I’ve never been a huge fan of posthumously released albums. I can count on one hand, actually, I can trim that down to two fingers, on how many posthumous albums I’ve ever liked: Biggie’s Life After Death and Pac’s, excuse me, Makaveli’s The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory. I personally don’t count either as a posthumous album, since Life After Death was completely done at the time of Biggie’s death and released just two weeks after he passed, and I’m pretty sure The 7 Day Theory was close to completion at the time of Pac’s untimely demise. But technically speaking, since they were both released after their deaths, they are considered posthumous albums. But most rappers’ posthumous (I’m getting tired of typing that word!) albums don’t walk the same path and are normally stuffed with a bunch of old freestyles, random unreleased shit, cameo appearances from other artists to fill in the gaps, all placed over a bunch of beats with no cohesion in an attempt for the label to make a quick buck off of the deceased rapper’s name with no regards to the quality of the music or how it may affect the rapper’s legacy. So, when I found Eazy’s first posthumously released album, Str8 Off Tha Streetz Of Muthaphukkin Compton a few months ago, I was hesitant to buy it. But since I’ve already written about the rest of his catalog, the completionist in me forced me to, and here we are.
Str8 Off Tha Streetz was released ten months after Easy passed away from AIDS-induced pneumonia on March 26, 1995. Rumor has it that most of the songs on Str8 Off Tha Streetz were incomplete leftover Eazy-E scraps that his long-time friend and former NWA bredrin, DJ Yella, recovered from a double album project Eazy was working on back in 1993 that never saw the light of day. Str8 Off Tha Streetz would receive mixed reviews, but regardless of the critics’ opinions, the album was a commercial success that would go on to earn the late rapper another gold plaque.
This marks the first time I’ve ever listened to Str8 Off Tha Streetz. Hopefully, it defies the odds of most rap posthumous (there goes that word again!) albums, but that won’t be an…easy task. Pun intended.
First Power – The album begins with a gunshot, followed by semi-spooky sounding piano chords, as Eazy jumps back into his “devil’s son-in-law” persona and shares a few demonic opening words.
Ole School Shit – Eazy is joined by his “Real Muthaphuckkin G’s” alumni, Gangsta Dresta and B.G. Knocc Out, as well as female emcee, Sylk, as they continue to feud with Death Row Records, waging their war of words over a dark and hard Yella produced instrumental. It was pretty amusing to hear B.G. Knocc Out stumble during the middle of his verse, and instead of punching him in or having him do another take, they kept the mistake, and you can hear Eazy instructing him to “pick it back up”; and he manages to recover, nicely. Despite B.G. Knocc Out’s microphone mishap, every party involved does a serviceable job, making the first song of the evening pretty damn entertaining.
Sorry Louie – Eazy uses this one to rap praises to a unique weapon of choice: his Louisville Slugger. Over the course of three verses, E shares a few sticky encounters that he’s forced to pull out his Louie and bash a few heads in with. The contents kind of gory, but it’s all in jest (I think), and Eazy’s high-pitch vocal and choppy flow sounds nice over Bobcat’s raw and rugged boom-bap. The vocal snippets (taken from the movie Apology) laced throughout the song add to its already menacing nature.
Just Tah Let U Know – Apparently, this was the lead and only single released from Str8 Off Tha Streetz. This is also the first tangible evidence of the evening that the content on this album was taken from older Eazy material, as he says “Comin’ through with a big lick for ‘94” during the song’s opening verse. Eazy spits three verses chock-full of generic gangsta rhymes, and of course he had to take another shot at Dre (“that nigga makin’ more money off your hits than you do”) and Snoop (“So bow down, bow wow, the big dog’s in town, and them guts is the only thing a nigga pounds”). The instrumental isn’t horrible, but something about it sounds cheesy, and the hook is corny as hell. The song ends awkwardly with Eazy rambling on about absolutely nothing.
