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6 N.W.A Songs That Spoke About The Reality Of Being Black In America

This post is part of a weekly series celebrating #ThrowbackThursday with reflections of our favorite childhood memories, past pop culture moments and more!

N.W.A. pushed the envelope like no other rap group.

Members Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, DJ Yella and MC Ren — the latter of whom replaced founding member Arabian Prince — were before their time. They questioned the law enforcement’s racially biased tactics in Los Angeles and were probably the voice of many black Americans at the time who felt overlooked and misunderstood. Nothing could censor these young Compton natives, including a FBI warning, arrest threats for performing police-bashing songs or general public criticism.

“Straight Outta Compton,” produced by Ice Cube and Dr. Dre, delves into the members’ kinship, music and finances. A prominent — and timely– theme the film touches on is the constant racial profiling of the group’s members by the police.

The police brutality of the late ’80s and early ’90s (i.e. the brutal beating of Rodney King in 1992), some of which is shown in the film, resonates with the problems the black community still faces today. So far in 2015, U.S. police and other law enforcement agencies have killed more than 700 people, according to “The Counted,” The Guardian’s database which records the number of people killed by the police nationwide. And almost 26 percent of those people were black.

For many, N.W.A’s music was a call for change and the soundtrack to a revolution. Before the biopic hits theaters on Aug. 14, let’s reminisce on a few classic tracks from the legendary hip-hop group and its individual members that are still all too real.

1. “Express Yourself” by N.W.A. (1988)

“I’m expressin’ with my full capabilities/and now I’m living in correctional facilities,” said Dr. Dre in the first verse. The song addresses the restrictive limits on language in the music industry for rappers, and the video shows how black people were often voiceless and punished when they spoke up.

2.”F**k Tha Police” by N.W.A. (1988)

This was possibly the most controversial song the group ever recorded. They gave a big bold middle finger to law enforcement for harassing them and others for either menial or non-existent offenses. The members chant the radical message of “f**k tha police” in the hook of the song to serve as a possible anthem for black people living in South Central LA.

3. “Straight Outta Compton” by N.W.A. (1988)

“See I don’t really care, that’s the problem/I see a police, I don’t dodge him,” said Eazy-E in the song. This “rep yo set” anthem for Compton set the tone for what to expect from N.W.A.’s first album.

4. “Dopeman” by N.W.A. (1988)

The ugly truth about the drug dealing business from the dopeman’s perspective is revealed in this song. The group discourages using or dealing drugs by highlighting the highs and lows of the dopeman’s life — from the women who love him for his money to the man who threatens his life for selling crack to his sister.

5. “Lil’ Ghetto Boy” by Dr. Dre (1994)

After leaving N.W.A., Dr. Dre teamed up with Snoop Dogg for his debut solo album “The Chronic.” Dre’s verse in “Lil’ Ghetto Boy,” depicts the struggles a formerly incarcerated black man faces when he reenters the world on parole.

6. It Was A Good Day by Ice Cube (1992)

Ice Cube’s biggest hit from his album “The Predator” describes a typical day for him as a black man. In the song, he raps about how to cherish moments like chilling with your homies to enjoying your mom’s food to NOT get harassed by the police. Now that’s a good day.

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