N.W.A.’s Straight Out Of Compton turned 25 a few days ago. As remarkably cutting edge as the album was*, I still always found Cube’s first, post-N.W.A. foray, Amerikkka’s Most Wanted, to be more important.
You had this guy breaking ties with his group while it was at its peak, going across country – unheard of at the time and requiring him to physically move since this was before “mail-it-in music” we get today – to unite with The Bomb Squad** ***, who, along with Public Enemy, represented the antithesis of everything N.W.A., and creating a album that qualified as perfect as soon as it released. Cube set rap on its ear with this one, changing the sound and tone for a lot of music that followed.
The album dropped in May of 1990 and there was no escaping it. No matter your age, style, listening preferences, etc., Cube and The Bomb Squad crafted a project that landed in the middle of everything that was going on in rap at that moment. It was filled with “street knowledge” but had an air of consciousness that helped it gain critical praise. Hank Shocklee, Eric Sadler and co. did strip away the familiar West Coast funk; instead they added multiple samples and layers to it – as heard on “The Nigga You Love To Hate” – in typical Bomb Squad fashion. The album was a little of everything, it was omnipresent and Cube was Amerikkka’s Most Wanted in both the figurative and literal sense.
* – That’s not to downplay Straight Out Of Compton. This just my Soundtrack write-up so…yeah, I like Cube’s debut more.
** — Even though he wasn’t with the group, Cube originally still wanted Dr. Dre to produce his solo album. According to the Hon. O’Shea, Dre was even down to do it. However, the label wasn’t having it.
*** — Recording with The Bomb Squad wasn’t the original plan. While in NYC, Cube started out trying to find Sam Sever, a producer who had previously worked with 3rd Bass. Sever missed an agreed upon meeting…and, in hindsight, the opportunity of a lifetime.