Day 13 – A Song that is a Guilty Pleasure: "Straight Outta Compton"
“Straight Outta Compton” – N.W.A.
The nerd-approved 80s rap choice would have been Public Enemy, and when the two were actually up against one another in record stores and music mags, PE was what was playing on my VW’s cassette player (“Welcome to the Terrordome”). But for a guilty pleasure — no way: I’ve got to go with “Straight Outta Compton.” It’s practically steaming with guilt: it’s misogynistic, excessively violent, pornographic, exploitative … and such a catchy tune! “When I’m called off / I got a sawed-off / I squeeze the trigger and bodies are hauled off.”
So, what makes “Straight Outta Compton” so completely awesome and guilty pleasure worthy? It’s raw, it’s angry, it feels real (whether it’s authentic or not is something for the experts to argue), and the backing track is tense and hypnotic: Public Enemy’s elaborate sirens, drones and samples are stripped down to the pure Id by Dr. Dre. The fact that the raps are filled with so much profanity that they are damn near pornographic adds to the frightening reality of the version of the LA neighborhood the song describes. Like Brian DePalma’s Scarface, it’s not great or incredibly original pop art, but it’s pop art that’s hard to tear yourself away from. To use yet another metaphor: It’s not like watching a car wreck — it’s like watching an Andy Warhol-and Charles Manson co-production of an 18 car pile up … “coming straight outta Compton!”