Straight Outta Compton is an easy album to take for granted. Its formula is so ingrained in music consciousness now that it’s odd to think there was a ‘before.’ Skits, samples, obstinance, and anger are the linchpins of many great hip hop albums, but few showcase their chemistry as explosively as N.W.A. did in 1988. The ‘reality rap’ of their debut shone a light on a world much of America hadn’t seen, and did so in a way that impacted everything that followed. The success of today’s hip hop superstars, from Kendrick Lamar to Eminem, is built on foundations laid by N.W.A. The openers “Straight Outta Compton”, “Fuck tha Police”, and “Gangsta Gangsta” are what the album is rightly remembered for. They are as striking a trio as you’re ever likely to hear, and the flows of Ice Cube, MC Ren, and Eazy-E bounce off of each other beautifully. The faux-ragtag collaboration throughout is irresistible. With producers Dr. Dre and DJ Yella providing the perfect backdrop for the album’s social satire. When Straight Outta Compton blows hot it feels unstoppable. The legacy of that underlying energy lives on in the artists N.W.A. touched. They modelled a spirit of expression impossible to ignore.