The cover of Gerrick D. Kennedy’s new book, ‘Parental Discretion Is Advised: The Rise of N.W.A and the Dawn of Gangsta Rap’; Photo: Atria Books


There’s no other rap group like N.W.A.; the style, the attitude, the lyrics — they’re iconoclasts.

In the past couple of years the mainstream media has finally acknowledged the indelible mark they’ve left on pop culture, including a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nod and a critically acclaimed biopic. Though it wasn’t always that way, which is why LA-Times journalist and author Gerrick D. Kennedy has taken it upon himself to write a comprehensive book putting the group’s contributions into historical context.

Parental Discretion is Advised: The Rise of N.W.A and the Dawn of Gangsta Rap examines N.W.A.’s history — from how Dr. Dre and Eazy E first linked and their early days together to the group’s controversial name. “N.W.A were to hip hop what the Sex Pistols were to rock — and really, what’s more punk than having a name that dared to be spoken or written in full, and music that incensed a nation?” Kennedy writes in the book.

In addition to examining their cultural impact, Kennedy also frames intimate stories to help apply context to what shaped N.W.A. and how they represented something so much more than music. N.W.A. spoke openly and widely about police brutality and what life was like in a world that people seldom saw, knew or even cared about.

Kennedy also places a special emphasis on N.W.A.’s writing style, and how the F.B.I. took exception to the content of their lyrics. “Advocating violence and assault is wrong, and we in the law enforcement community take exception to such action,” infamously wrote the feds back in 1989. According to New York Daily news, “This was the first time the bureau took a stance on a song, book, film or any form of art in its history.”

Riling up the feds amused N.W.A., and in the end helped with promotions; there was no better way to add credibility towards what they were standing for than a formal letter from the government condemning their ways. The book Parental Discretion Is Advised: The Rise of N.W.A and the Dawn of Gangsta Rap will be the first of its kind and should be a missing puzzle piece for those looking for a more complete portrait of the legendary group.