Compton's In The House!
August 16, 2006 5:21 PM   Subscribe

gangstaRapFilter: On a whim the other week, I picked up N.W.A's 'Straight Outta Compton' and now I can't stop listening to it. I want to hear more music like this!

This is basically about as far as one can get from the industrial/electro/synthpop/goth that I've been listening to for forever, but for some reason I actually "get" it.

The wiki for Eazy-E educated me enough to kinda know what to look for, such as the early stuff from Eazy, Dr. Dre, The D.O.C., MC Ren & so on. But I want more!

Any suggestions? Bonus points for def rhymes & scratching, sparse beats, promotion of killing cops and territoriality.
posted by starscream to Media & Arts (41 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
South Central Cartel, Tupac (2Pac), Ice Cube, Cypress Hill, Master P ... it's actually going to be a narrow genre if you want only the good stuff.

Check out Allmusic's guide to Gangsta Rap and Golden Age hip hop. You'll want to stay West Coast but not delve into the G-Funk era (Snoop Dogg, et al). You have Dr. Dre's Chronic right? It's not strictly Gangsta Rap but probably one of the best rap albums ever. It's like Eagle's Greatest Hits only for rap.
posted by geoff. at 5:25 PM on August 16, 2006

I would recommend one single (THE single) from Ren's prodigy: CPO's Ballad of a Menace. Also: Kid Frost, definitely the DOC, EPMD, DJ Quik, Geto Boys, etc.
posted by mattbucher at 5:26 PM on August 16, 2006

If you're really just hearing NWA you won't especially need to hunt out obscure stuff, unlike most AskMeMusic qs. Go for the hits.

Cop Killer's next up then, by Ice-T and Body Count.
Find Enter The Wu Tang (36 Chambers), and buy that, too. Cypress Hill talk about killing cops and gang mentality, but they're probably not quite what you're looking for. Try their first eponymous album, though, especially for (How I Could Just) Kill A Man
posted by bonaldi at 5:28 PM on August 16, 2006

I gotta tell you, another great thing is to get the mashups of the old gangsta rap with your favorite songs. I've got a mashup of "Straight Outta Compton" with "Smells Like Teen Spirit." Look it up. It's all over the net.
posted by rileyray3000 at 5:32 PM on August 16, 2006

Oh wait, you absolutely want DJ P's magnum opus: Azzholez And Elbowz- Gangsta Mix Vol. 1:

"Damn, it feels good to be a gangster... Originally released in 2000, D.J.P Re-released this album in 2005 with new artwork (by your favorite webmaster). This album is a mix of all of the best gangsta shit from the early to mid 1990's. Featuring tracks from Too $hort, Spice 1, and NWA, and it also includes samples from all your favorite gangster flicks including Boyz N The Hood and GoodFellas. Drop the rag-top, take a sip of the potion and hit the 3 wheel motion."

He was doing mashups before they were mashups (and he does them all on the turntable, old school style). Really a great DJ and this album is amazing and really is a great overview of the genre, here is a partial listing:

NWA - Gangsta Gangsta
Warren G - Regulate
Cypress Hill - Hand on the Bum
MC B - I Ain't Be Fucked
DJ Quick - Sweet Black Pussy
AMG - Bitch Betta Have My Money
2Pac - My Homey's Call
Ice Cube - Nigga You Love
NWA - Hundred Miles and Running
Ice-T - Colors
Spice 7 - 187 Proof
King Tee - Ruff Rhymes
Doc - Mind Blowing
Easy E - Ruthless Villian
CMW - This is Compton
Mad Flava - Puta Ya
Ice Cube - Jackin' Beats
X-Clan - Heed the Word
Big Daddy Kane - Raw
Kid Sensation - Here
King T - Diss You
Eric B - Juice
Paris - Break the Grip
CMW - I Give up Nothing
E-40 Captain Save a Ho
Doc - Let the Bass Go
Outkast - Leevators
CMW - Its a Compton Thing
posted by geoff. at 5:33 PM on August 16, 2006

