With this album, Dr.Dre, Eazy-E, Ice Cube, MC Ren and DJ Yella brought to the mainstream the soon-to-be-pariah known as Gangsta Rap, with its foul-mouthed depictions of violence, drugs, and sexism. The production pairs hard-hitting, thunder-like beats and snare kicks with uptempo funk and soul, as Cube, Dre, Eazy and Ren spit rhymes, that, even today, are offensive, insensitive, hate-ridden, exiting, entertaining, witty, and often amusing.
While songs deal with colorful subjects such as shooting at police, drugs, and punching someone in the mouth simply because you don't like them, the music retains a party-friendly, festive vibe, which is a stark contrast to the belligerent lyrics. With or without the lyrical bloodshed, Compton is still as playful and fun as a Run DMC record or even the Beastie Boys' Licensed to Ill. While comparatively benign in terms of subject matter, they were both large touchstones for Compton's sound - it sounds like a party record first and foremost. This irony is much like John Denver writing a gentle, heartfelt ballad about breaking his guitar over your head, and stabbing you repeatedly with what's left of it - lest he not blow your head off with his gat. Brutal. Hilarious.
Perhaps more ironic is that the group was not only about offending people (though it probably was a big part of the agenda), but simply telling life how they saw it. Along with the obvious "F Tha Police", a cry against police brutality, "Express Yourself," a tribute to honesty, and "Dopeman," which documents the perils of drug dealing, the album is a streetwise documentation of the harsh ghetto environment in which the rappers were raised, "the strength of street knowledge" if you will.
This album is up to the brim with classic material - the knockout left-right-left ("and you're toothless!") of the first three songs (can you really think of a better way to start off an album?), the sharp flows of "Something Like That" and "Compton's In The House", and "If It Ain't Ruff." Ice Cube is the album's star; his performance here drips with fury and hunger, though they're all in top form here and work with great chemistry to one another. As if you need to be told, one of the best albums ever.