N.W.A.’s classic Straight Outta Compton album will be preserved in the National Recording Registry, a rare accomplishment for a hip-hop album.
The Library of Congress chose the pioneering gangster rap album alongside 24 other artists, including Judy Garland’s single “Somewhere Over The Rainbow,” David Bowie’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars album and Barbra Streisand’s 1964 single, “People.”
“The Registry additions each year are always an eclectic mix, which is appropriate given that it should mirror our richly diverse and ever-changing recorded sound heritage,” Librarian of Congress Dr. Carla Hayden told CNN during last year’s additions. “These works stand the test of time and reflect the many accomplishments, struggles and values comprising the American puzzle.”
While hip-hop artists have been recognized by the Library of Congress in the past, N.W.A.’s induction is notable, given the backlash and public outrage by activists and politicians when the project released in the late 1980s, pushing the group into mainstream America.
“NWA helped create a new type of music that reflected the experiences of the artists who produced it, whose voices had been less heard in the world of hip-hop but especially in the broader context of America at that time,” Hayden said. “So it changed the whole genre of hip-hop and people’s perception of it. All of the items on the registry reflect their times in some way, and this is no exception.”
Past hip-hop recordings to be recognized by the registry include Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five’s “The Message,” Public Enemy’s Fear of a Black Planet album, Tupac Shakur’s hit single “Dear Mama”, De La Soul’s 3 Feet High & Rising album, Sugar Hill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” and Lauryn Hill’s solo debut, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill.