To celebrate the 25 year anniversary of N.W.A.’s Efil4zaggin (you may know the album by Niggaz4Life) I’m ranking each beat on the classic album. An album that received less than a whisper on the recent Hollywood blockbuster Straight Outta Compton. The production which is co-handled by Dr. Dre and DJ Yella puts us in a time capsule where you jump inside the doctor’s mind as he begins to develop his iconic G-Funk sound. You can argue that N.W.A.’s message may have been distorted with the album but the can argue the complexity and ingenuity behind Efil4zaggin’s instrumentals.
Side note there is over.
1) Real Niggaz Don’t Die
This beat SCREAMS that the G apocalypse is coming. With hard scratches and a Hip Hop “Hell’s Bell’s” type anthem this instrumental finds the perfect groove that leads you down a grim and destructive path. By masterfully interweaving multiple samples within the chorus we see the positivity inside the dark premise with the inclusion of a vocal snippet from “Rare Earth” stating “I just want to celebrate”. This set’s the tone for N.W.A. , even with all of the media backlash they’re still rejoicing their success.
2) Appetite For Destruction
Right from the get-go with “Appetite For Destruction” you can hear Dr. Dre evolving his craft into what we would later know as G-Funk. With an eery repetitious chime and thick baseline, you’re instantly thrown into n a Hollywood horror chase scene with the villain right over your shoulder. Once the hook drops you’re thrown into an abrupt yet cohesive set of samples that keeps the beat fresh makes your ear eager to jump right back into the dark and turbulent verse.
3) NWA Alwayz Into Somethin’
This track would help lay the foundation for the G-funk era, with a chopped up guitar riff from Jimi Hendrix and a whining synthesizer you can instantly visualize yourself rolling by the lake in a Chevy Impala. By flipping Bob James‘ horns and using a James Brown’s grunt harmoniously layered throughout the production your ear is always being teased and wanting more.
4) Approach To Danger
You better hold on to your blanket because we’re given another dark, mysterious, almost horrific vibe that will make you want to lock your doors at night. That’s exactly where Dre and Yella wanted to take you when they were cutting up an eery sample from the Magnum Force soundtrack. With mysterious screams, dark electric guitar riffs, and ghostly moans this is the perfect setup for a song that’s looking to scare its audience straight.
Cutting up and flipping Issac Haye’s wild and funky track Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic, Dr. Dre and Yella were able to find a piano chord that would tone that for the album. With a deep baseline and hard melody we of N.W.A.’s dark motivated beat that grabs your attention and keeps your heads bouncing.
6) Real Niggaz
As soon as the beat kicks you’re placed into a deep psychedelic vibe that keeps your focus by timely placing eclectic horns as you ride to the beat. The production masterfully energizes you by finding breaks that give an edge that cohesively fits the vibe of the album.
With an eery cut up horn from Tom Browne
and a smooth piano sample from Barry White
, we’re given a dark G track setup by Dre and Yella. The track shines on its simplicity but is layered with slight scratches and aggressive whistles (think gym class) to bring chaos to an already troubling journey that we’re driving down.
8) Niggaz 4 Life
From the outside looking in it’s easy to think that “Niggaz 4 Life” is just a few funky chords that provide a melody that will make any MC shine. Once your ear picks up the depth and complexities of the composition you begin to understand just how the production is taken to the next level. On top of a slippery baseline, we get layered chaos that’s so elegantly chopped up that you barely notice how multiple cuts are infused together to give you a funky groove.
9) The Dayz Of Wayback
The vocal cuts on the track can easily be transfused into a darker tone like previous tracks but the Dre and Yella choose to mix in more positive feel. It perfectly fits for a track reminiscing of the past with a positive vibe and laid back tone.
10) I’d Rather Fuck You
Years later DJ Yella would produce over 300 porno films, “I’d Rather Fuck You” may be where he got his inspiration. Right, away you feel like you’re in a porno yourself with a sample from aBootsy’s Rubber Band (amazing name!) which gives the beat it’s erotic feel. The hook also plays the original cut but switches up the theme from “I’d rather be with you” to “I’d rather fuck with you”.
11) She Swallowed It
One of the beautiful elements of Efil4zaggin’s is the roots of the album with its funk infused instrumental. With “She Swallowed It” you get a groovy guitar riff flipped from The Meters that makes the beat know which seamlessly transitions to a muti-layered hook that teases the audience to an erotic tone.
12) Findum, Fuckum & Flee
With a funky bassline, catchy melody, and comedic layered snippets we get one of the albums lighter productions. By finding The Meters laid back groove in Rigor Mortis, Dre and Yella were able to build a joyous melody that keeps the beat in line with the theme of Niggaz4Life.
Unlike the previous beat (FFF) Automobile feels nothing like any another Dre and Yella production. With an old western piano melody, we get an instrumental that gives an MC a corny but fun beat to rhyme to.