I just had a bizarre kids-get-off-my-lawn moment when I saw this gifset, threw my hands up in the air and actually said out loud “It’s Niggaz With Attitude (singular) dammit! How can they not KNOW this???”
I just pulled it up in iTunes to check - much to my dismay, the gifset is actually right: Cube throws an S on the end there.
Side note: unless you grew up at the time, you have no idea how controversial - and powerful - this album was. It’s hard to describe just how dangerous it felt, especially in my little perfectly constructed suburban world. We’d hide away in school where no adult would find us so we could listen in small groups; careful to play it loud enough to hear every word, but not so loud that anyone would come to investigate. It was a window - a portal even - to a new universe.
Those words up there? That’s the opening line to the first song (well, after the intro which states “You are now about to witness the strength of street knowledge.”) There’s no build-up - you put in the tape, press play and get hit with this barrage of raw lyrical emotion like you’d never heard before.
And this was in 1988 - you want to know what people were listening to in 1988? This shit right here! (Warning: textual Rickroll - because that’s when the song originally came out.) So while George Michael was singing about Faith and Whitney Houston was So Emotional and Whitesnake was wondering Is This Love, NWA came Straight Outta Compton (taking 20 seconds to cover race, murder, and class structure) followed it up with Fuck Tha Police, and then ran right into Gangsta Gangsta.
This album defined raw for a whole generation. It was the hardest of hardcore. It dripped with anger and shed light. In as close as matters to one fell swoop, it literally defined and created the entire Gansta Rap subgenre of hip-hop. The album lead to congressional hearings and investigations from the FBI and Secret Service. NWA was banned, vilified, investigated, shunned, lauded, raised, and ultimately respected for creating one - if not the most important hip-hop album in the history of the genre.
And goddamn does it still hit hard.