September 5, 2008

N.W.A. - 100 Miles and Runnin' (August 16, 1990)

1990 saw the release of former N.W.A. member Ice Cube's solo debut, AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted, an angry album that provided a showcase for arguably the finest writer in the crew. Having left the crew thanks to monetary issues (primarily the issue of not receiving his fair share of publishing, and always having to pitch in for MC Ren's contribution whenever the group ordered out for pizza, especially when getting the pizza was Ren's fucking idea in the first place), he opted to adopt a sligtly more mature outlook: indeed, a quick spin of AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted will show that Cube never actually mentions his former bandmates at all (a passing mention is made to the situation as a whole, but the group is never called out by name, and neither are any of his former friends).

N.W.A., in contrast, had no such hangups.

Cube left the group after their first actual album, Straight Outta Compton, was met with wide critical acclaim and a record number of, um, record sales. In an effort to shift the focus away from the man they dubbed a traitor, Dr. Dre, MC Ren, Eazy-E, and DJ Yella quickly recorded and released a five-track EP called 100 Miles and Runnin'. It quickly sold out in stores and eventually earned N.W.A. another gold plaque, thus proving that awareness of the group from the media's perspective was high.

Dre, Ren, and Eazy consistently address their former comrade throughout the duration of the first couple of songs (referring to Cube as 'Benedict Arnold', a nickname which would transfer over to the crew's next full-length release), and their disappointment in Cube's decision to leave over financial issues is both readily apparent and kind of groundbreaking. Needing to fill the void, Dr. Dre steps behind the mic with much more regularity than he ever had before, and had he not done this, who knows where his solo career would be today. Ren sounds as crafty as ever, and Eazy-E, whose rhymes were now written by MC Ren and group affiliate The D.O.C. in tandem, sounded, for lack of a better word, concise, if not as charged as he once was while reciting O'Shea's speeches.

100 Miles and Runnin' ultimately provided enough music to whet the appetites of the millions of suburban white kids who lived vicariously through the gangsta acts depicted in verse by Dre, Ren, and Eric Wright. DJ Yella and Dr. Dre tried their best to create a different sound, in a further effort to deviate from their origins, and although Dre gets the majority of the credit for the production, Yella deserves a pat on the back, as well. But only one pat: if Yella were responsible for more of the music provided on here, he shouldn't have a problem producing for rap acts today by himself, right?


The beat puts you into exactly the right mindset for an N.W.A. return, with a newer sound that bore only the slightest resemblance to what the group had done previously. Dr. Dre sounds so intense behind the mic that you may not recognize him until he says his own name in his rhyme, as most rappers are prone to do. Nice reference to The Warriors, by the way.

2. REAL N----Z
Ren and Andre pass the mic back and forth (with a brief cameo by Eazy-E), addressing the expectations which were placed upon them, which they were projected to surpass, regardless of the loss of a productive member of their executive staff. This is essentially a State of the Union set to a rap beat.

Completely ridiculous and misogynistic, but at the same time, this is gangsta rap: that's not an excuse, but it is a reason. This isn't really any different from any other gangsta rap act out there, except for the musical portion of it. For what it is, it's not horrible, at least, not until the end of the track, as I truly never needed to ever hear the experience that is acted out during the outro. Sigh.

4. SA PRIZE, PT. 2
After an extremely long intro, this song is revealed to be a sequel to "Fuck Tha Police" (which makes sense, since The World's Most Dangerous Group never had a song called "Sa Prize" in their back catalog), except, of course, minus the presence of O'Shea Jackson. The courtroom motif of the original is abandoned in favor of several skits and interludes explaining why you, too, should be on the lookout for corrupt, racist police officers to generally fuck up: the only downside is that they're essentially preaching to the choir, as corrupt, racist police officers actually are pretty easy to hate and want to fuck up, thanks. The original song is much better, not just musically, but because it had more of an impact on the psyche of America: there wasn't anything like it prior to its release. However, Dre, Ren, Eazy, and Yella's attempt to expand their scope (with some assists from The D.O.C.) is much appreciated.

A glorified rap album outro-slash-commercial (hey, I just got it!) for N.W.A.'s upcoming album, whose title was apparently revealed for the very first time on this track. It appears in a backmasked, creepy-as-fuck-sounding form (the album was to be called N----z4life, but when played backward, it sounds a bit like Efil4zaggin, and as such, that became the album's title). Over an unquestionably fucking dope Dre beat (the one which Tim Dog jacked for the intro of Penicillin On Wax: also, Nas, Ja Rule, DMX, and Method Man also liberally borrowed it for their unintentionally boring collaboration "Grand FInale" from the Belly soundtrack), Ren and company talk a massive amount of shit while the same backmasked sample repeats "Efil4zaggin" over and over again, making you believe that Lucifer himself is trying to tell you to murder your parents and/or buy the next N.W.A. album. Possibly both.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Obviously 100 Miles and Runnin' is not an actual "album", so complaining about a lack of cohesiveness is not very productive. This disc was only released as an effort to keep N.W.A. awareness high after the controversial departure of the primary songwriter, Ice Cube, and other than the heightened vocal presence of Andre Young and the production, 100 Miles and Runnin' proves that it was simply business as usual in the Ruthless Records offices. Speaking of Dre, the producer that we're all most familiar with started peeking out from behind the curtains with this EP release, as the sonic backdrops he brings to the table are light-years beyond the old-school flavor from Straight Outta Compton. However, there are only five songs on this disc, which is not enough to make a valid comparison between the two projects.

BUY OR BURN? This EP is not a necessary addition to your CD collection. I suppose that you could simply burn it if you really wanted it now, but when I get to the next N.W.A. album write-up, you'll find that there is another alternative. For now, let it be known that, while this EP was probably the shit to own in 1990 (some of my older two fans may have run out to the store to pick this disc up when it hit shelves), today it doesn't amount to much. At least, it doesn't by itself...

BEST TRACKS: "100 Miles and Runnin'"


Read up on the other N.W.A.-related posts by clicking here.


  1. It took me literall 2 years before even taking this album seriously. I still can't really put this into my stereo and expect anything solid out of it. But... If I put it on the Efil4Zaggin playlist, then its like adding more "meat" to the later album.

  2. i saw the emerging mysogonist in my brother when we copped this...just don't bite it was his favourite joint, he kept playing it over and over...not that i minded at the time, i dug it too