11 DJ Yella Songs To Know, As The N.W.A Member Helped Craft The Sound Of '80s & '90s Hip-Hop
Straight Outta Compton is a phenomenon. The new film chronicling the career of influential rap group N.W.A. blew away the box office with a $60.2 million opening weekend (on a $29 million budget), which is good enough for the best opening for a music biopic ever, as well as the best ever for an R-rated August opening. The movie should have legs, too, since it's been a hit with critics as well as audiences, and is currently sitting pretty with a certified fresh rating of 89 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. The largely unknown cast has drawn raves, and of course the music is as good as it ever was. But who's surprised at that? After all, N.W.A. consisted of some pretty big names in the rap game: Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, and DJ Yella. Although the last artist on that list might not be as well-known as the others, there are many DJ Yella songs to know that'll convince you that his legacy is just as strong as his former bandmates.
Although his name may not be as familiar to the casual observer as some of N.W.A.'s more celebrated members, DJ Yella had a huge hand in crafting the sound of early hip hop (and also porn, apparently). Yella began his career as part of the electro-funk group World Class Wreckin' Cru, along with Dr. Dre, back in the early '80s, when rap wasn't even really a genre of music yet. From there he helped mold the new sound into gangsta rap, which forms the basis for the hip hop that dominates the charts today. Yella made his living mostly as a producer, creating the beats for a number of acts throughout the '80s and '90s and helping to usher in a whole new sound for his generation. Here are 11 of the best tracks DJ Yella produced during his impressive run.
World Class Wreckin' Cru — "Surgery"
Yella and Dre co-produced World Class Wreckin' Cru's first two albums, World Class in 1985 and Rapped in Romance in 1986, and though the lyrics are a far cry from "F*ck tha Police", the beats laid the foundation for what was to come.
J.J. Fad — "Supersonic"
By 1988, N.W.A. had formed and its members were already lending out their talents to other groups before their first album even dropped. Yella, Dre, and future ex-N.W.A. member Arabian Prince all served as producers on female rap group J.J. Fad's debut album, Supersonic.
N.W.A. — "Something 2 Dance 2"
This track from 1988's Straight Outta Compton is the only one on which Yella receives a performer credit, though he co-produced the whole album. Its sound is considerably more fun-loving and innocent-sounding than much of the rest of the album, and shows Yella's lesser intensity compared to the group's other members. He just wants to dance!
Eazy-E — "Eazy-Duz-It"
Released just a month after Straight Outta Compton, Eazy-E's solo album, Eazy-Duz-It was co-produced by Yella and Dre, and featured lyrics written by Ice Cube and MC Ren... so it's practically another N.W.A. album, at least in spirit.
The D.O.C. — "The Grand Finale"
Frequent N.W.A. collaborator The D.O.C. (rappers with acronyms for names gotta stick together) released his debut album, No One Can Do It Better, in 1989, which was mostly produced by Dre, but it was Yella who provided the beats on the album's closing track.
Michel'le — "No More Lies"
R&B singer Michel'le's self-titled debut album was released in 1989, and was co-produced by the familiar team of Yella and Dre, with Eazy-E serving as executive producer.
Yomo & Maulkie — "Glory"
After working on two post-Ice Cube N.W.A. albums and another album for J.J. Fad, Yella produced the debut album for hip-hop duo Yomo & Maulkie. Released in 1991, Are U Xperienced? featured Eazy-E in the producer's chair next to Yella, replacing usual collaborator Dr. Dre. Yella would remain close with Eazy-E until the latter's death in 1995.