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N.W.A.'s new album debuts at No. 2

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Call it the worst nightmare of the Parents’ Music Resource Center: white suburban teens flocking to malls to buy an album by a rap group known for its raunchy, sexist, and violent songs about life in poor black communities. But that’s exactly what is happening with NIGGAZ4LIFE, the new album by L.A. rappers N.W.A. Despite a parental-warning sticker and no radio airplay, the album sold nearly 800,000 copies in its first week and debuted on the Billboard pop album chart at an eye-opening No. 2. The album’s breakthrough is a major blow to the record-labeling movement. Some chains won’t display stickered albums and some refuse to carry them at all; others only sell them to people over 18. But judging from N.W.A’s success, this movement is floundering; fans of all ages and races are able to buy NIGGAZ4LIFE. (Only one major chain, WaxWorks, isn’t stocking the album.) Interviewed at the Sam Goody store in Rapid City, S.D., where he was buying the sure-to-be-controversial album, Jerry Woods, 18, calls N.W.A ”a great rap group” with ”honest” lyrics. Black teens also endorse N.W.A’s appeal. Jeff Alston, 19, buying the record at Musicland in Louisville, Ky., says, ”They know what a black male’s life is like in the city.” Eric Kinslow, 16, adds, ”I know a lot of white guys listen to it, because blacks are now role models to white guys.” For white, mohawk-sporting Mark Timmermann, 15, however, N.W.A is mostly just fun: ”I never listen to that stuff about it being controversial. I just like its fast pace.”

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