Rap Analysis Article – Every Kendrick/Dr. Dre/N.W.A./Game Reference To Compton

For me, West Coast music is probably my favorite subgenre of rap. That’s why I love to focus on it as a subject. Obviously, when you mention West Coast rap, you can’t ignore L.A., but I had questions about Compton, specifically. How did one city — not a very large one, with only 96,455 people, as the 2010 census says — come up with 5 of the biggest, greatest rap names? Furthermore, it seems the city has a lot more disadvantages than advantages.

Its per capita income was about $30,000 short of the national average in 2010. Its poverty rate was about 6 percentage points higher than the national average in 2010. None of that would have an effect on the musical talent someone might have on Compton, but it would restrict the availability of their resources that do need money, such as renting record studios, or being able to pay established producers for beats. With all of the statistically bad parts of living life in Compton, how do musicians from there choose to depict it and talk about it?

To do this, I went over 5 of the biggest albums to come out of the city, and collected every reference to Compton on them. Specifically, I wanted to see how their depiction of Compton —not the actual city in real life — changed over time. These are the 5 albums I checked out:

1. N.W.A. – Straight Outta Compton – 1987

2. Dr. Dre – The Chronic – 1992

3. Dr. Dre – 2001 (Informally known as Chronic: 2001) – 1999

4. Game – The Documentary – 2004

5. Kendrick Lamar – good kid, m.A.A.d city – 2012

These groups can all be differentiated from each other by how they choose to talk about our society’s ubiquitous themes of money, sex, violence, and poverty. What I found was that the depiction of Compton from these 4 groups, after starting out as pretty 1-dimensional, slowly becomes more and more faceted and texturized.

First, N.W.A. painted a 1-dimensional picture of the city as being comprised completely of gangstas, banging, sex, and a great time. There is no mentioning at all of negative aspects of poverty. There are no reference to actual places in the city, like streets. It is almost a mythological place that doesn’t exist in real life.Dr. Dre extended this legacy in the ‘90s. He references Compton, but more in a gangsta, G-funk mode. It’s still all gangbanging and weed. Dr. Dre references his history to N.W.A, but mostly as a way to build himself up. Still no mentioning of poverty in a negative way. Also, Dre does not mention Compton as much as N.W.A. did, and certainly not as much as Game. He is more a citizen of the West Coast, or L.A. in general, than as someone specifically from Compton.

Game is a new approach to Compton. He builds a more detailed story of Compton, as a real place with a real history, as found in N.W.A and Dr. Dre. Game references Compton more times than any other group here:18 times in all, while Dre mentions it only 13 times over both of his albums here. Game recognizes Compton history and his place in it the most out of all these artists, by constantly mentioning N.W.A. as a group, Eazy-E and Ice Cube specifically, Dr. Dre, and even acts who are less known outside the West Coast, like Compton’s Most Wanted, or King Tee. Game reps Compton over all other locales he’s associated with – LA, California, and New York City. Unlike the preceding artists, he has the weight of history to deal with – Dre and N.W.A. He is constantly comparing himself to them, and so associating himself with them.

Kendrick also marks a new approach to Compton. Now, listeners get the full picture of Compton. Although Kendrick also falls into stereotypical depictions of the city, such as on the song “Compton” (with lines like, “They come here for women, weed, and weather”), he also paints a very realistic, disturbing picture of the violence and poverty there. He does this on such songs as “m.A.A.d. City” and “Black Boy Fly.” Kendrick is also aware of the history of Compton and how he fits into it, but not as much as Game. He also peppers in references to N.W.A, Game, and Dr. Dre. More than any of the rest, Kendrick makes Compton a real place. He mentions actual characters with specific names and places (even if they aren’t real people), and real places in Compton (Gonzales Park, Leuders Park, a Church’s Chicken). This continues a general trend over the past 26 years, of an increasingly realistic and faceted depiction.

Below is every rap line when one of those groups mentions Compton, L.A., or some other related area. I’ve made the name of those places red. I list the group name, the song name, and then the rapper, as much as possible. I’ve grouped the lyrics into their headings under one of the 4 categories I examined them through: violence, drugs, money, and sex. If they don’t specifically mention one of those themes at the same time they mention Compton, I just describe it generally. I’ve included my thoughts on the 4 categories on each of their headings.

Enjoy!

