There was however, a rather embarrassing flip side to their seemingly unmatched notoriety.
Became famous because...
Prior to 1988, hip-hop artists were generally more concerned with cool sneakers and ridiculously over-sized ghetto blasters, than popping a cap in muthafuckin' gangstas and hos. Once NWA appeared on the scene however, funky sounding rap songs like "My Adidas" and "I Can't Live Without My Radio" gave way to considerably less jovial titles, such as "One Less Bitch" and "To Kill a Hooker".
At the forefront of this change was producer and occasional performer Dr. Dre, who was rapidly becoming one of music's all-time ultimate badasses. For a perfect example of his badassiness (if such a word exists), you need look no further than the time FOX TV's rap music show Pump It Up, dissed his band. Dr. Dre decided that, rather than writing a scathing lyric or sternly worded letter to the station, the best response was to slam the host face-first into a wall... repeatedly. This was promptly followed up by a boot in the ribs, with a few punches to the back of the head thrown in for good measure. If you look at Cracked tomorrow and find this article has mysteriously vanished from the site, we think you'll have a fair idea why.
Became famous despite...
QUESTION: Which of the following artists was once regularly seen prancing around in an exceptionally fruity, white, body-length, sequined suit jacket, while wearing a decidedly unmanly application of eyeliner and lipstick.
A) Gay icon, Freddie Mercury
B) Gay icon, Elton John
C) Gay icon, Liberace
D) Hardcore gangsta rapper, Dr Dre
ANSWER: Although, in the privacy of their own bedrooms, the first three performers on this list have almost certainly been guilty of the aforementioned crime against fashion, the only artist who felt it appropriate to commit this indiscretion in public is the not-that-hardcore-after-all Dr. Dre.
While he now looks like he could break your neck without batting an eyelid, a few years before NWA made it big, Dre was part of an electro-hop act called World Class Wreckin' Cru, with a reputation that was decidedly more 'N Sync than NWA.
As well as wearing the above heinous costume, it also appears as though he took the "Doctor" part of his name a little too seriously, flouncing around with a stethoscope for that additional camp touch.
We hate to think how many tragically misdiagnosed patients it took for the world to realize it was just a costume. We also hate to think of how many wannabe gangstas grew up wanting to be like Dre, not realizing that was also just a costume, and that his previous one was not quite masculine enough for a spot in The Village People.
For something from the more recent past that a famous person hopes you'll forget, check out Mitt Romney's supremely awkward attempt to interact with black people on the Friday Nooner. Or if you're just in the mood for more ridiculous musicians, check out The 25 Worst Rapper Names of All Time.