Few hip hop acts have ever matched the influence and iconic status of N.W.A, whose edgy and compelling debut album Straight Outta Compton launched the gangsta rap era which gave hip hop its political heart, its rampant capacity for offence and its trailblazing sense of danger. They brought a raw and virile street style to the masses which appalled the traditional music industry but made N.W.A the flagship of the new rap era during which they sold over 9 million records in the US alone. They were initially formed by Eazy-E, founder of Ruthless Records, who gradually introduced the colourful characters who eventually made up N.W.A. Straight Outta Compton was released in 1988 and immediately caused a sensation with its explicit lyrics and its brutal anti-police sentiments. Yet it excitingly mirrored the anger of urban American youth and the confrontational flavour of street culture and almost everything they did aroused controversy. There were constant internal feuds, too, resulting in Ice Cube's departure in 1989 with the two sides "dissing" one another in verse and once Dr. Dre had also departed, N.W.A effectively disbanded in bitter dispute in 1991 after just two albums.