Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, MC Ren, DJ Yella, and Arabian Prince initially formed the collective known as “the world’s most dangerous group,” N.W.A.—Niggaz With Attitudes.
Following Ice Cube’s stint in C.I.A. and Dre and Yella’s departure from the World Class Wreckin Cru, they got together with Compton hustler Eric “Eazy-E” Wright, who formed Ruthless Records and released Eazy’s single “Boyz n the Hood,” written by Cube and produced by Dre. A compilation entitled N.W.A. and the Posse was released in 1987 but the group’s seminal debut, Straight Outta Compton, was released on August 8, 1988. It led to the rise of gangsta rap and West Coast hip-hop in general with their tales of “reality rap” from the streets of Compton and South Central Los Angeles. Their song “Fuck tha Police” even put the group on the hit list of the FBI.
Arabian Prince was the first to leave the group in 1988 over a financial dispute. Ice Cube left N.W.A. in 1989 after his own financial dispute, leading to the other members to diss him on their subsequent releases: the 1990 EP 100 Miles and Runnin' and EFIL4ZAGGIN, which was released in 1991 and peaked at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart. The D.O.C., who contributed to Straight Outta Compton and was still recovering from a car accident that severly altered his strong voice, wrote more rhymes for Dr. Dre and Eazy-E on the EFIL4ZAGGIN album in attempt to fill the void left by Cube.
Following N.W.A.’s jabs, Ice Cube threw the knockout blow to the group with his track “No Vaseline,” which, in part, led to Dr. Dre leaving N.W.A. and Ruthless Records with his own financial dispute similar to Cube’s two years earlier. Dre and The D.O.C. went on to establish Death Row Records with Suge Knight in 1992, where Dre would innovate the G-Funk sound and further establish the success of the West Coast sound in hip-hop.
After back-and-forth disses between Dr. Dre and Eazy-E, plans for an N.W.A. reunion were in the discussion stages when Eazy-E died of AIDS in 1995. Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, and MC Ren have since reunited to record the tracks “Chin Check” and “Hello.” In 2015, a biographical drama titled Straight Outta Compton was released to critical acclaim and a box office gross of over $200 million worldwide. The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2016.