Twenty-six years and many incarnations ago, they came straight outta Compton – and now Dr. Dre and Ice Cube are together again on the cover of Rolling Stone. In the cover story, on stands Friday, senior writer Brian Hiatt hangs out with Cube and Dre, as well as the other surviving members of N.W.A, M.C. Ren and DJ Yella, to go deep on the real, wild story of the world’s most dangerous hip-hop group. The movie version of their career, Straight Outta Compton, (from Friday director F. Gary Gray) hits theaters August 14th; Compton, Dre’s guest-star-filled companion album to the movie, is already out.
In the feature, Cube says he wanted the movie to provide some much-needed context for N.W.A’s songs: “You had to see why we did the music. You know, not just ‘we were young, angry niggas out of South Central,’ but why did we make those kind of records? We were living in the middle of dope dealing, gangbanging, police brutality, fucking Reaganomics, and there was nowhere to escape.”
Watch the film’s stars O’Shea Jackson Jr., Corey Hawkins and Jason Mitchell talk about their favorite N.W.A songs and check out key revelations from the interviews:
Dr. Dre never got close to a finished version of Detox, the long-in-the-works album he scrapped in favor of Compton.
“I had between 20 and 40 songs for Detox, and I just couldn’t feel it. Usually I can hear the sequence of an album as I’m going, but I wasn’t able to do that. I wasn’t feeling it in my gut. So I really thought I was done being an artist.”
Dre addresses the 1991 incident when he assaulted TV host Dee Barnes, as well as recent charges of physical abuse by his Nineties girlfriend Michel’le.
“I made some fucking horrible mistakes in my life,” says Dre. “I was young, fucking stupid. I would say all the allegations aren’t true – some of them are. Those are some of the things that I would like to take back. It was really fucked up. But I paid for those mistakes, and there’s no way in hell that I will ever make another mistake like that again.”
Cube laughs off N.W.A’s lyrical treatment of women (which, to be fair, got way worse after he left the group).
“If you’re a bitch, you’re probably not going to like us,” he says. “If you’re a ho, you probably don’t like us. If you’re not a ho or a bitch, don’t be jumping to the defense of these despicable females. Just like I shouldn’t be jumping to the defense of no punks or no cowards or no slimy son of a bitches that’s men. I never understood why an upstanding lady would even think we’re talking about her.”
Dr. Dre reveals the real reason he can come off as a distant figure.
“I have social anxiety,” he says. “I don’t like being in the spotlight, so I made a fucking weird career choice.” He laughs. “That’s the reason for my mystique and why I’m so secluded and why everybody knows nothing about me. I think it added to the character in the movie because people get a chance to see behind the curtain.”