Music HistoryRecommended Reading

New NWA Biography Entertaining and Accurate Account of Rap Group’s Influence

Last year Straight Outta Compton was met with huge success. Even just the hype was massive. People were changing their profile pictures on Facebook. The movie was given fantastic ratings and positive reviews from the critics. Despite some more problematic aspects of the group’s history being brushed to the side, it seemed like everyone was in love with the movie. It was a good movie, I will admit.

This year a new NWA biography is being released on September 13. Original Gangstas: The Untold Story of Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, Ice Cube, Tupac Shakur, and the Birth of West Coast Rap by Ben Westhoff took five years to research, but he managed to create a cohesive, entertaining, and accurate read.

Westhoff gets into the lesser-known facts about the band members. From NY Daily News:

“At 5-foot-4, the kid named Eric Wright knew what it took to get respect. He talked tough and amassed flashy cars, clothes and sunglasses.

“But Westhoff describes a more complicated figure than most fans know. In his early 20s, Wright would wake up early to read the Los Angeles Times. He didn’t get high and didn’t drink. Later as Eazy-E, the 40-oz bottle of malt liquor he brandished onstage was actually apple juice”.

Furthermore, where Straight Outta Compton avoids Dr. Dre’s more unpleasant side regarding women in his life, Westhoff does not shy away. He tells of Dre’s physical abuse towards women he impregnated — including an underage girl named Lisa Johnson who became pregnant by Dre three times.

“Michel’le Toussaint has bravely gone public, often and loudly, with the story of her repeated abuse at the hands of Dre.

“Toussaint, who had a son, Marcel, with Dre and later married Suge Knight, says Dre repeatedly beat her and once broke her nose so badly she had to have a nose job. One night he fired a shot that barely missed her”.

There were other women who were assaulted by Dre, whom Westhoff does not fail to mention, but he does also take a look at Dre’s positive points, too. Such as the rapper’s ability to produce music that would not only sell to black youth, but also appeal to white suburban youth. Despite his violent abuse, you can’t deny that Dr. Dre is a creative genius when it comes to making hip hop. Kids who had never experienced close to the same thing as what NWA had were able to really enjoy the group’s gangsta rap.

For those truly interested in music history and wanting to know the truth behind some of the biggest musicians, Ben Westhoff’s Original Gangsta’s is definitely a book to check out. It tells of the massive highs NWA rode as well as discussing the darker parts of their history and doesn’t take quite the same artistic liberties that a Hollywood movie does.

Pre-order the book here.

2 thoughts on “New NWA Biography Entertaining and Accurate Account of Rap Group’s Influence

  • Thanks for the kind words about my book. One note: Lisa Johnson was underage when she had her first baby with Dr. Dre — but so was Dr. Dre. They were both under 18.

    • Thanks for the comment and the correction!


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