Though they disbanded nearly two decades ago, N.W.A has been nearly inescapable the last few weeks.
Their biopic film has been a huge success, topping the box office for the last two weeks, setting off a firestorm of praise along with some not-so-flattering discussion about Dr. Dre's past persona. The latest headlines surrounding the seminal group are very positive, although kind of unbelieveable. As Billboard reported, N.W.A's "Straight Outta Compton" debuted at number 38 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart for the week of September 5, a remarkable but understandable accomplishment for a song that was first released in 1988. But more notably and mindblowing-ly, it's N.W.A first ever top 100 hit.
The record was still eligible despite being first released so long ago, as older songs can still chart if they rank in the top 50 and show "notable gains in sales, streaming and/or airplay." Not only did "Straight Outta Compton" (the song) sell 35,000 downloads in the week ending August 20, but also garnered 5.7 million streams in the U.S. (via Nielsen Music). Both stats were up over 120% from the week prior. N.W.A-affiliated albums from Dre, Cube and Eazy similarly took over the charts this week, taking over 10 spots on the Billboard 200 chart.
So far removed from N.W.A's heyday, it's slightly stunning to realize the group found such little success on the charts previously. It makes perfect sense, though, when you put it in the context of the music landscape back in 1988, but for a group so pioneering, revered and influential, it's easy to assume they earned more accolades than they did. It goes to show that influence is not always tied to commercial success, and that N.W.A's impact was much more far-reaching than just the radio. I mean, not having a Top 100 hit until 2015? Really?
[By Brendan Varan. He did not stream "Straight Outta Compton" this week, but he did listen to "Just Don't Bite It." Follow him on Twitter.]