Some rappers happen to be thoughtful, intelligent people. Each week, Rocks Off will have some of them here discussing issues relevant to their culture.
This Week's Panel: Mic Skills, E.S.G., Chingo Bling, D-Risha, Kiotti, Mac, Yung Redd, Damien Randle, Yung Truth, Fat Tony
Not Invited: Whoever gave Are We There Yet? the green light.
This Week's Prompt: One of the more enjoyable byproducts of Ice-T's The Art of Rap documentary has been the conversations it ignited. One of the ones that landed in my inbox last week: Which rap group will be regarded as more important in 40 years, Wu-Tang, A Tribe Called Quest or N.W.A.?
Mic Skills: NWA because they brought gangsta rap to the mainstream, including the use of the word "nigga." [Also they] had three important members -- Ice Cube, Dr. Dre and Easy-E -- who went on to make solo hits and/or discover and introduce more talent.
Hip-hop heads will say Tribe or Wu, but ask a die hard hip-hop fan to name a song from any of the three; they'll say "Straight Outta Compton." Funny thing is, I bet Wu and Tribe members would say the same.
Show: N.W.A. They were the bigger groups, and its members have probably had as great an impact on the culture of rap as anyone.
D-Risha: I would love to say the other two, but honestly I have to say N.W.A., mainly because Dr. Dre has produced three decades worth of influential MCs and music that is always in the forefront.
Wu and Tribe are loved by lyric lovers, but they are few and far between. Whatever Dre or Cube co-sign is made official and meant for popular consumption -- white people [laughs] -- to spend lots of money on.
Chingo Bling: N.W.A. because of the polarizing/revolutionary message attacking social issues with the use of L.A. gang culture.
Kiotti: N.W.A. The contribution I feel they made was important because of the type of music they made. Gangsta rap pioneers. Add the fact that Dr. Dre and Ice Cube launched careers that are still going from that N.W.A. platform; game-changers.
E.S.G.: N.W.A. changed the whole outlook on hip-hop as far as gangsta rap; then the accomplishments of Cube and Dre; etc.
Fat Tony: N.W.A.! Because they influenced everybody after 'em, even A Tribe Called Quest; ask Q-Tip what inspired The Low End Theory. I love all three groups. I think N.W.A. is probably the most important and influential rap group every, musically and culturally. Wu-Tang is a close second.
Yung Redd: N.W.A. They didn't conform, ever.
Mac: You know this answer. N.W.A. They started gangsta rap; most controversial group ever.
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Damien Randle: Wu will probably be remembered more because of their [popularity]. History will be kinder to A Tribe Called Quest.
Yung Truth: N.W.A. They sparked one of the most revolutionary changes of direction in hip-hop history.