When word came out that there will be a movie based on the lives of seminal rap group N.W.A., I patiently waited for the chance to see it. Sadly, Straight Outta Compton had a limited run in the Philippines so when I finally did see it, I couldn’t stop wanting more. I honestly think the two hours and 30 minutes were not enough to show how they fought for the establishment of “reality rap” or gangsta rap as a legit sub genre of hip hop music.
Gangsta rap is not for everybody, but Straight Outta Compton definitely is. The movie takes everyone back to 1986 when Compton was just a spot in the West Coast Hip Hop scene and the only beats by Dr. Dre were the ones he dished out as a DJ.
Straight Outta Compton opens with an introduction to the members of the N.W.A. Their individualstories were far from the most ideal, but it was played out in a way that lets you in on a normal life in the streets, trying to get by, hustling and writing rhymes.
It was even surprising that this movie did not come across as the usual thug life film. There were so many instances of raw emotions – from losing a family member to knowing that time is running out. There were times I felt that these people on screen were regular people – just like me.
The casting also blew me away. I could easily convince myself that I was watching a movie documentary not only because the cast look the part, they also owned the characters and they definitely did not do it overnight. From stance to behavior, each actor fit the bill and were all inspired pieces of casting. O’Shea Jackson Jr., in particular, stands out as he played his father Ice Cube, and did him justice, which was a feat considering it was his first movie role.
Straight Outta Compton does not promote violence but the reality of the streets. The movie represents life as they see it the moment they step out the door. It shows police brutality and racial profiling, and how that became the catalyst for their classic track Fuck Tha Police which is as influential now as it was almost 30 years ago.
I was convinced that police brutality was the movie’s main plot until it fizzled out toward the end to show a more personal side to the main characters in the movie. It still appears in the second half but more like a backdrop. At about the height of the group’s rise to fame and when they were most effective in the portrayal of the rise against police brutality, Ice Cube left the group, and Eazy-E and their manager, Jerry Heller, became the target of much dissing. Dr. Dre followed soon after with the same reasons as Ice Cube and this is where it all got dirty. There were murky deals to switch labels and the remaining N.W.A members MC Ren and DJ Yella were left behind and blended in with the background. They then present Eazy-E spiralling into a mess of his own making.
In all, Straight Outta Compton is a great piece and reminds me of Dangerous Minds which is a personal favorite of mine. The film still ended strong despite losing its main objective. It was made to entertain the eyes and the ears interlaced with modern history. Cinematography came into play and it was executed to give us a whiff of nostalgia that’s not quite nostalgic and the soundtrack is now my most listened to because, ‘damn, that shit was dope’. Amidst speculations that the movie contained less than the truth and the facts presented are mostly arguable and is largely in favour of its producers, it could easily turn into a crowd-favorite over time, a classic on its own.
It was definitely worth the wait and there is no doubt as to why it is now the highest-grossing music biopic of all time. Check it out and let me know what you think!