It’s a family affair, and everyone’s invited. Eazy, Cube, Dre, Ren, Yella: Pack your bags. Warren G, Mack 10, Snoop: You’re coming, too. Bring your friends.
Included on N.W.A. and Their Family Tree are street-knowledge essentials “Straight Outta Compton,” “Express Yourself” and “Dopeman” as well as solo joints such as the every-hood anthem “It Was a Good Day” (Ice Cube) and the G-funk corniness of “We Want Eazy” (Eazy-E). As N.W.A. reached its splintered end, its influential roots were planted deep, but as the tree extends, this compilation starts to loosen. Above the Law’s “V.S.O.P.,” Bad Azz’s “We Be Puttin’ It Down” and Mack 10’s “Foe Life” aren’t doing the N.W.A. legacy any favors, though Westside Connection’s “Bow Down” and Yo-Yo’s “You Can’t Play With My Yo-Yo” are refreshing blasts from the past.
Strangely enough, despite its 18 tracks, Family Tree feels awfully cursory. But regardless of quality, this all begs one big question: Why? A solid Greatest Hits album already exists, not to mention the extensive (but OOP) N.W.A. Legacy set, which delved into the group’s extended family tree back in 1999. The best answer seems to be that the disc is a product companion to VH1’s latest documentary, N.W.A.: The World’s Most Dangerous Group, which debuts on the network this Friday. Featuring rare footage and early interviews, the 90-minute film features new conversations with Ice Cube, Eazy-E’s widow Tomica Woods-Wright, director John Singleton and the group’s former manager Jerry Heller, among others. Check the doc, but stick with the old comps for your stereo fix.