Love,

Martin

N.W.A – Straight Outta Compton (18 references to Compton)


Violence – (Gratuitous, Cartoonish)

“Straight Outta Compton”

Ice Cube:

Straight outta Compton, crazy motherfucker named Ice Cube
From the gang called Niggas Wit Attitudes

——-

Cause Ice Cube is crazy as fuck
As I leave, believe I’m stomping
But when I come back boy, I’m coming straight outta Compton

Ren:

Straight outta Compton, another crazy ass nigga
More punks I smoke, yo my rep gets bigger
I’m a bad motherfucker and you know this

—–

Look, you might take it as a trip
But a nigga like Ren is on a gangsta tip
Straight outta Compton

Eazy-E:

Straight outta Compton
Is a brother that’ll smother your mother
And make your sister think I love her
Dangerous motherfucker raising hell
And if I ever get caught, I make bail

—–

You’ll get taken by a stupid dope brother who will smother your mother
Word to the motherfucker
Straight outta Compton

“Fuck The Police:”

Ice Cube

Ice Cube will swarm
On any motherfucker in a blue uniform
Just cause I’m from the CPT
Punk police are afraid of me, huh

“Compton’s N Da House:”

The criminal of the ruthless posse
Fuckin’ it up [word up] is what we do
The reputation of the NWA crew
Gettin’ busy because we’re cold stompin’
And we’re born and raised
And we’re born and raised in Compton


——


Speakin’ of Compton, it’s makin’ me sick [why?]
Everybody’z talkin’ that crazy shit
Sayin’ they were raised in the CPT [aha]
Just as I was, they try to be like me
Poppin’ that shit, get the fuck out my face

——

Now lemme hear you mothafuckaz talk some more shit
I’m a bust your ass in your mouth
Yo, unless you’re sayin’ “Compton’s in de house

Sex – (Explicit)

“8 Ball Remix:”

Put in the old tape Marvin Gaye’s greatest hits
Turn the shit up had the bass cold whompin
Cruisin through the Eastside, South of Compton
See a big ass, and I say word
I took a look at the face, and the bitch was to the curb

“Something Like That”

Sayin’ some shit to make the bitches wanna suck our dicks
But it’s an everyday thang
Communicating to y’all with the Compton slang
Compton’s back in the house and your appartment
So open your door, by the way, so we can start it

Drugs (Anti-Drugs)

“Dopeman”

Gold around his neck in 14 k heaven
Bitches jocking on his dick 24-7
Plus he’s making money keeping the base heads waiting
Rollin 6.4. with the fresh ass daytonas
Living in Compton, Cailfornia CA
His Uzi up yo ass if he don’t get paid
Nigga begging for credit, he’s knocking out teeth
Clocking much dollars on the 1st and 15th



Straight Shout-Outs (Lots):

“Something Like That”

[Ren] Yo, we got my homeboy Eazy E in the house
[Dre] Compton’s definitely in the house. Yo Ren, whatta we gonna
Call this ? Tell’em what yo name is ?

“Compton’s N Da House:”

Ah yeah, right about now Compton’s in de mothafuckin’ house [yeah do it do it]
NWA’s in full effect
Hey yo yella boy, kick me that funky-ass beat
Yeah, who’s in de mothafuckin’ house?
Compton’s in the mothafuckin’ house!
Yeah, Compton’s definitely in the house
Hey yo Ren, what we’re gonna do?

—–

Now lemme hear you mothafuckaz talk some more shit
I’m a bust your ass in your mouth
Yo, unless you’re sayin’ “Compton’s in de house

——

Compton’s in the house
Yeah, it’s time to put Compton on the map, don’t ever think you can get it on
You stupid mothafuckaz!

Dr. Dre – The Chronic (8 references to Compton)

Violence (Still Very Violent, But In A More Realistic, Believable Way)

“Fuck Wit Dre Day”
Yeah it’s me so I’mma talk on
Stomping on the “Eazy”est streets that you can walk on
So strap on your Compton hat, your locs
And watch your back cause you might get smoked, loc——

Now you might not understand me
Cause I’mma rob you in Compton and blast you in Miami
Then we gonna creep to South Central
On a Street Knowledge mission as I steps in the temple

“Let Me Ride”

You wanna make noise, make noise
I make a phone call
My niggas comin’ like the Gotti boys
Bodies bein’ found on Greenleaf ***a street in Compton***
With their fucking heads cut off
Motherfucker, I’m Dre

“The Day The Niggaz Took Over”Yo, straight putting it down gettin my scoot on
It’s jump in off in Compton so I gots to get my loot on
And come up on me some furniture or somethin
Got a VCR, in the back of my car

