Finding The GOAT Group: N.W.A. vs. Public Enemy. Who Is Better?
“Finding the GOAT Group,” the fourth installment of Ambrosia For Heads’ annual competition series features Hip-Hop’s greatest collectives vying for the #1 spot. Sixty-two groups have been pre-selected by a panel of experts, and one slot will be reserved for a wild-card entry (which has been determined), including the possibility for write-in candidates, to ensure no deserving band of MCs and DJs is neglected. The 2018 contest consists of seven rounds, NCAA basketball-tournament style, leading to a Top 32, then the Sweet 16, an Elite 8, and so on, until one winner is determined. For each match-up, two groups are pitted against one another with a ballot to decide which one advances to the next round. Though there will be an enormous amount of debate in comments, on social media, in barbershops and text messages, which we encourage, only votes cast in the official ballot count.
Thirty years ago, Public Enemy and N.W.A. worked together on the Bring The Noise Tour. From different coasts, and using different lexicons, both of these groups were about challenging systems of oppression, fighting the power, and boldly moving minds right along with butts. They had some lighthearted fun along the way too. Today, they are both Rap delegates in the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame. N.W.A.’s unified run lasted less than five years and released two albums, an EP, and an early compilation. Meanwhile, P.E. has dropped more than a dozen albums and maintained an ironclad bond that has lasted since the first half of the 1980s. While Eazy-E’s squad achieved a #1 album in 1991, P.E. has five Grammy nominations and is in that academy’s hall of fame as well. Both of these acts defied the mainstream and made their way into the conversation without compromise. Beloved by fans, the second Elite 8 match-up will inevitably bring some new noise. Make sure you vote to be heard.
When Hip-Hop Heads think of West Coast groups, N.W.A. steps forth is one of the first and most impactful. The Compton, California-based quintet of Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, Ice Cube, MC Ren, and DJ Yella ushered Gangsta Rap to the mainstream consciousness during the late 1980s, spawning classic material both as a group and separated as solo artists. The group’s proper debut, Straight Outta Compton, produced songs that were monumental and made some of the boldest statements Rap music has ever witnessed: “F*ck Tha Police,” “Gangsta Gangsta,” and “Straight Outta Compton.” In between the pageantry of gun-toting, carousing, misogynist gangsters on the edge of sanity, Ni**az Wit Attitudes could speak for the voiceless far beyond Hub City. Arguably, the collective lost its best lyricist (Cube) after just one album. By 1991, the remaining four disbanded. In less than four years, leader Eazy-E was diagnosed with AIDS and passed away shortly after. In just two albums and a compilation, these brothers gave Gangsta Rap an Attitude that still rings strong.
When Rock & Roll Hall of Famers Public Enemy formed in the mid-1980s, their mission was to disrupt the status quo of not just the Rap industry, but all of Pop culture. During the Long Island, New York collective’s formative years, the Black community was being ripped apart by rampant drug abuse, political disenfranchisement, and lulled by the apparent whitewashing of mainstream media. True to their name and logo, P.E. stood out as targets for combating these forces with truths—about oppression, inequality, and a media agenda. Chuck D stood as the front-man and the booming voice of power. Flavor Flav played hype-man and a jester in the commanding court. Meanwhile, martial arts expert Professor Griff led the group’s military aesthetic including S1W soldiers. DJ Terminator X’s scratches matched the energy of the delivery in this high-powered demonstration. P.E. debuted with an iconic hat trick of three LPs: Yo! Bum Rush The Show, It Takes A Nation Millions To Hold Us Back, and Fear Of A Black Planet. The groundbreaking sampling techniques of their in-house production crew The Bomb Squad on songs such as “Don’t Believe The Hype,” “Fight The Power” and “Welcome To The Terrordome” pushed the boundaries for Rap music. In more than 30 years, P.E. has never slowed its roll or ceased operations. On the road and in the studio, the group with more than 14 albums continues to deliver a message to the masses.
So who is the better Hip-Hop group? Make sure you vote above.