Good News in History, August 8

34 years ago today, N.W.A released their debut album Straight Outta Compton, which has been certified triple platinum and became the first rap album inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Not merely depicting Compton’s street violence, the track “F#*% tha Police” drew an FBI agent’s warning letter, which aided N.W.A’s notoriety, with N.W.A calling itself “the world’s most dangerous group.” READ about how it was made…

The album was recorded and produced in Audio Achievements Studio in Torrance, California for $12,000. Dr. Dre, in a 1993 interview, recalls, “I threw that thing together in six weeks so we could have something to sell out of the trunk.

In an incident recalled in producer Jerry Heller’s book and later portrayed in the film Straight Outta Compton, police approached the group while they were standing outside the studio in the fall of 1987 and demanded them to get on their knees and show ID without explanation. Outraged by the experience, Cube began writing the lyrics that would become “F*%@ tha Police.”

The term “gangsta rap,” soon to arise in journalism, had not been coined yet. According to Ice Cube, the rappers themselves called it “reality rap”. Indicting N.W.A as its leading example, journalist David Mills, in 1990, acknowledges, “the hard-core street rappers defend their violent lyrics as a reflection of ‘reality.’ But for all the gunshots they mix into their music, rappers rarely try to dramatize that reality.”

Ironically, and perhaps indicative of David Mills assessment, Priority Records’ estimation is that about 80% of Straight Outta Compton’s sales occurred in suburban areas with predominantly white populations.

MORE Good News on this Day:

Brian Hyland went to No.1 on the US singles chart at age 16 with Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini (1960)
A cease-fire between Iran and Iraq was announced by The United Nations after an 8-year war (1988)
Temperatures hit a high of 88 degrees F on 8/8/88 in New York City (1988)
John McCarthy, the British journalist held hostage in Lebanon by Islamic Jihad, was freed after more than five years in captivity (1991)
Judge Sonia Sotomayor was sworn in as the first Hispanic U.S. Supreme Court Justice — and only the third woman to be promoted among the 111 chief justices in the court’s history (2009)

Happy 41st Birthday to the legendary Swiss tennis champion, Roger Federer, who’s respected not only for his record-setting 20 Grand Slam singles titles, but for his sportsmanship and good-natured personality playing the game. He started a foundation at age 22 that has funded early-childhood education for 1.75 million kids in 6 African countries—building more than 50 preschools in Malawi, alone.

Born in Basel, Switzerland, he speaks German, English, and French fluently, as well as functional Italian and Swedish. He married a pro tennis player named Miroslava who gave birth to identical twin girls for the couple in 2009, and then a second pair in 2014—this time, boys.

On the court in 2010 by Esther Lim, CC license; and in a 2017 press conference by mirsasha, CC license on Flickr

He won his first Grand Slam single at Wimbledon at age 21, and 3 years later he played the best year of his storied career. During that 2006 season, Federer won 12 singles titles (tying John McEnroe’s record set in 1984) and had a match record of 92–5, reaching the finals in an astounding 16 of the 17 tournaments he entered that season. He won three Grand Slams—and was the first man to reach all four finals in a calendar year since Rod Laver did it in 1969.

Federer won five consecutive titles at both Wimbledon and the US Open. He surpassed Pete Sampras’s Wimbledon record by winning his eighth men’s singles title in 2017. He also reached the finals in 2019, but in July, 2021 he lost in the quarterfinals, after recovering from two knee surgeries. WATCH a bio—and don’t miss the incredible match point with Agassi at 2:00 mark… (1981)

Another historical mark held by Federer: He was in a record 31 major finals, including a record 10-in-a-row.

And, on this day in 1942, the Quit India Movement was launched at the Bombay session of the All India Congress Committee when Gandhi called for immediate independence of India.

In a speech at the Gowalia Tank Maidan, renamed August Revolution Ground, Gandhi urged Indians to follow a course of non-violent civil disobedience to bring the British Govt. to the negotiating table. He told the masses to act as an independent nation and not to follow the orders of the British. His call “to Do or Die” found support among a large number of Indians.

Within 24 hours, almost the entire Congress leadership was put into confinement, cut-off from the rest of the world for over three years. Later, the Congress party was banned. These actions only created sympathy for the cause among the population. Despite lack of direct leadership, large-scale protests and demonstrations were held all over the country. Workers remained absent en masse and strikes were called. More than 100,000 arrests were made nationwide, and though Gandhi’s own health was failing, he went on 21-day protest fasts and maintained a superhuman resolve to continuous resistance. Although the British released Gandhi on account of his failing health in 1944, Gandhi kept up the resistance, demanding the complete release of the Congress leadership.

Happy 85th birthday to legendary American film star Dustin Hoffman. Voted by acting school classmates as “Least Likely To Succeed”, Hoffman went on to win two Oscars for roles in Kramer vs. Kramer and Rain Man. Known for his versatility, he starred in The Graduate, Midnight Cowboy, Little Big Man, Lenny, All the President’s Men, and Tootsie. WATCH a wonderful TODAY interview about his film regrets and success… (1937)

And on this day in 1969, The Beatles shot the famous photo for the cover of their Abbey Road album in the crosswalk outside Abbey Road studios. Tourists now pose and snap photos by the thousands every day. And, in fact, in 2011, Abbey Road Studios installed a 24-hour live streaming web camera focused on the historic pedestrian crossing to show how everyone tries recreate the iconic Beatles lineup.

The GNN founder (left) with her family, coincidentally wearing some of the colors matching the original Fab Four shot.

Also on this day, in 1992 a U.S. ‘Dream Team’ won the gold medal in basketball at the Barcelona Olympics with a combination of superstars that some called the greatest sports team ever assembled: Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Scottie Pippen, Charles Barkley, and Patrick Ewing.

By the end of the 1980s, American amateurs were no longer competitive against seasoned professionals from the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, so in 1989, international basketball’s governing body, FIBA, modified its rules to allowed a USA team fielded with National Basketball Association players. The Soviets voted against the proposal that FIBA Secretary General Borislav Stanković had advocated for years.

The team scored 100 points in every game—the first Olympic team to do so– and never called a single time-out during the entire competition, another record. Jordan later said, “That was the highlight of my career. It always will be.” WATCH a montage of the most spectacular plays—moves that would impress even the least interested…

And, 52 years ago today, shortly before her tragic death, Janis Joplin had a gravestone erected for blues legend Bessie Smith, who was buried in an unmarked grave after she died in a car accident in 1937.

The rockin’ Joplin often called Smith’s raspy blues voice her greatest inspiration. The marker, in Mount Lawn Cemetery in Sharon Hill, PA, reads, “The Greatest Blues Singer in the World Will Never Stop Singing.” WATCH a short bio… (1970)

SHARE The Milestones, Memories, and Music…