Of course it was a front - its that gangsta rap and fighting the oppressors which sold them albums. I was too young to see through that as a kid and just lapped up the whole genre. Dre has always been a square - he never could pull off the whole gangster hood thing well and ran the productions, smart man.
Yeah boy!!! That's why I loved Public Enemy, still get shivers when I hear the lead riff to Bum Rush the Show. East Coast v West Coast came alive when NWA got going. Dre producing for Snoop Dog was an amazing thing at the time. RunDMC crossed over and what a time for alternative music it was.
Most people rememeber the 80's for Madonna and Hair Metal, but for me it was Grandmaster Flash, PE, Ice T, and NWA. (De La Soul and Beastie Boys, but don't judge me - Paul's Boutique was ahead of its time)