N.W.A. formed in Los Angeles in the late 1980s, when an admitted former drug dealer decided to invest his earnings in a record company. The leader of the group, Eazy-E founded Ruthless Records "with money gained illegally on the streets," according to Rolling Stone. He then recruited some of his friends to form a rap act, most notably Ice Cube, who wrote many of the raps on the group's debut album. Other N.W.A. members include producers Dr. Dre and Yella and mixer M.C. Ren. In 1989 N.W.A. released their debut album, Straight Outta Compton, a vivid evocation of the bitter and dangerous world from which the group's members had emerged. The work was decidedly controversial—one song, "F—tha Police," derided police, making claims of brutality. After Straight Outta Compton Ice Cube left the group to pursue a solo career—allegedly, according to Rolling Stone, because of a financial dispute. Because Ice Cube had written many lyrics, the group's 1991 album, Efil4zaggin (read backwards is Niggaz4life), marked a new direction for N.W.A. Nonetheless, the new release occupied the number one spot on the charts without a hit single or play on radio stations and MTV.
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