It goes without saying that NWA’s Straight Outta Compton album is essential for fans of gangsta rap. The group’s next EP, 100 Miles And Runnin’ is another must have thanks to Sa Prize (Part 2) and to this blistering title track.
100 Miles And Runnin’ was NWA’s first release without Ice Cube. Cube had gone solo rather than sign with Eazy-E and Jerry Heller’s Ruthless Records, as melodramatically and one-sidedly explained in the 2015 biopic Straight Outta Compton.
This saw Dr Dre stepping up, both his production alongside DJ Yella, and to a bigger role on the mic as the third rapper alongside E and MC Ren. The multi-layered, Bomb Squad-like production provided a powerful energy to back up the ferocity of the vocals for the first time. It felt like a big step forward for the group.
Sa Prize (Part 2) is a sequel/update to NWA’s classic Fuck Tha Police. But Sa Prize, with its additional dynamism and more extreme snippets of police brutality, almost feels like the definite version.
100 Miles And Runnin’ is a variation on the NWA vs Cops theme with E, Ren, Yella and Dre on a desperate mission to get back to the safety of Compton, pursued by the police and the FBI. It’s fast-paced, frantic and relentless. Dre and Yella’s searing backing track includes a swathe of samples from Herbie Hancock, Michael Jackson, Funkadelic, Isaac Hayes, The Beastie Boys and (naturally) James Brown.
100 Miles And Runnin’ was released in 1990, at the peak of gangsta rap. Back then the subgenre was still largely underground, still had the power to shock and hadn’t yet slipped into self-parody. But by this time it also had the additional production quality that contributed to its attack and the funkiest samples could be liberally mixed in without the need to pay royalties.
Despite this, NWA’s ascent stalled with the disappointing next album, Efil4zaggin. It lacked the inspiration and focus of its predecessors and got distracted by the continuing beef with Ice Cube. 100 Miles And Runnin’ however, remains a classic of both NWA and hip-hop in general.