NWA – Straight Outta Compton, 20th Anniversary Edition

Ground zero for gangster rap, Straight Outta Compton set the tone and style for everything else that followed, with explosive dynamics and lyrics that stand the test of time 20 years later.

The original LP is one of the better early hip-hop records in terms of production, showcasing Dr. Dre’s skills even then.  Those wanting more high-frequency extension and a bigger soundstage will enjoy the original LP. By contrast, the CD is the only choice if you crave the maximum, hardest-driving beats; it has crushing LF energy.

The current remaster squashes most of the dynamic swing out of the record, and while the high frequencies aren’t terribly rolled off and the surfaces quiet, there is no punch, ultimately robbing the album of the energy it requires to get the messages across. The only saving grace is the fourth side, with bonus tracks from Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and Snoop Dogg, as well as a live version of “Compton’s in the House.” But you can get these tracks on the remastered CD, too.  -Jeff Dorgay

Profile, 2LP