Question: Can we justify studying these records in an English class ? Why or why not?
I think we can, but for different reasons.
Since part of the title of this class is 'banned books' I think we have a lot of reason to study N.W.A. Though it's not a book, this album has had a lot of controversy and songs like F--- the Police never even made it onto the radio like Rachel was saying. In this way I think it is beneficial to study something like music that has been banned and be able to compare it to how it is similar/different from banning a book.
The other half of the title of this class is 'novel ideas' and I think Bob Dylan has a lot of these. His material isn't really controversial like N.W.A.'s but I think his ideas are really unique and insightful. His lyrics are read like poems. I don't have to listen to his actual singing to appreciate what he was trying to say. (Though I do enjoy the music quite a bit). I would consider Bob Dylan's songs to be literature.
N.W.A.'s lyrics on the other hand, to me aren't as sophisticated. They are pretty crude and mostly straightforward. I don't read their lyrics as literature. To me one must actually listen to the music to get the effect of N.W.A., without it I don't find any interest in what they are saying. It's just like someone complaining a lot about life.
These artists are different. I think they're both good to study in our class but for these different reasons. They have different aspects that make them good.