I know this isn't strictly answering the question, but you'll probably get a good laugh out of the explicit content only version of the album.
posted by O9scar at 5:41 PM on August 16, 2006

Have you checked out Pandora or These sites allow you to enter a song you like, and then automatically find similar songs for you.
posted by lunchbox at 5:44 PM on August 16, 2006

If you like NWA's "Straight outta Compton", then you have to hear Nina Gordon's version.

posted by gregvr at 5:45 PM on August 16, 2006

The only other releases that captured lightning in a bottle like Straight outta Compton was...wait for it

Public Enemy- It takes a Nation of millions to hold us back well as their follow up Fear of a black planet.

also essential, I am seconding the Geto Boys first LP as well as seconding Cypress Hill's debut

Dre's Chronic also very strong, DOC's first platter b4 he got his voice box crushed.

plus if you spread your wings the Wu Tang's 36 chambers is also gritty and holds up.
posted by stavx at 5:46 PM on August 16, 2006

I second NWA's 100 Miles and Runnin' if you haven't already found that one. Hooooly shit, that one still gets me fired up. It was on an EP, I think, not a regular album. My favorite Dre line was "So while you treat my group like dirt, your whole fuckin' fam'ly is wearin' my t-shirt" Ahhhh! Yes! And Eazy E describes himself as "a little sprintin' motherfucker that they won't catch." Very nice. This was after Ice Cube left the group and I'm not sure they did much after this.

I also liked the Geto Boys back around then. "Ah man, homie. My mind is playin' tricks on me." And another good line from that song was "Is it that fool that I ran out the block/ or is it that nigga last week that I shot / or is the one I beat for five thousand dollas / thought he had 'cane but it was Gold Medal Flour (pronounced fläuw-uh)". Wheee! Lots of rich street themes in their music, you know, killing people and whatnot. Plus one was a dwarf who got shot in the eye, I believe. Plus they sampled Easy Like Sunday Morning in another song. Ah, Lionel, if you had only known your velvet tones would one day underpin a ghetto funeral dirge with awful grammar...
posted by kookoobirdz at 5:50 PM on August 16, 2006

2Pac (and friends) "California". I have a soft spot in my heart for this one, as I, indeed, wear Chucks, not Ballys.
posted by thanotopsis at 5:57 PM on August 16, 2006

It sounds like you're aiming for a specific, West Coast, early '90s kinda gangsta music--a world of borrowed R&B hooks (George Clinton occupies the same position in this era that James Brown did in golden-age east-coast rap), chronic smoke, lazy disaffection, Cali drawls, etc.

Besides some of the folks already mentioned, you might enjoy Compton's Most Wanted, Above the Law, MC Eiht, the first Snoop album, the first couple Ice Cube albums, the first couple Tupac albums... here's the thing, though. Much of this stuff isn't very good. And if you're into appreciating bad gangsta rap, ironically or otherwise, well, we could talk about it all day. But if you want only the chronic, so to speak, even a list of a dozen records might be stretching things.

Also, if you're looking for semi-obscure DJ mixtapes, try to find Kobra Kai's Beltway-sniper themed opus, released under the name Kool J Muhammad and DJ Malvo.
posted by box at 5:59 PM on August 16, 2006

Here's a third, fourth, whatever for:
Geto Boyz first album. Still as brutal as ever.
Cypress Hill's first and second album.
First two Public Enemy albums. (Not true Gangsta rap but their first album did get painted with that brush)

Also just random thoughts: Not all Ice Cube albums are the same- his first solo is the gold standard in my opinion

The other "Ice" Ice-T. His best IMO was "Freedom of Speech" although it hasn't held up as well to time.

