On this day in music history: August 8, 1988 – “Straight Outta Compton”, the debut album by N.W.A is released. Produced by Dr. Dre and DJ Yella, it is recorded at Audio Achievements in Torrance, CA from Late 1987 – Early 1988. The groundbreaking first album by the Compton, CA rap group introduce hardcore rap to the mainstream. Painting graphic sonic pictures of life in their native Compton and South Central Los Angeles, backed by samples of classic R&B and Funk, the album immediately strikes a nerve in the public conscious that spread far beyond the origins of its creation. The record receives virtually no mainstream radio airplay, video play, or tour support, yet it reaches multi-platinum status, through word of mouth creating a huge underground buzz at street level. It spins off three singles including “Gangsta, Gangsta”, “Express Yourself” and the title track. The album also receives a high profile boost when the FBI sends a letter to the head of NWA’s label Priority Records, warning and chastising them about the incendiary lyrics on the track “F*ck Tha Police”. In time, the album is regarded as a landmark release in Hip Hop, pioneering the “G-Funk and "gangsta rap genres. The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 2002 with four additional bonus tracks, including the 12” mixes of “Express Yourself, "Straight Outta Compton” and the single B-side “A Bitch Iz A Bitch”. The album is most recently remastered and reissued on vinyl in 2015, as a 180 gram LP, and limited edition picture disc. The album is also reissued on cassette, making it available in that format. for the first time in nearly two decades. “Straight Outta Compton” peaks at number nine on the Billboard R&B album chart, number thirty seven on the Top 200, and is certified 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: October 17, 1990 – “The Geto Boys”, the third album by The Geto Boys is released. Produced by DJ Ready Red, Doug King, John Bido, and Johnny C, it is recorded at Rap-A-Lot Recording Studios and Rivendell Recorders in Houston, TX from Mid 1988 – Mid 1990. Making their debut around the same time as N.W.A., The Geto Boys from the notoriously rough Fifth Ward in Houston, TX, the group quickly become underground gangsta rap icons thanks to their first two albums “Making Trouble” and “Grip It! On That Other Level” released in 1988. Featuring gritty and funky beats made on an E-mu SP-1200 sampler/drum machine, the rhymes of Scarface, Willie D. and Bushwick Bill contain often violent, profane, sexually explicit and misogynist imagery with elements of horror or gore. Def Jam Records co-founder Rick Rubin is a fan of the group and offers to sign them to his label Def American, at the time being distributed by Geffen Records (then part of Warner Bros). Rubin along with engineer Brendan O’Brien (Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots) remixes all twelve tracks from “Grip It!” (also re-recording the vocals on several songs) along with “Assassins” from their debut. When the finished album is turned in to Geffen, the sh*t literally hits the fan, with executives at the label being highly offended by its lyrical content, especially the tracks “Mind Of A Lunatic” and “Assassins”. Geffen’s CD manufacturer Sony DADC (Digital Audio Disc Corporation) also refuses to press CD’s of the album for the same reason. Rubin instead arranges for Warner Bros subsidiary label Giant Records to handle distribution and marketing of the album, with WEA Manufacturing pressing the CD and manufacturing cassettes. In addition the Parental Advisory sticker on the front cover, an additional disclaimer is added, baring the legend, “Def American Recordings is opposed to censorship. Our manufacturer and distributor, however, do not condone or endorse the content of this recording, which they find violent, sexist, racist, and indecent”. Though most mainstream critics react negatively to the content of the album, on the opposite side, many in the rap music community praise it for its inventive use of samples (considering the limitations of the technology used), and the authoritative vocals of the groups three principal members. Not long after the album is released, The Geto Boys run into a problem with musician Steve Miller, who objects to the use of his song “The Joker” on the track “Gangster Of Love”. The original pressing is deleted and reissued with the sample being replaced by Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” in its place. This turns the original CD, cassette and rare vinyl pressings into expensive and sought after collector’s items. “The Geto Boys” peaks at number sixty seven on the Billboard R&B album chart and number one hundred seventy one on the Top 200.