The mid-1980s to the mid-1990s was the golden era of hip-hop, with Eric B, Rakim, Juice Crew, Boogie Down Production, NWA, and many others leading the movement. NWA's story started way back in 1987 when Compton-based legendary rapper and Ruthless Records owner, Eazy-E, brought Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, DJ Yella, and Arabian Prince to form the group we know today as 'the world's most dangerous group.' Even though their highly controversial debut album, Straight Outta Compton, was banned from many mainstream radio stations due to its lyrical content, they still managed to sell over ten million units in the US alone. Its follow-up, Efil4zaggin, also provoked the ire of liberal and conservative politicians around the country.
Sadly, their success didn't last forever. After Ice Cube left the group over royalties dispute in 1989, a series of unfortunate events started to hit the group hard. Dr. Dre, their most excellent producer, decided to depart the group and join Suge Knight's new force, Death Row Records. MC Ren, Eazy-E's longtime friend, also voiced his dislike against the founder, calling him a 'wannabe, big-headed mega-star.' The tension eased up when Eazy-E passed away from HIV/AIDS in 1995.
Fast forward to 2020; the group is now regarded as one of the most influential hip-hop groups of all time. Let's catch up with the rest of the members and what they've been up to today, in 15 pics.
15. Dr. Dre: Next To Jay-Z?
Moneywise, Dr. Dre is the most successful and shining member of them all. Besides his work as a rapper and a producer, Dre had also launched several savvy business investments, including his iconic Beats by Dre Dre, that was sold to Apple, Inc. in 2014 for 3 billion dollars. He's undoubtedly on his way to be one of the hip-hop billionaires, along with Jay-Z and Sean 'Diddy' Combs.
14. Ice Cube: Big3 Basketball Mini-League
On the other hand, Ice Cube, the group's most prolific songwriter, tried his luck in the basketball industry. He teamed up with entertainment executive Jeff Kwatinetz to launch their 3-on-3 basketball league, Big3, in 2017. As for now, however, the rap mogul has planned to launch a pre-season tournament consisted of 16 to 22 players from the original big3 who are negative for the coronavirus. The tournament will be held in Los Angeles, with all the players quarantined.
13. MC Ren: Quiet, Spiritual Years
These years have been quiet for MC Ren, who joined the Nation of Islam back in the early 1990s. He began attending mosques, and later known as Lorenzo X. His 1993 debut album, Shock of the Hour, was heavily influenced by the movement. In 2009, he released his fourth studio album, Reincarnated. However, after a couple of years in the organization, Lorenzo X decided to leave and converted to Sunni Islam.
12. DJ Yella: A Little Taste Of Reunion
DJ Yella, along with his NWA compatriots, rocked the stage of the 2016 Coachella Valley Music & Art Festival and introduced 'the strength of street knowledge' to millennial and Gen-Z kids. The four old mates played two of their biggest hits, Straight Outta Compton and F***k Tha Police, before blasting Dr. Dre's signature songs, California Love and Still D.R.E.
11. Dr. Dre: Godzilla
Via Lyrical Lemonade/YouTube
In 2020, Dr. Dre, along with legendary boxer Mike Tyson and Eminem's hype man Denaun Porter, made an appearance on Eminem's fast-paced music video, Godzilla. He played an actual doctor trying to save Eminem's life after Iron Mike jumped him and put him on a hospital bed. Until this article was written, the video has gained almost 80 million views in less than a month.
10. Ice Cube: Everythang's Corrupt
Via Ice Cube/YouTube
Talk about longevity. Ice Cube is undoubtedly, music-wise, the most active members of them all. In 2018, he brought back the taste of West Coast hip-hop on his tenth studio album, Everythang's Corrupt, with songs like Arrest The President, Everythang's Corrupt, and That New Funkadelic serving as its singles.
9. MC Ren: King Villain
In 2019, MC Ren gave a little teaser of his new music, King Villain, and sat down with Ambrosia For Heads to talk about the process. “I’m letting fools know they ain’t sh*t, they’re wack, and my sh*t is hard. I’ve got other [things coming], but for ‘King Villain,’ that’s the vibe I got from the beat…the beat was so different and moving,” he said. His son, Waxx, an aspiring rapper, engineered the tune.
8. DJ Yella: Around The World
Via Bay FM
These years, DJ Yella, real name Antoine Carraby, has been quietly touring around the world. In 2019, he and his hypeman, Playboy T, with turntablist DJ Shorty stopped in London, UK, and St. Gallen, Switzerland, to perform at rather smaller venues for true hip-hop fans.
7. Dr. Dre: The Defiant Ones
In 2017, Dr. Dre and the CEO of Interscope, Jimmy Iovine, released their four-part docu-series, The Defiant Ones, via HBO, which highlights on their careers and beautiful partnerships. The series starts with Dre's early days of his World Class Wreckin' Cru era and slowly proceeds to when he launched Aftermath and signed Eminem & 50 Cent, to when Apple bought his Beats company for 3 billion dollars.
6. Ice Cube: Cube Vs. Trump
Ice Cube is never afraid to be political. One of the singles of Everythang's Corrupt album, Arrest the President, Ice Cube launches a verbal attack against the current president of the US, Donald Trump. As the title of the song suggests, the Friday actor wishes arrest on Mr. President. "Man. I can't wait to see that, like that [Harvey] Weinstein in those handcuffs, man. That's a beautiful day," Cube told host Charlamagne Tha God of New York's 105.1 FM's "The Breakfast Club."
5. MC Ren: Rebel Music
MC Ren's upcoming extended play, Rebel Music, was set to be released way back in 2015, but he kept postponing the date. So far, only two singles have been released: burn radio burn featuring ice cube and a song with the same title as the album. California-based rapper and producer, E-A-Ski, is set to produce the project. It's been five years since its official announcement, but there are still no words from the Mad Scientist himself.
4. DJ Yella: Straight Outta Compton, 30 Years Later
In 2015, Inside Edition's Jim Moret sat down with DJ Yella to talk about Straight Outta Compton and how the album affects the industry decades after its release. "It's still relevant," the DJ said. "Racism will always be around ... Now everybody got a cellphone, and they can witness something new popping up."
3. Honorable Mention: Eazy-E
Without Eazy-E, there would never be NWA. He was the glue that connected all the dots, from Ice Cube's profiling songwriting skill to Dr. Dre's musical muse. He passed away in 1995 after suddenly diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. To this day, many fans believe that it was his nemesis Suge Knight, who poisoned the rapper with the virus. With Suge's massive criminal and notorious records, the theory seems very likely.
2. Honorable Mention: Arabian Prince
Via Ambrosia For Heads
If we talk about NWA, Arabian Prince's name can not be excluded from the conversation because he was one of the founding members. He left the group over royalty and contract disagreements in 1988, shortly after the release of Straight Outta Compton album. In 2018, he appeared on AmeriKKKant, the fourteenth studio album of industrial-metal Chicago-based band Ministry.
1. Their Legacy Lives Forever
All of the founding members are surely growing old, but their legacy and their impact live forever. Without NWA, we would never know half of the rap heavyweights we know today from Eminem to Kendrick Lamar. In 2016, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame embraced the group with Kendrick Lamar inducting his childhood idols. "We've come a long way from being so hated, even in the industry," Ice Cube said in his acceptance speech. "You can only stop yourself, and that's what got us here, and I'm very grateful and humbled tonight."