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.”

Once a Crazy MF, now makes kids' movies

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!”


About russellwriter

Rob Russell is a dad, husband, writer, musician, educator, comic book reader, bad solderer, pop culture junky, trivia buff and student of everything cool and uncool. His favorite records are Bob Dylan's Blonde on Blonde and, currently, The Best of Bobbie Gentry: The Capitol Years. His favorite comic books are Kurt Busiek's Astro City and Neil Gaiman's Sandman. His favorite literary novels are Gabrial Garcia Marquez's 100 Years of Solitude and William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying. His favorite genre novels are John Scalzi's Red Shirts, M.R. Carrey's The Girl with All the Gifts, and Dan Simmons' Drood. His favorite movie is Goodfellas. His favorite hobby, besides everything, is writing about himself and his favorite things in the third person.

Posted on April 22, 2011, in 30 Songs, Pop Culture, Rock and Roll. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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