N.W.A gives classic rap style
by Dominic Vela

As with any era, the eighties has no shortage of icons. From Madonna to Michael Jackson to Bruce Springsteen, many different artists had an astronomical impact on the sights and sounds that composed this unforgettable decade for those who lived through it and now for those of us who are subjected to endless stories surrounding it.

There was, however, one genre of music that began a sort of meteoric rise to the top of society’s list and transformed America forever. I am talking, of course, about hip-hop.

Whether you prefer someone like Whodini or the on-stage bravado of a group like Run DMC, hip-hop began to send a very clear message that it was here to stay as a genre.

Straight Outta Compton was certified Triple Platinum in 2011, selling over 3 million copies.
Straight Outta Compton was certified Triple Platinum in 2011, selling over 3 million copies.

However, in early August 1988 in a lonely recording studio in Compton, California, five teenagers named Eric Wright, O’Shea Jackson, Antoine Carraby, Lorenzo Patterson and Andre Young released an album that forever transformed how the world saw rap music. These young artists, better known by their stage names as Eazy-E, Ice Cube, DJ Yella, MC Ren and Dr. Dre would obliterate the competition and give thousands of young people a voice with their debut album, Straight Outta Compton. While N.W.A was not the first super group in rap music, they certainly had the largest impact. This album has sold over three million copies and was certified triple platinum in 2015.

However, Straight Outta Compton’s legacy cannot only be measured in record sales or a position on the Billboard charts. N.W.A and its members helped to usher in a new age of rap music, commonly referred to as hardcore gangster rap.

Rapper Ice Cube has since moved on to acting and has become a cultural icon.
Rapper Ice Cube has since moved on to acting and has become a cultural icon.

These artists spoke candidly about a lifestyle that most average Americans only read about in the paper or saw in the news. Ice Cube often referred to his style as “reality rap” because he was speaking about his own surroundings in the inner city. The case as to why N.W.A is the single greatest hip-hop act of all time does not simply rest on this album’s success. It lies in the immeasurable multitude of careers they helped to inspire.

After the group’s break-up in 1991, Dr. Dre collaborated with a number of young artists and helped to launch such rap legends as Snoop Dogg, The D.O.C, Eminem, 50 Cent and the very act in the next column, Tupac Shakur, who did not find commercial success until getting help from Dr. Dre.

N.W.A pioneered a type of music that helped millions of disillusioned young people find a voice amidst such cultural turmoil as the Rodney King beating and the subsequent Los Angeles riots.

Modern Hip-Hop powerhouse Kendrick Lamar inducts NWA into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Modern Hip-Hop powerhouse Kendrick Lamar inducts NWA into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

N.W.A helped usher in the hip-hop craze of the 1990s and modern day rappers like Kendrick Lamar and Eminem sight N.W.A as a major influence on their work. All this being said, there is a clear choice for the greatest rapper of all-time and it came in the form of five teenagers from California who had something to say.



** FILE **This 1993 file photo shows rap musician Tupac Shakur. A new biopic on the slain rapper Shakur is coming. Morgan Creek Productions and Emmett/Furla Films announced in a Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013, news release they are in final negotiations to partner on the production of “Tupac.” (AP Photo/FILE)

Shakur proves legend status
by Domenic Patronella

Rap fans − that is to say, people who are passionate and informed about the culture − tend to get into arguments over who is the best rapper of all time. There is a huge difference between your favorite rapper and the best rapper. I have a lot of favorite rappers, but if I were to choose one it would probably be Lil Wayne.

Putting all personal preferences aside, there is indeed a clear and decisive answer to this question. The best rapper of all time is Tupac Amaru Shakur, also known as 2Pac or Makaveli.

Tupac is the undisputed king of rap and the most famous genre of the nineties: gangster rap. There is no doubt that Tupac Shakur was the most controversial rapper of all time. Trouble seemed to follow him everywhere he went. He wrote and created music not just about his own circumstances, but a society and a world that he saw as morally flawed. He recreated his own authentic soul into a musical form that the majority of the ignorant world overlooked because it was created by people in the projects.

He not only rapped about political issues that arose in the mid 80s and early 90s, but he also talked about issues that were deeply personal and self-reflective. Even then Tupac was more than just a rapper. He was also a poet, actor, activist and a genuine revolutionary. He spoke for the people downtrodden and stuck. He is the best that rap has to offer in that he not only represents the example of what a good rapper is, but he also transcended rap and transformed rap into a true art form.

As a result of this honesty and the raw expression of what it is like to grow up as a black person in the United States. He touched many across the world and across the country, so much so that he was hailed as a martyr in his untimely and violent death. He was rap’s Jimi Hendrix.

Pac had a dominating proficiency in delivery and flow, as well as being an excellent lyricist. Tupac went above and beyond rap. No one was on his level, and he is still the one to beat in hip-hop. I do not think he will ever be surpassed though, because his lyrics are becoming even more iconic and inspirational as the years after his tragic death have gone by. Death at a young age can often elevate a rapper from a modern-day star to a bona-fide legend.

His lyrics are the deepest, most thought provoking and intelligent to ever be created in rap music. At a first glance, Tupac may not seem very versatile to a person who has barely listened to his music. But you should never judge a book by its cover, because Tupac was one of the most versatile rappers in the industry.

Tupac could write a ferocious verbal attack for his enemies, and then write a love ballad to his mother within an hour. Tupac’s legacy will reign forever. His fans stretch from one side of the globe to the other and he left a legacy that will never be forgotten.