Sippin On A 40 – Yella builds this funky backdrop around a dope loop from WAR’s classic record, “Slippin’ Into Darkness” (that in my opinion, was flawlessly flipped and will forever belong to Poor Righteous Teacher’s classic, “Rock Dis Funky Joint”), as Eazy is joined by BG Knocc Out and Gangsta Dresta to detail their ghetto quest to cop some liquor. The rhymes and hook (which also borrow from “Slippin’ Into Darkness”) are mildly entertaining, but the beat undeniably knocks.
Nutz On Ya Chin – After one listen and before reading the credits, I could immediately tell that Treach penned Eazy’s rhymes and Kay Gee produced the instrumental for this one. Treach is one of the most ferocious emcees in hip-hop history, but his rhymes don’t hit the same when delivered by Eazy, who’s limited rhyming ability becomes blatantly obvious as he tries to spit with Treach’s swift cadence. Kay Gee’s instrumental sounds like something he threw away and decided to take it out the trash and clean it up as best he could when Eazy (or Yella) called him for a beat.
Tha Muthaphukkin Real – Eazy reunites with his former NWA partner, MC Ren, as the duo take turns sharing more generic gangsta rhymes over a quiet slow-rolling Yella produced backdrop. It’s not a great record, but it makes for decent filler material.
Lickin, Suckin, Phukkin – Eazy gets off some verbal porn on this short interlude that sets up the next song…
Hit The Hooker – Given the song title and what I mentioned about the previous interlude, I think you’re smart enough to figure out what this song is about. Once again, Treach and Kay Gee are credited with producing the track, and it’s clear Treach penned the rhymes and Kay Gee hooked up the instrumental. Eazy continues to struggle to rhyme with Treach’s aggressive rapid-fire delivery, but at least Kay Gee’s instrumental was solid this time around.
My Baby’z Mama – Our host dedicates this one to his baby mama, whom he clearly despises. Apparently, he despised her so much he (or Yella) didn’t care how godawful his rhymes and flow sounded when recording this dis record. And the instrumental sounds even worst.
Creep N Crawl – More filler material that I could have done without.
Wut Would You Do – Eazy invites Dirty Red (an early candidate for alias of the year) to join him on the mic, as the two take one last shot at Death Row for the evening. I wasn’t blown away by Eazy or Dirty Red’s bars (though I literally chuckle every time I hear Eazy dis Snoop while references a line from “Murder Was The Case”: “Murder was the case that they gave me, I’ll smoke all you fools, even your boo-boo and your baby”), but the dark grimy instrumental (credited to a Tony G) was dope. By the way, can I get a question mark at the end of the song title, please?
Gangsta Beat 4Tha Street – Yella builds the smooth backdrop around a Delphonics’ loop (the same one Gang Starr used for “Lovesick” and Ed O.G & Da Bulldogs used for “Gotta Have Money”) and turns this into a gangsta cipher, as Eazy is joined by Gangsta Dresta, B.G. Knocc Out and Menajahtwa on the mic, as they all take turns celebrating boomin’ systems, dope beats and the gangsta lifestyle (or as Eazy so cornily puts it at the end of his verse: “Being a gangsta is so neat”). This was decent.
Eternal E – The last track of the night features a horrible synth-funk instrumental (credited to Roger Troutman (rip) and Tony G, with a co-credit going to Yella) that has snippets of Eazy talking about police brutality, NWA’s placement in hip-hop history, and his thoughts on why black kids join gangs, which all results in one random rant. Roger saturates the track with his signature talk box adlibs that make the terrible backdrop sound even worst. At the beginning of the song, Yella claims that Eazy wanted this track on the album, but I’m sure he wouldn’t approve of this hot mess.
Str8 Off Tha Streetz is the perfect example of why I don’t like most posthumously released albums. It sounds like Yella took old unreleased Eazy material, placed it over he and a few guest producers’ beats and filled in the holes with a bunch of cameos (I’m curious to why Bone Thugs didn’t make the album, though); and I found it completely ridiculous and unnecessary for Yella to continue Eazy’s beef with Death Row even in death. There are a few bangers on Str8 Off Tha Streetz, but most of the album is a mixture of mediocre, forgettable, and corny material, but this time I can’t hold Eazy responsible.