Straight Outta Compton
Straight Outta Compton brings us the rise and fall of “The World’s Most Dangerous Group” N.W.A. In 1986, three friends Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, and DJ Yella, teamed up with Eazy-E and MC Ren to create a hip-hop group whose goal was to be a form of ghetto superstars in their neighborhood, Compton. However veteran manager Jerry Heller noticed the talent of Eazy-E on one of their first tracks which helped gain them access to a deal to release their controversial 1988 debut album “Straight Outta Compton”. Propelling them forward towards stardom and as the voice for the inner city violence.
Ice Cube recently said in an interview “unless you come from Compton, it’s not a world you’re privy to. Our music let you visit Compton from a safe distance.” This is something this film is able to translate from album’s themes of violence, police brutality and overall frustration exceptionally well. The film has many moments that are extremely intense, for instance the opening sequence with Eazy-E in the drug house, and especially the sequence where gang bangers pull over a school bus by gun point. It’s not a world that we are able to see on first hand experience and the media will never show you a good depiction of the city. That’s where this film exceeds, it’s honest in it’s approach towards police brutality that young minorities face. The police bust up when the group played ‘Fuck The Police’ in Anaheim is reminiscent of everything going on in America the past few years. Straight Outta Compton shows how this group of kids just wanted to show everybody the truth about what’s going on in the streets, their socially charged and racy lyrics put the media’s spotlight on them and the FBI began looking into them which gave them even more publicity. Simply put N.W.A allowed for everybody to feel they had the right to express themselves despite what others think.
A surprise about this film is the long run time of 147 minutes. In all honesty it did not need to be this long, however director F. Gary Gray (Friday, Law Abiding Citizen) was able to keep it all together. The film doesn’t offer anything new to the music biopic genre, but it’s so much fun; a soundtrack that had the lady behind me in the theater singing along, wild parties, and comradery within the group. Asides from the entertainment aspect, it was a great directorial decision to show each individual’s post-NWA life with added depth, though mainly focused on Dre, Cube and Eazy. He implemented the drama between the three with the famous diss tracks/beef but dove deeper into inner emotions with losing the lives of closer friends/family, conflict with management, and dealing with the harsh realities of live in Compton. You don’t need to be a fan of hip-hop to enjoy this, because simply, it’s a lot of fun with just enough drama for you to be emotionally involved.
The highlight of the film for me is O’shea Jackson, Jr. who plays his father Ice Cube. Not only does he look dead on like Ice Cube, but he is able to bring that aggression and tone of voice incredibly well. I was anxious on seeing his performance because I felt he only got the role because of his looks but to be able to play Ice Cube, (a person who is known for being completely outspoken but able to bring humor to the table) isn’t the easiest thing to do. You’ll have to remind yourself a few times that it’s not really Ice Cube. Everybody else who played their roles were solid as well, surprisingly Paul Giamatti put in a solid shift as the money hungry business man Jerry Heller.
Overall the film brings a fresh look at N.W.A, it feels like a high quality behind the scenes footage. Stylish cinematography, good acting, and an incredible soundtrack just boost the appeal towards this film. Their legacy only continues to grow and influence others, and now by having their story told on the big screen, their impact on pop culture and the youth will continue to thrive on.
My Rating – ★★★ / ★★★★★
Dir. F. Gary Gray
IMDb 8.4 – Rotten Tomatoes 89%
“Speak a little truth and people lose their minds”