Crackerjack" with the last line: "What do you call a crew that can rock like that? You call that crew a Crackerjack":Yeah I'm tired of these mothafuckerz runnin' around town, talkin' about
They're from Compton and shit, tryin' to get on the bandwagon ...
Yeah Dre, I know what you're sayin' man, but let's tell 'em who we're
Talkin' about ...
WHAT DO YOU CALL A CREW THAT CAN RAP LIKE THAT ...?
Yo NWA call 'em muthafuckaz wack...
[Yeah you know what time it iz, listen to why we call 'em wack]
They got a wacky wack record with o' wacky wack crews
Yo what about the lyrics?
That shit's wacky wack too
With a fucked up style and a fucked up show
Hey yo Ren, what about the scratchin', is it def? Fuck no!
The mothafuckin' record is a mothafuckin' wack
The mothafuckin' cracka jack needs to step the fuck back ...
- "Something Like That" also disses their rivals:Never sayin' I'm the best and just goin' for mine
Unlike a lotta suckers who claim they're gettin' busy
When their records only make good frisbees
You need to stop runnin' off the mouth
Stop and think before you put some whack bullshit out
It's not difficult, in fact it's kinda simple
To create something funky that's original
You need to talk about the place to be
Who you are, what you got, or about a sucker MC
- Think of the Children!: "Parental Discretion Iz Advised"I get low on the flow so let your kids know
When I bust, parental discretion is a must
- Title Track:Straight Outta Compton, crazy motherfucker named Ice Cube
From the gang called Niggas With Attitudes.
- Trunk Shot: The band on the album cover.
- Villainous Breakdown: "Fuck Tha Police" closes with the police department being convicted by the band.Dre: The jury has found you guilty of being a redneck, white bread, chickenshit motherfucker!!
Cop: Wait- That's a lie! That's a god damn lie!
Dre: Get him out of here!
Cop: I want justice!
Dre: Get him the fuck out of my face!
Cop: I want justice!
Dre: Out, right NOW!!!
Cop: FUCK YOU, YOU BLACK MOTHER-FUCKERRRRRRRRRRRRS!!!