As noted above, it actually is a narrow genre if you only focus on the great stuff . . .
posted by jeremias at 6:05 PM on August 16, 2006

I picked up N.W.A's 'Straight Outta Compton' and now I can't stop listening to it.
The reason for this is that the album is fucking awesome.

I just dropped in to second geoff.'s list (or, at least, the stuff on it with which I am familiar), which is about as good a primer on this kind of music as one could ask for. Great response!
posted by Dr. Wu at 6:06 PM on August 16, 2006

Eric B. and Rakim is pretty good stuff.
posted by Doofus Magoo at 6:13 PM on August 16, 2006

You may also enjoy the soundtrack to Menace II Society. And I heartily recommend Ice-T's Original Gangster and BodyCount's eponymous album.
posted by birdsquared at 6:19 PM on August 16, 2006

not gansta rap, but since someone else said it, i'll second public enemy. fear of a black planet is also really good.
posted by lester at 6:24 PM on August 16, 2006

Public Enemy- It takes a Nation of millions to hold us back - YESSS

If you want to go really old school, try Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five - The Message - that is some 1982 style righteous hip hop, open your mind, get your body moving, with an angry undertone, overall goodness.
posted by caddis at 6:29 PM on August 16, 2006

What fond memories I have of being 18 and riding around with my friends listening to Straight Outta Compton. Ah, youth.

Too Short -- "Life is"
Arguably the originator

Boogie Down Productions -- "Criminal Minded" The MJQ of gangsta rap -- spare and devastating. One of my favorites.

On my current workout playlist I have "U Wanna Be Me" by Nas (8 Mile Soundtrack) which is absolutely beautiful.

Wanna be me,
you can't you faggot, you bitch, you coward, you clown,
you just wanna be down
So you - wanna be me,
you bitch, you phony, you clone me, you wanna be me son, I'm the one and only
But you - wanna be me,
you suckers, you weak, you flunkies, you fake, you couldn't come close on my worst day
But you - wanna be me,
I burn you and learn you a lesson
Concernin this mic profession, turn your direction
You can't be me.

posted by Methylviolet at 6:39 PM on August 16, 2006

Ice-T's Original Gangster is quite possibly the best of the genre, maybe better than The Chronic (I said it, what?!)

Spice 1 is often overlooked. As stated somewhere up there, 187 Proof is an awesome song.

Above The Law, specifically Uncle Sam's Curse.

I can't stress 2Pac enough...the whole catalog but particularly everything before he "died"

Cypress Hill's first CD (called Cypress Hill) is also a hip-hop classic.

Ice Cube upto Leathal Injection, AmeriKKKa's Most wanted is probably his best work.

Scarface The Diary is a classic.

The Geto Boys are the progenitors of southern rap. We Can't be stopped is a must.

Public Enemy doesn't really belong on the "gangstaRapFilter" as they stand against that sort of thing, that being said, they are awesome.

On the non-gangsta (and arguably better) side we have other awesome rappers/groups.
Pete Rock & CL Smooth
Eric B & Rakim (I was just listening to that shit yesterday, still gets me going.)
Tribe Called Quest
Big Daddy Kane
posted by thefinned1 at 6:49 PM on August 16, 2006

Shit, I forgot quite possibly the best rap album ever.
Nas - Illmatic
posted by thefinned1 at 6:49 PM on August 16, 2006

Body Count? Public Enemy? There seems to be some confusion about exactly what qualifies as 'gangsta rap.'
posted by box at 6:52 PM on August 16, 2006

Schooly D.
posted by rxrfrx at 6:55 PM on August 16, 2006

Definately some Public Enemy. Apocalypse '91 was great, I thought.
posted by unixrat at 6:57 PM on August 16, 2006

I second Above the Law, specifically the track "Untouchable."
posted by mattbucher at 7:04 PM on August 16, 2006

By the way, has anyone noticed that Ice Cube references James Brown's album/track "The Payback" in the first line of the first track of each of his solo albums?
posted by mattbucher at 7:07 PM on August 16, 2006 [1 favorite]

If folks are going to nitpickbitch on what is gangsta rap and that Public Enemy isn't it bla bla bla then yes you are technically right. It isn't west coast and it isn't ghetto----- PE was middle class, non sexist etc etc.

