N.W.A (an abbreviation for Niggaz Wit Attitudes) was an American hip hop group from Los Angeles, California. They were among the earliest and most significant popularizers and controversial figures of the gangsta rap subgenre, and are widely considered one of the greatest and most influential groups in the history of hip hop music. Active from 1986 to 1991, the rap group endured controversy owing to their music’s explicit lyrics, which many viewed as being disrespectful to women, as well as to its glorification of drugs and crime. The group was subsequently banned from many mainstream American radio stations. In spite of this, the group has sold over 10 million units in the United States alone. Drawing on their own experiences of racism and excessive policing, the group made inherently political music. They were known for their deep hatred of the police system, which sparked much controversy over the years.
The original lineup formed in 1986 consisted of Arabian Prince, Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, and Ice Cube. DJ Yella and MC Ren joined later, with Arabian Prince eventually leaving shortly before the official release of Straight Outta Compton, which came out in 1988, and Ice Cube following suit in December 1989. Eazy-E, Ice Cube, MC Ren and Dr. Dre would later become platinum-selling solo artists in the 1990s. Their debut album Straight Outta Compton marked the beginning of the new gangsta rap era as the production and social commentary in their lyrics were revolutionary within the genre. NWA’s second album Niggaz4Life would be the first hardcore rap album to debut at number one on the Billboard 200 sales charts. Rolling Stone ranked N.W.A number 83 on their list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time”. In 2016, the group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, following three previous nominations. Read more