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Jul 20, 2016

One of the most formidable and influential hip-hop groups of all time, N.W.A paved the way in so may ways, not just for rappers, but for the whole hip-hop and music industry. 2015 saw the release of their blockbuster biopic Straight Outta Compton, and earlier this year, the group achieved the incredible accolade of being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, one of the only hip-hop groups to ever receive the coveted musical recognition.

As N.W.A, Ice Cube, Dr Dre, MC Ren, Eazy-E and DJ Yella, who had previously worked with Dre in World Class Wreckin' Cru, brought the world's attention to the streets, to hip-hop, and to a life and environment formerly unexplored by so many, particularly through songs like "Fuck tha Police", which controversially highlighted issues like racial profiling and police brutality.

We were lucky to ask producer DJ Yella a few questions about the group's legacy, the changing face of hip-hop and the music industry, and more.


Congratulations on being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame earlier this year. What does that honour mean to you?

It's a great honour to be nominated and picked into the 2016 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and a bigger honour to be the first West Coast group to be picked.

With this in mind, what are your thoughts on the legacy N.W.A left for hip-hop today?

It’s crazy because we didn’t even think about nothing like this, we just made music we liked .It’s amazing how it affected so many up and coming artists and how we opened the doors for so many of them like Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent, The Game, the list goes on.

As someone who helped to shape it, what do you make of the current state of hip-hop and its future?

Right now it’s the same thing going on. Not too many groups, just solo artists or guest appearances. Music right now is just sounding the same. Not much separation. It seems like nobody has their own style like it was back in the day, but Hip Hop is still here to stay.


Image: Very Smart Brothas

What did it mean to come from Compton when N.W.A first began, and how is it different for the new generation coming from Compton today?

In the beginning, Compton didn’t mean nothing to nobody, it was like a bad name. It was a name people was scared of and scared to come visit. So we had to change it to something good. So now Kendrick Lamar and The Game put Compton back on the map.

The internet has certainly affected how hip-hop and music in general is created and released today. Has that allowed hip-hop to become greater, or has it lost some of what once made it so important?

The internet has changed music. Not just Hip Hop but all music. It’s made it bigger, stronger but the only down fall is that it seems like it’s starting to be more artists than fans because it’s so easy to make songs now anywhere, in your bedroom, in your garage, wherever. There’s not many big studios no more.

Similarly, how has social media affected music and connecting with fans for you personally?

Social Media is a great thing. It has its ups and downs but it helps you be relevant around the world. People can instantly look you up from all around the world. You can be an instant success or an instant flop.


Considering how important N.W.A has been in terms of a very specific location and culture within the US, what are your thoughts on the way people from all cultures, races, countries etc., interpret and understand that music?

We was probably one of the most rare and neutral groups because our music related to everybody, all races all countries. Our music was just so different. A lot of different cultures from all over the world could relate to it.

What do you have planned throughout the rest of 2016?

Just still DJing all over the world, still spreading that West Coast sound. And of course spreading the word about my new website.

Head here for more on DJ Yella.

Image: Oxford Art Factory

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