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N.W.A. and The Posse (1987)

December 22, 2011

Roll: 6-8-17
Album: N.W.A. and The Posse

A few posts back I wrote about a trip to Europe in the summer of 1989 when I discovered acid house and EBM. This was also the summer I finally got my mitts on a copy of NME for the first time.

To my seventeen-year-old self, it was a mythical tome of cutting-edge, taste-making music journalism which I’d only knew of via hearsay and rumour. Of course, it was but another cog in the giant machine that’s the music industry, but naturally I was more idealistic back then.

And thankfully so. There was something magical about taking NME’s sensationalized accounts of N.W.A.’s violent, anti-white, race hatred attitudes at face value and not seeing it as shallow media hype. For the whole summer I think I was sincerely afraid N.W.A. were going to spearhead a race war in North America. It might seem like a cartoonishly paranoid middle-class  fear but I went to a Canadian high school where there only two black students and none in my own grade. My only conception of young American black men came from Public Enemy rhymes. Angry and militant and not too fond of whitey.

Of course, all that resulted from NME’s fear-mongering was that the moment I set foot on Canadian soil again, I hunted down the Straight Outta Compton tape. I was pretty stoked to find an import copy since I had it in my head it’d been banned in the United States due to “Fuck Tha Police“.

As far as I know, it hadn’t been banned. But at the time that was part of the mystique and I wasn’t going to believe otherwise. It was, and perhaps still is, the most punk rock record I’d ever heard. I have what now seems an incongruous memory of sitting in my Chevette  at lunch hour with jazz singer Brooke Maxwell marveling at N.W.A.’s ferocious audacity as it blasted out my tiny, practically bassless, speakers.

For years I thought Straight Outta Compton was the group’s debut album, but it wasn’t exactly. The previous year Macola Records  released a sort of sampler of Eazy-E‘s Ruthless Records‘ future roster under the title N.W.A. and The Posse. That pressing included the Dr. Dre produced track, “Scream“, by a crew with the unfortunate (or amazing) monicker Rappinstine. This Ruthless reissue replaces that jam with the infamous, and frankly inferior, N.W.A. track, “A Bitch Iz a Bitch“.

Really, nothing on N.W.A. and The Posse approaches the bar that would be set by Straight Outta Compton and more than met by The D.O.C.‘s No One Can Do It Better. But few hip-hop and gansta rap albums do.

Still—as has been said about this album enough times to make this whole review pointless—this compilation is a fascinating, if not entirely essential, piece of N.W.A., Easy-E, and Dr. Dre history. Good for a chuckle here, a cringe there and even a genuine head-bob or two.

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