It might be difficult for some to believe, but this weekend marks 25 years since N.W.A released its chart-topping second album Efil4zaggin. Though overshadowed by the group’s genre-busting debut Straight Outta Compton, their sophomore follow-up was actually one of the biggest hits of 1991, selling almost a million copies in its first week alone before shooting up the charts to take the number one slot on June 22. Its an incredible feat considering some of the albums that came out that year, including iconic releases by Mariah Carey, U2, Garth Brooks, and Michael Jackson.
To help commemorate that album’s anniversary, Rolling Stone sat down with the surviving members of N.W.A as well as D.O.C. to chat Efil4zaggin, the impact of losing Ice Cube, and the album’s ultimate impact.
“I knew I had to step it up a notch,” MC Ren said, recalling the process of making the album. “The rappers were just me, [Eazy] E and Dre at that point; and E told me at one point, ‘You’re going to have to be the main cat on this album.’ So I knew I had to go in there and just go crazy. … I would listen to the other great MCs and work on my delivery all the time. I was listening to Chuck D, KRS, Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, all the greats, studying them.”
DJ Yella also recalled how the album’s track “Appetite For Destruction” almost led to a joint Guns N’ Roses performance. “We were supposed to do a couple of shows with them, but our manager got too greedy,” he said. “They wanted to give us $25,000 for 10 minutes, but our management wanted $50,000 so it didn’t work. We might have ended up doing a whole bunch of shows with them.”
The piece also touched on the factors that led to the group’s ultimate demise, most notably, the introduction of Suge Knight into the scene. “Dre is no dummy,” D.O.C. said. “Dre was doing 80 percent of the work. He wanted his just due and he went to those guys and tried to get those guys to do things the right way, but Eazy wasn’t havin’ it. So Suge, Dre and I decided that we would start our own thing together and that way we know that we’ll finally get what we deserve from this s–t.”
“When we broke up, the group was Number One on the Billboard chart,” Yella, said. “I mean, groups don’t break up at Number One. They break up at Number 1,000.”
Head over to Rolling Stone to read the interview in full.