“A Nigga Witta Gun”

Stupid punk can’t fuck with a mastermind
See I never take a step on a Compton block
Or LA without the AK ready to pop

“Rat Tat Tat Tat Tat”
Taken away like Calgon on Vietnam
California, back and on a mission, makin’ a point
Ain’t no fuckin’ competition
They wishin’ but run up on reality
CPT, CAL my locality



Sex: (Explicit)

“Bitches Ain’t Shit”

I used to know a bitch named Eric Wright
We used to roll around and fuck the hoes at night
Tighter than a motherfucka with the gangsta beats
And we was balling on the motherfucking Compton streets


Drugs: (Pro-Drugs Now)


The very name of the album? haha.


Money: (Get Al Of It Possible In Order To Live, Not To Necessarily Be Rich)

Straight Shout-Outs to Compton (Surprisingly Few)

Cause I’m too hard to lift
And no, this ain’t Aerosmith
It’s the motherfuckin’ D.R.E
From the C.P.TDr. Dre – Chronic: 2001 (5 references to Compton)


Violence: (Psychological Terror, Not Physical Damage)



“Light Speed”

Hell yeah, still “Alwayz Into Somethin'”
Heart still in Compton
The comp can’t oppose, dope Cali platinum classicals

“Forgot About Dre”

Who you think brought you the oldies
Eazy-Es, Ice Cubes, and D.O.Cs
The Snoop D-O-double-G’s
And the group that said motherfuck the police?
Gave you a tape full of dope beats

“Bitch Niggaz”

Straight off the streets of chaos and no pity
The aggravated, makin’ these punk motherfuckers hate it
Compton is the city I’m from
Can’t never leave the crib without a murder wea-pon


Sex: Gratuitous


Drugs: (Very Pro-Drugs)


“Next Episode”

Dre and Snoop chronic-ed out in the ‘llac
With Doc in the back, sipping on ‘gnac
Clip in the strap, dipping through hoods
Compton, Long Beach, Inglewood
South Central out to the Westside



Money:


“Forgot About Dre”

Everybody wanna come to me like it was some disease
But you won’t get a crumb from me
Cause I’m from the streets of Compton

Straight Shout-Outs (Almost None, Comparatively)

“Next Episode”

Straight off the fucking streets of C-P-T
King of the beats you ride to em in your Fleet

Game – The Documentary (18 references to Compton)


Violence: (Realistic, Detailed; Specifics Of Gangbanging)


“Westside Story”

Keep jibbin and jabbin I pull the thirty eight magnum
And get to clickin and clackin your homies wanna know what happened
Come to Compton see Thriller like Mike Jackson

——

Homey I let the 38 special ripped through that vest
And I don’t contemplate whether or not he left his shit on the dresser
Got Compton on my back, I’m startin to feel the pressure
I’m lyrically Kool G. Rap on these Dre records

Don’t Need Your Love”
I’ve been rappin for a year and a half, my life is real
Put the gun in his mouth, he gon’ bite the steel
Come to Compton, I got stripes for real
Before Dre, before the ice, before the deal – I was almost killed

“Church For Thugs”Got niggas doin life in the state pen, so I dread like Jamaicans
If I die for one of my statements
Then break up the streets of Compton, spread my blood in the pavement

“No More Fun And Games”Gangsta gangsta, that’s already evident
Nigga Witta Attitude, check check my residence
Whether I’m Crip or Blood, homey that’s irrelevant
I with the D.O.C., there’s nobody better than
The West coast felon when he on that lowrider bike pedallin



Sex: (Less References; Specific Girl, A Rap Love Song):


“Where I’m From”

It was me against the world baby girl; you had dreams of stardom
The Prince of Compton meets the Queen of Harlem

——

Jeans painted with the waist cut out, you rock ’em the fly way
That lil’ bit of Compton mixed with Bed-Stuy way


Drugs (Tons Of References Now):

“Higher”
Let’s have a gangsta party
Somebody lean over and tell Banks to order another case of 40’s
Yo Doc give ’em a Coke with that
Wake up the West coast is back

——

You wanna peiimp? I’ll burn my shit up like Snoop (Westside)
“Chronic 2005” muh’fucker
Put the purple in the dutch “Let it Burn” like Usher – giirl



“How We Do”

Come get some, Pistol grip pump
If a nigga step on my white Air Ones
It’s red rum, Ready here I come
Compton unh, Dre found me in the slums
Sellin that skunk, one hand on my gun


