In 1988, with the double-platinum album Straight Outta Compton, N.W.A brought gangsta rap into the mainstream. The record was among the first to offer an insider's perspective of the violence and brutality of gang-ridden South Central L.A. With songs like "Fuck tha Police" and "Gangsta Gangsta" set in a chaotic swirl of siren and gunshot sounds, it also foreshadowed the 1992 L.A. riots.
In 1986, O'Shea "Ice Cube" Jackson, born and raised in a two-parent, middle-class home in South Central—and always more interested in music and books than in gangs—met Andre "Dr. Dre" Young, who shared Cube's passion for writing rap songs. The two started writing for Eric "Eazy-E" Wright, a former drug dealer who started Ruthless Records with his profits. Eazy needed material for a group he'd signed to the label, HBO. When HBO rejected Cube and Dre's song "Boyz-n-the-Hood," about the South Central town of Compton, Eazy-E decided to record the song himself and the three started working together as Niggaz With Attitude (N.W.A).