N.W.A and Their Family Tree

by: Various Artists

It's hard not to shiver as Priority's N.W.A Family Tree compilation opens with the iconic line "You are now about to witness the strength of street knowledge." One quick scan down the track list and the hip-hop faithful know there are more unforgiving and/or provocative gangster rap masterpieces to come, but the concept here is more the stuff of historical magazine articles than it is something on which to build a mixtape. Sure, Warren G and Nate Dogg are from the West Coast and their "Regulate" is filled with California street knowledge, but past that, the track owes as much to N.W.A as thousands of other gangster rap songs, and a couple hundred of those are better choices for the concept at hand. If this set really wanted to follow the evolution from "Straight Outta Compton" to Snoop Dogg's "Lay Low," there would be more of Dr. Dre's work for the Death Row label included. Instead, there's the forgotten G-Funk of Bad Azz. Looks and sounds like Priority made do with what was at hand rather than pay the high licensing fees, so put this poorly sequenced West Coast party on shuffle, give thanks the label has so much prime material to play with, and then ponder why such a rich catalog repeatedly gets shoe horned into thematically unsound collections that don't even include liner notes. ~ David Jeffries

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