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Gangsta started here.
on 23 March 2008
For the vast majority of artists, a greatest hits or best of collection is the ideal entry point into their catalogue. For NWA, that's not the case. As influential as they were, if you're a casual fan, it's not the greatest hits you want, it's Straight Outta Compton, the rap landmark that basically brought gangsta to the mainstream. Somewhat uniquely, This Greatest Hits collection is really much more for the fans than the passers by, featuring as it does a number of skits, songs and mixes that were previously unavailable.
The cuts from Compton are all classics, although some would have enjoyed the inclusion of, for example, 'Parental Discretion Iz Advised,' or even pre-album single 'Boyz N The Hood,' written for Eazy-E by Ice Cube. What's more, somewhat annoyingly, Compton's title track and 'Express Yourself' are both present as remixes rather than their original mixes. 'Compton' in particular has all its momentum ruined by random inserts that add nothing to the song and don't actually give an impression of the impact of its big drumbeat and squalling brass. 'Gangsta, Gangsta' is mercifully intact and shows just how playful NWA were at the time, spinning off into a totally different direct three and a half minutes in - something modern rap artists are mostly afraid to do.
From that point on, it was mostly downhill for NWA. Most importantly, Ice Cube quit and things were never quite the same. However almost all of NWA's best post-Cube moments are collected on this hits collection - although notably absent is 'Appetite For Destruction,' a single, showing this is not in fact a greatest hits - with the two most important being '100 Miles And Runnin'' and 'Real N****z Don't Die.' The latter is the opener to the band's second and final album 'Efil4Zaggin,' and its spiralling, apocalyptic beat shows just how ahead of his time Dr. Dre was even as early as 1991. The former is arguably NWA's greatest song, the sound of NWA doing a James Bond theme with a random Motown sample thrown in for good measure.
Also included are two NWA 'reunion' tracks, with Eazy-E obviously being absent having passed away in the 1990s. Snoop Dogg's inclusion seems a bit off-colour considering what he was saying about Eazy after the break-up, and in truth, neither track lives up to anything NWA did before and they aren't worth including.
Indeed, this compilation isn't really worth including in your record collection if you aren't already a hardcore fan - if you only want one NWA record, then make it Straight Outta Compton instead.