On May 5, 1989 the L.A. Weekly printed a cover story, written by Jonathan Gold, about N.W.A., the most notorious band in the U.S., let alone in Los Angeles.
Twenty years after the release of their first album, N.W.A and the Posse, we are happy to present Jonathan Gold's article online.
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SHOW ME HOW
(Cover photo by Howard Rosenberg)
August '88: Eazy E props his Air Jordans up on a desk, stares at the ceiling, and leaves the room whenever the beeper on his belt goes off, which is often. He answers most of the reporter's questions with a noncommittal mmmmm; he could as well be talking to a parole officer as a writer from the slicks. Eazy's group N.W.A -- Niggas With Attitude -- has just finished mixing down "Gangsta Gangsta," a breathtakingly violent, vulgar gangster-rap jam that is their first single in more than a year. In the office of the record company president, Dre, the producer, slaps in a tape; it's the first time anybody has heard the song outside the studio. Ice Cube's angry voice cuts through the room over a funky Steve Arrington guitar riff: "...Out the door, but we don't quit./Ren said, 'Let's start some shit.'/I got a shotgun, and here's the plot:/Takin' niggas out with a flurry of buckshot..."
Fifteen sets of jaws go slack, including their manager's, their publicist's, and the president's. Fifteen sets of eyes stare at the carpet, the ceiling, the California Raisins gold records on the walls, anywhere but the cassette deck. The white people look shocked, the black people embarrassed. A drive-time jock rubs his temple hard. One promotion guy cackles in the corner, muttering, "I love to work dirty records. I love to work dirty records." Eazy smirks. The hooks are tight, the rhymes are tough, the rapping right on key -- it's a perfect hardcore rap track... and unthinkable.