Ten essential gangsta-rap albums
1. N.W.A -- Straight Outta Compton
Gangsta rap began with Straight Outta Compton, and in all likelihood, it will never be done more effectively. Besides the so-in-your-face-it's-subtle political message, the lyrics, anchored by heavyweights Ice Cube and Eazy-E, were so vicious and visceral, they were immediately captivating whether you loved or hated what they were saying. The impact of this album on hip-hop and America at large was monumental. The album was so popular, and perceived as so potentially corrupting, the American media had a full-blown moral panic attack. And this was the genius of the album: By representing the gang-filled parts of America that had been subjected to systemic neglect and urban decay, and causing such a stir that mainstream America couldn't help but take notice, voices for the marginalized poor gained an economic foothold in our primarily capitalist society and thus gained some measure of power -- which, despite being compromised by the consolidation of the music industry, has yet to be relinquished.