The 'Straight Outta Compton' Soundtrack Isn't Official, But Here Are 8 Great Albums To Complement The Film
It's rare that a film nowadays — especially a music biopic — doesn't have some kind of soundtrack, especially during a moment when everyone from Robert Pattinson to Barack Obama has published their own personal soundtrack via iTunes or Spotify, but the recent N.W.A film Straight Outta Compton is an outlier in that regard. The recent Dr. Dre release, Compton: A Soundtrack by Dr. Dre, ties into the film, but comprises entirely new material whereas the film quite faithfully reconstructs the west coast rap scene of the late 20th century. It stars a number of the biggest names in rap today, but it's still not quite a soundtrack in the traditional sense. So is there an official Straight Outta Compton soundtrack?
Short answer is, there's no official compilation of the music featured in the film. But Straight Outta Compton also boasts something of a built-in tracklist: a truly stacked set of songs that relate directly or tangentially to the film. After all, the film takes its name from the revolutionary N.W.A album released in 1988. N.W.A were also surrounded and succeeded by rappers like Snoop Dogg, Tupac, Nas, and each of the members' solo work after N.W.A disbanded. It's a far longer list than any traditional soundtrack could be, but this music is definitely worth a listen to understand where N.W.A came from and how their sound influenced even the least likely of today's rappers, from Kendrick Lamar to Jay Z.
Below, eight albums that perfectly complement the film.
1. Straight Outta Compton, N.W.A
The album from which the film draws its name is probably a good place to start. Tracks like "F*ck Tha Police" and "Express Yourself" resonate today. It's not just an intriguing historical sidebar — this album still matters.
2. good kid, m.A.A.d city, Kendrick Lamar
Speaking of Compton, it's also the title of one of the best tracks off of Kendrick Lamar's breakout album good kid, m.A.A.d city. It's unlikely that you missed it when it debuted back in 2012, but here's a refresher, because the Compton native is one of the most gifted inheritors of the N.W.A legacy.
3. 2Pacalypse Now, 2Pac
The first album by Tupac Shakur, this is the rapper at his rawest and most pure. It's a scathing indictment of racism, inner-city violence, and police brutality, and it demonstrates why Dr. Dre would so readily collaborate with the young rapper on "California Love."
4. Doggystyle, Snoop Dogg
Back when Doggystyle debuted in 1993, Snoop Dogg technically went by Snoop Doggy Dogg. Since Snoop — played by Keith Stanfield — appears in the film, the album that features "Gin and Juice" is a necessary addition to the film's unofficial playlist.
5. AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted
After N.W.A's first tour, Ice Cube leaves the group, embarking on an extremely fruitful solo career (of course, this has also included his more recent film career that culminated in Are We There Yet?, so it might not be what the one-time hardcore rapper had initially envisioned). The first album he released post-N.W.A is AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted, whose release is covered in the Straight Outta Compton film.
6. 100 Miles An' Runnin', N.W.A
Envying Ice Cube's solo success and bitter at his perceived betrayal, N.W.A released 100 Miles An' Runnin', in which they attack their former peer for leaving the group, calling him Benedict Arnold. (Ice Cube then responded with the diss track "No Vaseline.")
7. Enter the Wu-Tang, Wu-Tang Clan
Enter the Wu-Tang, Wu-Tang's debut, is emblematic of the east coast style that developed in tandem with the west coast of N.W.A and 2Pac. The track C.R.E.A.M. also appears in the film.
8. The Slim Shady LP, Eminem
After N.W.A disbanded, Dr. Dre founded recording company Aftermath Entertainment, the first label to sign a young Marshall Mathers — Eminem. Eminem was already familiar with N.W.A and Dre, and his first full-length effort debuted on Aftermath in 1999.
The quantity of music that emerged from the nascent east-west rap scene in the late 20th century cannot possibly be captured in a two-hour film. Dr. Dre's latest, Compton, which comes on the heels of nearly 15 years of silence, effectively synthesizes the influencers and influencees of this era of rap. The albums in this (very unofficial) guide, though, are energizing and political, fusing artistry with social commentary. So if Straight Outta Compton leaves you wanting more, well, there's always more. Much more.
Image: Universal Pictures