So of course PE and NWA are on paper diametrically opposed.

But I think PE and NWA have a lot in common in spirit and that is revolutionary musical production, lyrics, delivery and A N G E R & R A G E ---- whether it is deemed positive or negative--- both groups are angry about the world they see around just doesn't give a fuck and one by giving a fuck thought they could change improve their lot.

Dre and the bomb squad mined unique samples and totally fuckin schooled everyone else.
posted by stavx at 7:20 PM on August 16, 2006

Body Count? Public Enemy? There seems to be some confusion about exactly what qualifies as 'gangsta rap.'

Yeah. PE -- totally not gansta. But, I guess it depends on the real point of the question. In terms of beats and melodies, tracks like "100 miles and runnin'" are still hard to beat all these years later; that track completely kicks me in the head every time. And on that level, Terminator X can cut a record like no other, so I could see the original poster being into Public Enemy as well as NWA. He should give it a listen down at the local CD shop at any rate.

If you're getting into lyrical content, on the other hand, of course you are completely right and the two are nothing at all alike. If you're really into NWA's rhymes, whether earnestly, ironically, academically, or whatever, then yes, PE is diametrically opposed.
posted by rkent at 7:23 PM on August 16, 2006

Funny, us debating how gangsta Public Enemy was or wasn't. Anyhoo, their very first album Yo! Bum Rush the Show came out in 1987 and did get lumped into the emerging gangsta rap category. The beats on that album are spare, great scratching by Terminator X, relentless wordflow by Chuck D- and they had already staked out some of the political territory that they are now known for. But in 1987, with a song like "Sophisticated Bitch" you can see why they might be termed "gangsta".

Last verse of Sophisticated Bitch:

Little is known about her past
So listen to me cause I know her ass
Used to steal money out her boyfriends clothes
Never got caught - so the story goes
She kept doin' that to all her men
Found the wrong man when she did it again
And still to this day people wonder why
He didn't beat the bitch down till she almost died

posted by jeremias at 7:50 PM on August 16, 2006

Ice T and Body Count are a joke and always have been. Don't waste your time. Stick with the Cube. Also, fuck Cypress Hill. They are a gimmick, and a bunch of talentless stoner hacks.

You've asked a bunch of white boys for rap recommendations, and the answers are gonna be pretty predictable. We don't know what we're talking about. That said, yeah, you'll like Public Enemy. They ain't gangstra, but still they got flava. And you'll be pretty happy if you just follow the career of Dr. Dre. Everything he attached himself to turned gold, and for a good reason.
posted by team lowkey at 8:50 PM on August 16, 2006

let me second or third Nas's Illmatic along with Erik B and Rakim. Also check out pretty much anything by Notorious BIG. There's a great clip of a live show you can find pretty easily with him doing some freestyle with Tupac, Big Daddy Kane, and a couple of other guys.

Also, look for MTV's Behind the Mic (or something) with Kanye West. He plays a lot of obscure tracks that he grew up listening to and some of them just blew me away, particularly 93 to Infinity by Souls of Mischief.

Here's a sample of that freestyle:

I got seven Mack 11's, about eight 38's
Nine 9's, ten mack tens, the shits never ends
You can't touch my riches
Even if you had MC Hammer and them 357 bitches
Biggie Smalls; the millionare, the mansion, the yacht
The two weed spots, the two hot glocks
That's how I got the weed spot
I shot dread in the head, took the bread and the lamb spread
Little Gotti got the shotty to your body
So don't resist, or you might miss Christmas
I tote guns, I make number runs
I give mc's the runs drippin
when I throw my clip in the AK, I slay from far away
Everybody hit the D-E-C-K
My slow flow's remarkable, peace to Matteo
Now we smoke weed like Tony Montana sniffed the yeyo
That's crazy blunts, mad L's
My voice excels from the avenue to jail cells
Oh my God, I'm droppin shit like a pigeon
I hope you're listenin, smackin babies at they christening
posted by feloniousmonk at 10:40 PM on August 16, 2006

iTMS actually has an updated version of 93 till Infinity with Kanye West, in addition to a live version of the original. The Kanye version is pretty good.
posted by feloniousmonk at 10:49 PM on August 16, 2006

