In the song Been There, Done That, Dr. Dre raps, “If you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for anything.” This song came out in 1996 after he parted ways with Surge Knight at Death Row Records, and the aftermath was all that was left from N.W.A and the first ride as a solo artist and producer. I think this song stands for everything that happened. This line expresses the importance of truth and vision, and that is what separates you from the masses. All the members of N.W.A had parted ways back in 1991 where cheap shots at one another in their music filled the air ways. Boys that grew up in Compton fell apart when money became the focus of their arguments. When you grow up in an environment where money has always been the for front of an argument who keeps you grounded? I think the million dollar question is how does a brotherhood of boys that grew up in Compton together, go from having each other’s backs to slinging insults?
I have been hearing the phrase “That’s just how it is” a lot, and with every fiber of my being, I hate that phrase. N.W.A never accepted the status quo. Easy-E, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, MC Ren, DJ Yella, and Arabian Prince pushed boundaries with their music. F*** the Police gave people a voice who didn’t have one, who were getting abused for being a different race, and brought to the for front of society the abuse of power that was being thrown around in the depths of the hood. It was never meant to start a riot or dangerous activity. It was meant to inspire and drive people to do the right thing if authority was taking advantage of you. So, why do we in the 21st century still feel that accepting what is considered the rule as what is?
In every part of my career and drive to be in the entertainment industry, I have never accepted people telling me “You are never going to change that,” “That’s just how it is,” or “That’s how it works around here.” Ice Cube and Dr. Dre fought against the unfair pay and contracts they were given as apart of Ruthless Records and N.W.A; and when they hit their breaking point, they stepped away from the group and did their own music, their way. I wonder what would have become of N.W.A had the blow out not happened. What would they have created had Easy-E not died in 1995? What if Jerry Heller actually cared about the men in the group and not just the money? N.W.A were striving to be well-known artists in Compton, but they became a generation of men that turned the music industry on its head into a voice to be heard. They put rap music into popularity and wrote lyrics that wasn’t coated with a string of lies and fantasy, but more of a sense of reality they dealt with everyday.
In the end, N.W.A was family. Even when they were fighting they ultimately forgave each other for everything, because in the end, all they were doing was being honest and expressing themselves. The beauty behind the madness was always the music, and honesty was what they chased. I think they said it best:
“When I start expressing myself, Yella slam it
Cause if I stay funky like this, I’m doing damage
Or I’mma be too hyped and need a straight jacket
I got knowledge and other suckers lack it”
-Express Yourself (N.W.A)