“Put You On The Game”

Chain smokin, purple haze
This ain’t another one of those, this the rebirth of Dre
The rebirth of L.A., the rebirth of hip-hop


Money:


“Hate It Or Love It”

Ten G’s ‘ll take your daughter out of Air Forces
Believe you me homey, I know all about losses
I’m from Compton, wear the wrong colors be cautious
One phone call’ll have your body dumped in Marcy


Straight Shout-Outs (Tons):

“The Documentary”

I’m the second dopest nigga
From Compton you’ll ever hear
The first nigga only put out albums
Every 7 years

“Westside Story”

Since the West coast fell off, the streets been watchin
The West coast never fell off, I was asleep in Compton

“Dreams”

The dream of Huey Newton that’s what I’m livin through
The dream of Eric Wright, that’s what I’m givin you
Who walked through the White House without a business suit
Compton hat, jheri curl drippin on Ronald Reagan’s shoes 

“Don’t Need Your Love”

Tryin to be the king of the streets, niggas’ll wet your throne
But I got nieces to feed, two coasts to please
So I roam through the city like the ghost of E
Gotta put Compton back where it’s ‘sposed to be
Nuttin between all my niggas that’s close to me

“Church For Thugs”
F’real, nah f’real I need a track homey
Dre we too close, ain’t no turnin back homey
Deal with it, I’mma be here for ten years
Spittin like the ghost of Eric Wright and Big here——

I’m Compton’s most wanted when I’m ridin with Timbo

—–

G-G-G-G-G-Unit = I know that boy, not familiar
But you got to feel him if the Doctor sealed him
(Is Compton in the house?) Without a doubt

“We Ain’t”

Ladies and gentleman
You are now about to witness the strength
Of Aftermath straight out the mothafuckin streets of Compton
Put your hands together for Game bitch
Hahahaha
Yeah mothafuckas
Compton’s back on the mothafuckin map
Aftermath in that ass bitch
Game let’s go

“Where I’m From”

Eve took me to Philly, never been to the pen
Been to Uptown with 50, seen niggas in Timbs
I done seen Young Buck scuff Air Force Ones
In Cashville, but Compton is {where I’m from}

—–

(Aftermath, nigga witta attitude) (Game time niggas, Westside)
Where I’m from
(Nigga witta attitude) (Straight Outta Compton) (We rock khakis and Chucks)
If you don’t know

—-

What you thought cause I’m from Compton I couldn’t do numbers like Usher?
Platinum certified, nigga that’s a mill’ plus

Kendrick Lamar  – good kid, m.A.A.d city

Violence: (Hey, Guess What Guys? It Actually Really, Really Fucking Sucks When People Die, And Really, Really Fucks You Up Mentally)

“Money Trees”
That Louis Burger never be the same
A Louis belt will never ease that pain-actual place where Kendrick knew someone who was killed, in Compton


“m.A.A.d City”

Aw man, God damn, all hell broke loose
You killed my cousin back in ’94. Fuck yo truce

-Pirus and Crips had a truce in 1992, but Kendrick says his cousin was still killed anyway.


——-

You know the reasons but still won’t ever know my life
Kendrick AKA Compton’s human sacrifice

——-

I live inside the belly of the rough
Compton, U.S.A. made Me an Angel on Angel Dust, what

—–

It was Me, L Boogs, and Yan Yan, YG, Lucky ride down Rosecrans
It got ugly, waving your hand out the window. Check yo self——–

Seen a light-skinned nigga with his brains blown out
At the same burger stand where — hang out
Now this is not a tape recorder saying that he did it
But ever since that day, I was lookin at him different

 

 

Sex: (Intimate; Specific; Real Romantic Love At Points; Way More Complex For Kendrick Than For Previous 4 Rap Artists)

“Sherane A.K.A. Master Splinter’s Daughter”
“I met her at this house party on El Segundo and Central
She had the credentials of strippers in Atlanta”-intersection is in Compton

-near where Kendrick went to high school, Centennial High School

——

“Sing About Me, I’m Dying Of Thirst”

Gonzales Park, I’m followed by a married man, a father of three
My titties bounce on the cadence of his tingling keys

-A park in Compton where prostitutes pick up johns

“Real””Kenny I ain’t trippin’ off that Dominos anymore, just calling, sorry to hear what happen to your homeboy, but don’t learn the hard way like I did homie”. “Any nigga can kill a man, that don’t make you a real nigga”. “Real is responsibility, real is taking care of your motherfucking family, real is god, nigga”

-no Compton reference, but essential to understanding Kendrick
—–
Look, the neighbors say they seen you and your little friends over there by Food 4 Less and they was preaching to you over there telling you about the good book because right about now that’s what ya’ll need.
-actual grocery store in Compton—–

“If I don’t hear from you, by tomorrow… I hope you come back, and learn from your mistakes. Come back a man, tell your story to these black and brown kids in Compton. Let ’em know you was just like them, but you still rose from that dark place of violence, becoming a positive person.



