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Posted Aug 25th, 2015 (3:16 pm) by Katie Antonsson

N.W.A. are getting a lot of money and acclaim from "Straight Outta Compton" and it's kind of a problem.

Anybody who knows anything about hip-hop history knows that N.W.A. were instrumental in the development of the genre and the growth of a specific West Coast hip-hop style. Those who don't already know that are now learning that through "Straight Outta Compton" (the film has grossed over $111 million since opening on August 14). It's a great thing, because a lot of these early hip-hop artists get overlooked in the wake of what hip-hop has become. It's important to take a look back to hip-hop's beginnings in order to understand how it became what it is today. That's pretty much what Kendrick Lamar did with To Pimp a Butterfly, and there's no denying how tight that album is.

Unsurprisingly, the release of "Compton" has sparked an interested in N.W.A., and the group's music has taken over the charts, landing N.W.A. their first-ever Top 40 spot. Even though "Straight Outta Compton" (the song) was released in 1988, Billboard claims the song "is allowed to enter this week's Hot 100, as older songs are eligible to chart if ranking in the top 50 and showing notable gains in sales, streaming and/or airplay."

All of this, however, is kind of a problem.

A lot of the true history of N.W.A. has been overlooked for film making's sake. Just as Dr. Dre's ex Michel'le said this weekend, it's all just a big PR move for the film and for the group. N.W.A. are profiting big time from this movie, and it wouldn't serve to have the true story come to light, especially considering how much of the audience isn't familiar with N.W.A.'s origins. The group's work is fundamentally sexist and homophobic, a style of hip-hop writing that solidified a misogynistic mindset that remains in the genre today. It also remains a major problem. Vox's Alex Abad-Santos writes:

If hip-hop is about truth, then the truth for these men at this point in their lives was that women were, at best, disposable sex toys or, at worst, conniving traps. And it's not like Dr. Dre and Ice Cube weren't influential or their misogynistic lyrics weren't a huge part of their success. The popularity of these lyrics crystallized an idea of robbing humanity from black women — something that artists after them (including Dre's protégés) would mimic.

So, great. N.W.A., a fundamentally important group to the development of hip-hop, are coming back to the forefront of the genre, but the problems are just as smoothed-over as ever. A lot was swept under the rug for audience satisfaction, but it's only pissing us off more. Doesn't Hollywood know by now that we're smart enough to smell the lies?

Then again, there's never really been a good answer for why misogyny and violence are somehow acceptable in hip-hop. Every hip-hop scholar has a different answer and none has a conclusion. But maybe with the visibility of "Compton" and the renaissance of N.W.A., we should start figuring out a conclusion so we can stop pretending that these mindsets are actually okay.

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