And also, the above excerpt shows up on BIG's track Come On.
posted by feloniousmonk at 10:55 PM on August 16, 2006

Getting in here a bit late, but I just want to toss my hat in for Ice Cube's "Death Certificate" ... absolutely brilliant and exactly what you're looking for, based on the question.
posted by dead_ at 6:39 AM on August 17, 2006

Ice T, Body Count - no way. I bought that when it first came out and I was so, so disappointed. It will make you laugh though.

Straight Outta Compton, simply put, is genius. I have a kind of visceral reaction to it, and have from the moment I first heard it.

Agree with Tupac and Public Enemy, and check out the mashups. Dre's Chronic, also very good. But none of it is good in excactly the same way, if you know what I mean. It's not the same as, say, I love The Smiths and also early Cure.

I should add that I'm not an expert in this area of music, I'm just similar to you in that I think Straight Outta Compton is crazy amazing.
posted by KAS at 7:26 AM on August 17, 2006

If you can find the soundtrack, the tracks from the hip hop station in GTA: San Andreas are a perfect primer for what you're after... but yeah, NWA rules.
posted by sluggo at 7:45 AM on August 17, 2006

Second Schooly D. The beginning of gangster rap. And it happened on the East Coast, no less. Predates any West Coast gangsters by a couple of years.
posted by msbrauer at 8:01 AM on August 17, 2006

The brilliance, in my not so humble opinion, of Straight Outta Compton was Ice Cube's lyrics matched with Dr. Dre's production and Eazy E's flow. You must listen to "No Vaseline" off of Death Certificate in order to fully appreciate the beef between Eazy-E and Cube, all of Cube's output up until the War & Peace albums is decent, although the Greatest Hits package that's available avoids most of his best songs in favor of Club and Radio hits. You should own a copy of Dr. Dre's The Chronic, the rest of his catalog is hit or miss for me. As to Eazy... I'd find a used copy of Eazy-Duz-It or hunt it down p2p style, it's interesting, but both the production and lyrics aren't nearly as good as Cube or Dre's post N.W.A output.

Finally, there's always N.W.A.'s followup album (sans Cube, who gets called out in track 8) efil4zaggin, which these days includes the 100 Miles and Runnin' EP and switches the name around to Niggaz4life. Oh, an avoid their older album N.W.A and the Posse unless you're looking to laugh at the absurdity.
posted by togdon at 8:09 AM on August 17, 2006

There's some amazing amazing answers here, gang! I see myself spending a lot at the local record shop this weekend :)

I've got a lot of learning/catching up to do in this genre; thanks everyone for taking the time to answer!
posted by starscream at 9:29 AM on August 17, 2006

I wouldn't call NWA and the Posse "absurd." There are some great tracks on there. Boyz n the hood, Dope Man, 8-ball, 3 the hard way, etc. Eazy-E and NWA reprised/referenced all that stuff on Straight Outta Compton and EZ Duz it. I also have a soft spot for that Drink it up song.
posted by mattbucher at 9:42 AM on August 17, 2006

Also, fuck Cypress Hill. They are a gimmick, and a bunch of talentless stoner hacks.

They are a gimmicky bunch of talentless stoner hacks, but they were an edgy, credible, creative group. Their debut is good. After that . . . well, you basically nailed it.
posted by chrchr at 10:14 AM on August 17, 2006

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