It seems as though it is always the short-lived groups that incite the most influence in their respective genres. Between 1965 and 1970, squeaky clean rock-and-roll music was changed forever by The Beatles who, in a five-year span, took over all of pop culture-- changing it forever. Less than two decades later, the equally pristine and adolescent genre of hip-hop music was met by the bravado and gangsta machismo of N.W.A.

Their Niggaz 4 Life and Straight Outta Compton albums served as catalysts that scorched the earth, forging the path of rap music for years to come. And while those albums are N.W.A.’s only releases, they were brave and bold enough to not just warrant a (wildly anticipated) biopic, but imprint the industry in such a clear way, that their influences are felt even to this day. From the challenging of police, to using the N-word in their lyrics-- N.W.A. carried the cross for decades of rappers-to-be.

Let’s look at the tracks that laid the groundwork for the future of hip-hop music, with N.W.A.’s 5 Most Influential Tracks.