It’s been a long time coming, but I needed to share my experience of watching the NWA biopic, Straight Outta Compton. When the movie first hit the big screen, August 14th 2015, I decided to stray away in case of a huge line. It ended up being sort of a family outing with my Aunt, Uncle, cousins, sister and two of my brothers. I warned them of all the profanity and possible nudity that would inevitably take place, but to my delight, we went anyway.
Besides the fact that the movie was obviously not meant for sensitive ears, I was hoping for authenticity of times that were a little before my own. When hip-hop was fresh and gangster rap was the thing to do, when police brutality was not nearly as visible as it is now. I worried about the cast, just as I always am with any biopic. I watched this film in full on consumer mode. I did not want to ruin it in light of all the things I have learned about film,scripts, and all that jazz in college. I went in to get some insight on NWA whom I knew of and listened to with older cousins, aunts and uncles. I wanted to take a stroll through the 80s and early 90s of music.
Before reading all the articles nitpicking at Straight Outta Compton, I thought about why this film gave me, and many others, so much life. And so much yes! Before I get into it, if you have not yet seen Straight Outta Compton, run away now.
THIS MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS. Obviously. Its a biopic…life is a spoiler for this movie.
With Straight Outta Compton being expected to dominate the box office for it’s second weekend, there are a few reasons why it has already made over $80 million within its first week in theaters.
Straight Outta Compton cast were splitting images and attitudes
The film opens with Jason Mitchell as Eazy-E going in to collect money from a possible drug or gun deal. That opening scene ends with Mitchell hopping on the rooftop Assassin’s creed style.The beginning snatches the viewers attention to say the least. As it goes on we meet Corey Hawkins as Dr. Dre, O’Shea Jackson Jr. as Ice Cube, Neil Brown Jr. as DJ Yella, and Aldis Hodge as MC Ren.
Director of Straight Outta Compton F. Gary Gray expressed that the cast was not chosen because of how they looked, but I’m sure there had to be factored in some where. I mean…come on.
Viewers experience the light and dark of NWA
NWA was/is referred to as “The Most Dangerous Rap Group”. I believe their image prompted many to expect a movie that was purely dark, however, there were many scenes of laughter, love, and joy. Viewers get a taste of what it could have been like to experience the hype of a NWA concert. Before a prominent performance in the film NWA in Detroit, where they are prompted by police to not perform the song “F**k the Police”. Of course they perform it and were (to put it lightly) placed under arrest for “inciting a riot” with smiles on their faces. Ice Cube intended for the movie to show more of the lighter side of NWA and welcomes those who want it to have something different to make their own.
“We were kids, doing hip-hop and becoming famous. It’s like, ‘Oh, yeah, FBI? Oh, yeah — policemen too, huh?’ We were having fun until the police came and fucked with us. In between that, we were having fun. Coming from those neighborhoods, you don’t have this ‘Woe is me’ attitude. You have this, ‘Shit, I survived yesterday; I should be able to survive today, using my instincts. But where’s the fun at? What are we doing?’ We’re not just going to be sitting and sulking… -Ice Cube
For those complaining about not having the movie dark enough…Eazy-E dies. Dr. Dre’s little brother dies, Suge Knight and all his unnecessarily violent shenanigans,there is a glimpse of the L.A Riots and Rodney King getting beat in the streets. Not dark enough for you?
There is another moment of “Bye Felicia”
According to Ice Cube, the line “Bye Felicia” from the hit movie Friday was not premeditated. A character’s name happened to be Felicia, and that character happened to be leaving the area. Regardless of whether or not a viewer knew where the saying came from, most would at least know that it exists. If not…bye Felicia.
The film is Rated R. Meaning the aforementioned nudity, violence, and language is probably 5% censored.
Most members of NWA are still living. With the recent release of films such as “Amy”, (biopic of Amy Winehouse), “Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B”, “Whitney”, most of the main artists are not living. This granted the cast, director, and Universal the direct insight into the lives of specific members of the group and the people they were surrounded by. With Ice Cube and Dr. Dre present in some way on set everyday, the actors were able to get one on one mentoring from the people they were portraying. MC Ren and DJ Yella even made appearances despite their short camera time in the film, as they were unfortunately overlooked in the movie.
Straight Outta Compton came in right on time
In light, or giant shadow, of all the recent televised footage of police brutality, the film was moved by that theme. There is a personal connection to the issues happening today to those of the past; the vehicle: NWA’s music. NWA’s music is brutally honest against the brutal truths many experienced. Many of what was shown is still happening today and can catapult more into the movement of racial equality and weeding out the bad seeds of the police force.
It inspired Dr. Dre to bless us with his genius once again
I’m sure that by now, many know that Dr. Dre has released his album inspired by the film. Let’s make it very clear that this is not a soundtrack to the movie, but was made as a result of it. It is much like Jay Z’s “American Gangster” that was inspired the film American Gangster starring Denzel Washington. More importantly Kendrick Lamar, Jill Scott, The Game, Snoop Dogg and many others are featured in “Compton” over 16 tracks. The album is now available. (click album cover for link)
For a two and a half hour film, it was explosive from beginning to end.
The film was roughly two and a half hours long. There was not a moment that my eyes were able to direct themselves away from the screen. I enjoyed seeing who they cast as Snoop Dogg and Tupac and wanted so badly to see more of them. The two actors (Marcc Rose as Tupac & Keith Stanfield as Snoop) did a phenomenal job as well, but I had to keep in mind that this was a movie about NWA specifically.
I heard one of my cousins say,” I didn’t know Ice Cube was a rapper.” Whenever someone enters the theater to watch this, they will come out, enlightened. Though “Ray” will forever have my heart, this film has become one of my favorites that I can watch over and over.I came close to shedding a tear, laughed hysterically, and rapped terribly in one sitting. Straight Outta Compton will continue to live on in generations to come.
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