Rap Music | St. Louis Public Radio

Rap Music

The albums "Straight Outta Compton and "It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back," are shown with other albums at Vintage Vinyl. The two albums have inspired a wider variety of hip-hop artists for three decades.
Chad Davis | St. Louis Public Radio

Two seminal hip-hop albums are now 30 years old.

"It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back" by Public Enemy and "Straight Outta Compton" by N.W.A. ushered in a new direction for the genre with lyrics that exposed conditions in black communities to white audiences.

The St. Louis region has a long history with hip-hop. An East St. Louis radio station was one of the first to broadcast the first mainstream hip-hop song, “Rapper’s Delight.” And of course, the city has its own stars, Nelly and Chingy. But the death of Michael Brown, the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement and incidents of police misconduct have brought the lyrics and themes of the two albums back to the forefront.

2Pac (Tupac Shakur), Ice Cube (O'Shea Jackson Sr.) and Eazy-E (Eric Lynn Wright).
Wikimedia Commons

St. Louis-based journalist and author Ben Westhoff has written for outlets such as Rolling Stone, Vice, NPR, and the Wall Street Journal. He also wrote for the Riverfront Times and is the former music editor of L.A. Weekly.