First Impressions: The 50 Best Album-Opening Songs in Rap History

2. N.W.A. "Straight Outta Compton" (1988)

Producer: Dr. Dre, DJ Yella
Album: Straight Outta Compton
Label: Priority, Ruthless


"Straight Outta Compton" completely embodies the impetus of its title. The track explodes without any warning and proceeds to rush the listener in one uninterrupted attack. With this song N.W.A. opened a Pandora's box that contained every ugly sharp of buried resentment that had festered on the South Los Angeles streets over the preceding fifty years. It's funky but by no means laid back and violent but by no means melodramatic. Set to the tempo of someone being chased down an alley, "Straight Outta Compton" is pure and utter energy. It announced that N.W.A. could summon all the electricity of Public Enemy and still get away with letting Eazy-E threaten to smother your mother. —Sam Sweet

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