LOS ANGELES The revamped N.W.A lineup of Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, M.C. Ren and Snoop Dogg, who performed live for the first time Saturday, are out to "change the course of hip-hop again" with their first album in nearly a decade, Dr. Dre said.
The pioneering gangsta-rap group, who taped an episode of the television show "Farmclub.com," has not yet recorded the album, but Ice Cube said he was already enjoying being part of N.W.A again.
"It felt like puttin' on your favorite pair of Nikes or somethin' comfortable fit, perfect," Ice Cube (born O'Shea Jackson) said after the performance. "To look over there and have a megastar like Dre, Snoop and Ren right there with you, you know it's magic.
"Good things come to those who wait," he continued. "We've all been patient, and tonight's the night."
Ice Cube couldn't predict if the reunited group would deliver an album before year's end, but he said work on the LP probably would start in June. Dr. Dre, Ice Cube and M.C. Ren (born Lorenzo Patterson) are holdovers from the original lineup, while Snoop Dogg is subbing for the late MC Eazy-E, who died in 1995 of complications from AIDS.
Back On Track
The four began their performance with "Chin Check" (RealAudio excerpt), which appears on the soundtrack to Ice Cube's film "Next Friday." After two runs through the tune, they tore the house down with a rendition of N.W.A's 1989 staple "Straight Outta Compton" (RealAudio excerpt), followed by Dr. Dre's "Nothin' But a 'G' Thang," off The Chronic (1992).
Ice Cube and Dr. Dre, each wearing Oakland Raiders hats, paced the stage as they commanded the crowd with their rhymes, while M.C. Ren stuck mostly to the sidelines during his times on the mic. Snoop Dogg, clad in a Dogg House Records jacket, stepped forward to deliver his drawl while seesawing back and forth in characteristic form.
Though clashing egos and financial feuds led the founding members to bicker publicly, resulting in Ice Cube's departure in 1990, everyone appeared to be getting along.
"We always talked about getting back together, but it's just fate, straight-up," Dr. Dre (born Andre Young) said before the performance. "If it's supposed to happen now, it's gonna happen now. There's no magical chemistry or none of that sh--."
'The Perfect Sub For Eazy'
With Snoop onboard, Ice Cube said the band wasn't apprehensive about re-forming without Eazy-E.
"I think Snoop is the perfect, perfect sub for Eazy," said the rapper, who will release War & Peace Vol. 2 (The Peace Disc) on March 21. "Nobody else could win that slot. There was no other person who ever came to my mind. I'm happy that he was able to come in and get down on our track and make N.W.A live again."
Snoop Dogg said he jumped at the opportunity to be a part of N.W.A but that he also recognizes he has his work cut out for him.
"I've been a fan of N.W.A since they was selling records out of the trunks of their cars when I was in high school," said Snoop Dogg (born Calvin Broadus), who recently introduced his new group, Tha Eastsidaz, on Snoop Dogg Presents Tha Eastsidaz.
"I was supportive of the cause before, and now that I'm in it, I'm gonna keep it alive," he said. "I'm gonna do my best to make sure I don't let anybody down and assist the homeboys in the best way that I can and try to make the best album that I've ever been on. ... [N.W.A] records changed the game; they were the best records that were ever heard."
Dr. Dre, who said Snoop Dogg "adds that extra spice that needs to be there," said the group has kicked around ideas for songs but has not laid anything down.
Co-founded by Eazy-E (born Eric Wright), Dr. Dre and Ice Cube in 1986, N.W.A provided a template for gangsta rap in 1989 with Straight Outta Compton. The album, featuring emphatically violent and sexist lyrics over Dr. Dre and DJ Yella's ferocious beats, stirred controversy with the song "Fuck tha Police" (RealAudio excerpt), which resulted in the FBI sending a warning letter to the group's distributor, Priority Records.
After Ice Cube's departure, the group released Efil4zaggin (Niggaz4life spelled backward) in 1991, which reached #1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart in its third week of release. The group fell apart when Dr. Dre left for a solo career in 1992.
"The biggest legacy of N.W.A is that it allowed all artists all over the world to say whatever the f--- they wanted to say," Ice Cube said.
Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst and director Quentin Tarantino attended Saturday's taping at Universal Studios. The "Farmclub.com" episode, which also features performances by Nate Dogg, Tha Eastsidaz and Xzibit, is scheduled to air March 27 on the USA Network.