Enter 36 Chambers VS Straight Outta Compton
Tyson vs Muhammad Ali; Jordan vs Lebron; Batman vs Wolverine; Wu-Tang’s “Enter 36 Chambers” vs N.W.A “Straight Outta Compton.” We all love a good comparison. Hip Hop loves a good comparison. Hell, it’s the entire backbone of rap music. Who has the best album, the best hook, who’s the richest, who’s wife has the biggest booty, who’s the lyrical master, the best dresser etc. We the consumers are exactly the same. I mean how many times have you been apart of the Top 5 debate or listed your top ten albums. I’m guilty myself.
Earlier today I had some of the peeps over to hang on this Father’s Day Weekend (Happy Fathers Day to all the Dads). We were drinking and hanging out in the green room listening to the iPod on random. Gangsta Gangsta blared through the Beats Pill, which was followed by Shame on A Nigga. That sequence of music seemed to spark some conversation. Who’s better Wu-Tang or N.W.A? We discussed their albums, singles, fashion, production, who was lyrically superior. Then my cousin Darrell asked the end all be all question…..Who had the better debut album, Wu-Tang Clan or NWA?
Loaded Question for sure, but let’s create a few categories and determine which debut was superior
“Straight Outta Compton” was produced entirely by Dr. Dre and Yella. And it was the perfect soundtrack to their violent and provocative lyrics. This was early Dre, so the album was void of any G Funk. The music was effective instrumental touches that accentuated the violent lyrics. “Straight Outta Compton” was the first song and the music was nothing complex. Just a simple loop of horns that sound like something that would be playing on a roller coaster to hell. “Fuck The Police” has to be one of the most controversial pieces of music in the history of the universe. The song started with a funky saxophone while in N.W.A court. The instrumental was the perfect background for Ice Cube’s frustration and you can’t help but bob your head. Once you get to the hook, you feel like you are in the twilight zone. The music to this song just has many different parts and highlighted Dre’s production skills. Another stand out is “Parental Discretion Iz Advised“. The whole crew (The D.O.C. included) gets busy on a smooth, butter track that sampled my favorite Isley Brothers song, “I Turned You On”. It’s a funky, jazzy ride though some vulgar lyrics and is oh so wonderful.
“Enter the 36 Chambers” was produced entirely by The RZA. He was able to take the use of obscure soul samples and mix it up with clips from kung fu flicks. Crazy combination just like a Future and Patti Labelle duet. Every single song the RZA was cooked up sounded low budget and it was perfect. What a stark difference to all the other music at the time. “Clan in the Front” used a schizophrenic piano sample that sounded perfect over GZA’s lesson for the day. “The 7th Chamber” was another menacing beat utilizing a piano. This one sounds like something the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles would listen to down in the sewers on the way to visit Master Splinter. “Can It Be All So Simple” and “C.R.E.A.M.”(my favorite use of a sample ever. Go find it asap. The Charmells) are both self explanatory. I am sure you heard and recognize both as classic.
Production Winner : * Wu-Tang Clan *
“Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)”
(prod by The RZA)
Think NBA Finals Game 7, win by 5 points.
Very Close, but there are a few songs that are fillers on Straight Outta Compton. Did anyone actually like “Something 2 Dance 2” The forward key was disabled on the WU album.
The lyrical abilities of MC’s RZA, GZA, Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, U-God, Masta Killa, Ol’ Dirty Bastard and Cappadonna. are proof. Never before has a group with this many MC’s storm on the scene and outrap anyone in the room. 36 chambers not only featured a couple of solo joints, but also had songs that would spotlight 7 MC’s on one song. From ODB’s playful crazy antics, Rae & Ghost’s story telling, Method Man’s rough delivery, RZA’s razor sharp word play to GZA’s lyrical wizardry; all were components of the Wu Tang chemistry. All members have released a slew of solo releases and have all cemented their legacy in hip hop history. A few members of Wu-Tang will more than likely show up on many top 10 MC lists.
Whoa. What a way to start an album. This was 1988 and never before has album hit you over the head in the first 15 seconds quite like Straight Outta Compton. Ice Cube and MC Ren handled a majority of the writing and was able to create vivid tales that virtually birthed gangsta rap. Sure there was Schooly D and Ice T prior. But Ice Cube reporting the violence, misogyny and police brutality are vivid and graphic. “Gangsta Gangsta” is Cube at his finest. He vividly portrays a character in his neighborhood that is not to be fucked with. He picking fights, dissing chicks and robbing fools. Just when you thought the entire song was violent, he ends the song by saying
“Now I’m dressed in the county blues”
MC Ren is more than adept on the mic. He is a great storyteller and a perfect teammate for Cube. He is able to hold his own depicting violence through his rhymes. At this point, Eazy wasn’t much of a rapper, but Cube was able to write his rhymes. He even mentioned this in “8 Ball (Remix)”
“Ice Cube writes the rhymes that I say”
Lyrical Winner : * Wu-Tang Clan *
Think NBA Finals 4-1.
Lyrically Wu-Tang rhymes circles around NWA; however, Ice Cube has been rapping for over 20 years and is one of the best storytellers in hip hop ever!!!
Straight Outta Compton is an album that is the first if its kind and a pioneer in West Coast music. Their “in your face, don’t give a fuck” attitude inspired other rappers not only from Compton but across the country to say what they want to. They put Compton on the map and busted down doors for future Compton representers like DJ Quik, MC Eiht, the rest of Compton’s Most Wanted, King Tee, The Game and Kendrick Lamar to drop their jewels for us. Who can forget this is the album that got the FBI all bent out of shape over a song by some rappers. Straight Outta Compton also allowed Dre to further hone his craft and gave us something called The Chronic. This album also was the start of Ice Cube impressive solo career and would toss him up to the upper echelon of lyricists. The legacy of this album carries on today. I mean the movie was nominated for an Oscar.
Wu Tang’s 36th Chamber was razor sharp when it dropped in 93. That time period still had our favorite 80s rappers making music and Dre had all of hip hop in a Full Nelson. Wu Tang busted through the door with a murky soundscape that completely changed music forever. 9 MC’s were introduced and they were able to kick off the greatest period of hip hop. 36 Chambers laid down the pavement for Mobb Deep, B.I.G., Jay-Z, Nas, Boot Camp Clik, Shyheim among others.
Influence Winner : * N.W.A *
Think NBA Finals 4-2
50 years from now, Straight Outta Compton will still be considered as an influential album. Lot of great things were birthed from that album including Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, Snoop and The Beats headphones I’m enjoying right now. 36 chambers may be one of the best albums ever, but the influence of N.W.A’s debut cannot be touched.
** Winner : Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) *
Lets take a squared circle and put 36 Chambers against Straight Outta Compton. Album against album. The winner is 36 Chambers. Now N.W.A’s may be the most influential group ever. They said things on record never heard before and that resonates almost 30 years later. The first three songs off Straight Outta Compton are perhaps the best 3 track start to any hip hop album ever! (I wonder if anyone have ever done that list) The album loses its luster after that. There are a few other notable tracks, but much of that album is fast forward friendly. 36 Chambers is solid the entire ride through. Whether it’s ODB’s shenanigans on “Shame on a Nigga” or the perfect story telling by Ghost and RZA on “Tearz”, the outcome is crystal clear. 36 Chambers is a better album than Straight Outta Compton.