The original lineup consisted of Arabian Prince, Dr. Dre, Eazy-E and Ice Cube. DJ Yella and MC Ren joined later, with Arabian Prince eventually leaving. Ice Cube left the group in December 1989 over royalty disputes. Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube and MC Ren would later become platinum-selling solo artists in the 1990s. Their debut album Straight Outta Compton marked the beginning of the new gangsta rap era as the production and social commentary in their lyrics were revolutionary within the genre. Rolling Stone ranked N.W.A number 83 on their list of the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time". In October 2012, N.W.A were nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for the first time. In October 2013 the group was nominated for a second time.
Having both parted with Ruthless Records on bad terms, tensions between Ice Cube and Dr. Dre eventually eased on their own. Ice Cube made a cameo appearance in Dr. Dre's "Let Me Ride" video in 1993. The two recorded the hit song "Natural Born Killaz" for Snoop Doggy Dogg's 1994 short film and soundtrack Murder Was the Case and they also planned an album which was to be titled Heltah Skeltah. Later Ice Cube appeared on MC Ren's album Ruthless for Life on the track "Comin' After You". MC Ren appeared on Dre's 1999 album 2001, and the three remaining N.W.A emcees would reunite for "Hello" on Ice Cube's 2000 album War & Peace Vol. 2 (The Peace Disc). The West Coast and "gangsta" music scene had however fallen out of the spotlight since the death of Tupac Shakur in 1996, and it was only after Dr. Dre's successful patronage of Eminem and Dre's ensuing comeback album 2001 that the genre and its artists would regain the national spotlight. 2000's all-star Up In Smoke Tour would reunite much of the N.W.A and Death Row families, and during time spent on the road, Dre, Ice Cube, MC Ren, guest star Snoop Dogg and Eminem began recording in a mobile studio. A comeback album entitled Not These Niggaz Again was planned (and would include DJ Yella, who had not been present on the tour).
However, due to busy and conflicting schedules as well as the obstacles of coordinating three different record labels (Priority, No Limit and Interscope), obtaining the rights to the name N.W.A and endorsing the whole project to gain exclusive rights, the album never materialized. Only two tracks from these sessions would be released: "Chin Check" (with Snoop Dogg as a member of N.W.A) from 2000's Next Friday soundtrack and "Hello" from Ice Cube's 2000 album War & Peace Vol. 2 (The Peace Disc). Both songs would appear on N.W.A's remastered and re-released Greatest Hits. There would also be partial reunions on "Set It Off", from Snoop Dogg's Tha Last Meal (2000), which featured MC Ren and Ice Cube as well as former Death Row "inmates", and The D.O.C.'s "The Shit", from his 2003 album Deuce, which featured MC Ren, Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg and Six-Two. Dr. Dre and DJ Yella were present in the studio for the latter song. In addition to the Greatest Hits initially released by Priority in 1996, Capitol and Ruthless Records jointly released The N.W.A Legacy, Vol. 1: 1988–1998 in 1998, a compilation that contained songs by other rap artists and only three songs from the actual group but various solo tracks from the five members. The success of the album prompted a second volume, The N.W.A Legacy, Vol. 2, two years later. It emulated the format of its predecessor, containing only three genuine N.W.A tracks and many solo efforts by the crew members. In 2007, a new greatest hits package was released, entitled The Best of N.W.A: The Strength of Street Knowledge.
In 2014 Ice Cube appeared on MC Ren's remix for "Rebel Music". This was the first time the duo had worked together since the N.W.A reunion in 2000.