Drugs (Kendrick Is Actually Really Uncomfortable Talking About Them; “The Recipe” Is Clearly An Anomaly, And Him Playing A Part; Him Foaming At The Mouth After His First Blunt From PCP Is Closer To The Truth



Money (Poverty Makes Your Life Seem Less Important):

“Black Boy Fly”

I wasn’t jealous cuz of the talents they got
I was terrified they’ll be the last black boys to fly…
Out of Compton

—–

Compton made you believe success wasn’t real
Be honest, none of us knew of a record deal

—–

He made a dream become a reality
Actually making it possible to swim
His way out of Compton with further more to accomplish
Graduate with honors, a sponsor of basketball scholars

 

Straight Shout-Outs (Specific, Real Places Now; Not Generic):

“”Where you stay?” She said “Down the street from Dominguez High
Okay, I know that’s borderline Compton or Paramount
“Well is it Compton?”
“No,” she replied and quickly start batting her eyes”
-a real school in Compton
 
——-

 

Please leave your message for 323-(inaudible)
Record your message after the tone
Kendrick. Where you at? Damn, I’m sittin’ here waitin’ on my van-Compton area code

“Backseat Freestyle”

And I pray you niggas is hating, shooters go after Judas
Jesus Christ if I live life on my knees, ain’t no need to do this
Park it in front of Lueders, next to that Church’s Chicken
All you pussies is losers, all my niggas is winners, screaming

——-

She pussy popping and I got options like an audible, I be
C-O-M-P-T-O-N, I win then ball at your defeat
C-O-M-P-T-O-N, my city mobbing in the street, yellin’

“The Art Of Peer Pressure”

A quarter tank of gas, one pistol, and orange soda
Janky stash box when the federales roll up
Basketball shorts with the Gonzales Park odor
We on the mission for bad bitches and trouble

——-“Money Trees”

But I’mma purchase when that day is jerking
Pull off at Church‘s with Pirelli’s skirting
Gang signs out the window, ya bish

-again, a real place
“Compton”Compton, Compton, ain’t no city quite like mine

—–

So come and visit the tire screeching, ambulance, policeman
Won’t you spend a weekend on Rosecrans nigga
Khaki creasing, crime increasing on Rosecrans nigga
Kendrick Conan nigga

—–

This was brought to you by Dre
Now every motherfucker in here say:
“Look who’s responsible for taking Compton international
I make ’em holla”

—–

Will swarm on me like a beehive
Hop in the G ride
From the West to the East side
Know that’s just how Compton roll

If you liked this article, you might enjoy these other ones, which are among my most popular:

1.) An analysis of Nas’ flow on the 2006 Busta Rhymes song “Don’t Get Carried Away,” which you can read here.

2.) My album review & analysis of the 2012 Kendrick Lamar album “good kid, m.A.A.d city,” which you can read here.

3.) A database of who the 23 most repetitive rappers in the industry are, available here.

4.) A study of every instrument Dr. Dre used on his songs between the years 2000 and 2009, online here.

5.) A breakdown of Eminem’s song “Business,” which you can check out here.

Martin Connor is a music teacher & writer from Philadelphia, PA, with a music degree of high distinction from Duke University who is currently studying for a master’s degree at Brandeis University in Boston, MA, while focusing his research on the vocal melodies of the rap genre. He has contributed freelance articles to HipHopDX, Complex, and Pigeons and Planes, and had multiple articles from his website, www.RapAnalysis.com go viral on BET, The Source, XXL, and MTV. He teaches rap lessons online through the music school LessonFace, and has a book, The Artistry Of Rap Music, forthcoming from the McFarland Publishing House, scheduled for release in late 2017, as a follow-up to his 2014 contribution to their anthology "Eminem & Rap, Poetry, Race." He welcomes all comments, compliments, insults, and restaurant suggestions at mepc36@gmail.com.

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