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The song Straight Outta Compton is the title track from the debut album of N.W.A.’s debut album last 1988. The composer behind the song created the lyrics based on the lives of gangsters on the streets of a south central area of Los Angeles (Songfacts, 2010). The first three sentences introduced a person named Iced Cube from came from the black-American gangster group. The next five sentences suggest that the singer is carrying a gun and they can pull a trigger to injure other people. No one should mess with him, or he could be dangerous to deal with. The words being used were the typical terms used on gangster streets of Compton (NWA – Straight Outta Compton, 2012).
The subsequent lyrics also suggested that their gangsters are the typical ones who like to rumble. The lyrics also mentioned that they could use ammunitions like AK47 and he would be forced to use it if anyone does something bad to him. In other words, if would be recommended to avoid those people that the song mentioned. They also mentioned profanity and sexism. The song did tell something about smoking and illegal possession of firearms. The sounds of the song also involved a police chasing the gangsters, indicating that they have violated laws many times. In some cases, they avoid trouble especially if they knew that the law enforcements were around. They do not avoid the law enforcements, but they just lie low (NWA – Straight Outta Compton, 2012).
The people who created the song only said that they simply documented the happenings in the city of Compton. It also describes the characteristics of their musicians behind the song. Ice Cube explained direct interpretations of the song in his youtube video by Vanity Fair. Ice Cube mentioned that the sawed off also represents a metaphor knowledge. The sentences that suggest about murder rap and Charles Manson can be directly interpreted as Cube’s rap will keep their listeners entertained, and he is also comparable to the cult leader/murderer Charles Manson of the Beach Boys (Ice Cube Responds to Rap Genius Interpretations of “Straight Outta Compton” 2015).
The phrase “out of the box” indicates competition, musical charts or the winner’s circle. However, the lyrics also mentioned about daily, weekly and yearly and this implies that out of the box means musical charts. The sentence that starts with “As I leave” and then ends with Straight Outta Compton claims that after shooting house, he would stomp on the gas pedal and drive his car out of Compton City (Ice Cube Responds to Rap Genius Interpretations of “Straight Outta Compton” 2015).
However, many people are interpreting it differently. For instance, they believe that the song glorifies the criminality through mentioning AK47 and something about killing. The first potential backlash is that the listeners may judge the song being the way of encouraging people to use firearms whether they acquire those arms illegally or legally. The song stated that they could use guns if they are pissed off indicating that if any people who not do any good towards them, it would be better to avoid them. Even though the word sawed off is a metaphor for knowledge, many people do not know about that. The rap song also has a catchy tune that may imply that using firearms illegally is okay as long as they can avoid the law enforcements (NWA – Straight Outta Compton, 2012).
Another possible interpretation from other people is that the music encourages listeners to engage in weed smoking. The lyrics also mentioned that they smoke weed and since rappers are considered cool, the listeners might think that it is cool to smoke weed. When the song said that the people should duck in the area of Los Angeles, they might interpret that they should be careful while in the area. Because violence is a norm in that location, people especially who are not familiar with the location must be extremely careful and sometimes they might have to duck literally (NWA – Straight Outta Compton, 2012).
The message is geared towards the listeners who love to rap and those who love hip-hop. However, because of violence and profanity, the song only targets adults. Nevertheless, adults could misinterpret the song especially if they are not aware of the genuine situation of the Los Angeles area. They would consider the song as a glorification of violence. However, if they live in the area, they would simply agree with the lyrics of the song as true (NWA – Straight Outta Compton, 2012).
On the other hand, the children would interpret it differently and directly. They might learn that being a bully is cool since they may consider the singer as the bully. Bullies are the ones who initiate violence, and they will surely consider people behind the lyrics were initiators of violence. In the first place, they could get away with it if they can escape the law enforcements. Since the lyrics only mentioned smoke, the children might believe that it is socially acceptable to smoke, whether tobacco or weed. The children may interpret the song that it is acceptable to be avoided by many people. They may also consider using guns illegally as acceptable. Consequently, it would attract potential controversy especially for teachers and parents of young children and even teenagers.
Personally, the song does not sound good since it highlights criminality and violence. Even though they do not intend to promote criminality as they simply document it, they still made violence sounds good through this song (NWA – Straight Outta Compton, 2012).
Straight Outta Compton song represents the harsh realities of south central Los Angeles, such representation can produce a variety of interpretations, and most of them were unfavorable. The people who created the song only said that they simply documented the happenings in the city of Compton. It also describes the characteristics of their musicians behind the song. The message of the song is geared towards the listeners who love to rap and those who love hip-hop. Since it has profanity and violence, it only targets adults. Ice Cube even discussed their direct interpretations of the song. On the other hand, other people interpreted it differently. The children would interpret it differently and directly. They might learn that being a bully is cool since they may consider the singer as the bully. Even adults misinterpreted the song especially if they are not aware of the genuine situation of the Los Angeles area. They would consider the song as the glorification of violence. However, if they live in the area, they would simply agree with the lyrics of the song as true
Ice Cube Responds to Rap Genius Interpretations of “Straight Outta Compton” (2015). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8-RDV9I4JY
NWA – Straight Outta Compton. (2015). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B_xroIc3Hpw
Songfacts. (2010). Retrieved from http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=29456
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