N.W.A. and the Posse: Where Are the 12 Guys from N.W.A's First Album Cover Now?

The cover of N.W.A. and the Posse, does not look like something released by the most important rap group of all time.

Actually, just looking at the photo, who would believe that some of the guys in this alleyway would change the course of popular music forever less than a year after the flashbulb popped? Who would guess these men were capable of creating their own genre of music, putting their fingerprints on nearly every hip-hop song written in the past 20 years? Who would imagine that four guys in this picture would go on to record, produce, or market records that have sold hundreds of millions of copies?

Does anyone even know who the hell all these guys are?

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Not only does the cover of N.W.A's first album not look anything like the standard image of "The World's Most Dangerous Group," it's such an odd mix of styles it's hard to believe the guys posing together are any sort of group at all. Truly, the cover of N.W.A. and the Posse is a puzzle.

This picture is also, however, a perfect snapshot of one of the most important scenes in the history of popular music. Stare for a moment and you can see a myth about to be born. That myth, Gangsta Rap, enabled four guys in this picture -- Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, MC Ren, and Eazy E -- to titillate and terrify America as Compton-based rap group Niggaz With Attitude.

The mythical power of N.W.A certainly doesn't come from the clock necklaces, the running pants or the Jehri curls. Look to the left, at the bottles of malt liquor, the plain jeans, and the black ballcaps. Those props (and that's the right word, as we'll see later) hint at what's going on here, which is the gestation of gangsta rap. It's a genre that went on to become the most important, influential, and successful innovation in urban music in at least a quarter century.

This photo is a mid-Genesis snapshot.

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