“You are about to witness the strength of street knowledge.” That quote from Dr. Dre is the perfect statement for the Straight Outta Compton, the biopic about one of the most controversial Rap groups ever: N.W.A.
What does N.W.A stand for you ask? Well, for the Hip-Hop deficient readers, it means “N***as With Attitudes”. See why they were so controversial now? At a time when most East Coast emcees rhymed about their lyrical supremacy on the mic, Eric Wright, Andre Young, O’Shea Jackson, Lorenzo Patterson, and Antoine Carraby gave us their account of black life on the left coast – Compton, California to be exact. Not only does the movie tell the tale of how these future superstars met, it explains why they felt the way they did and justification behind those 100-proof bars written.
Director F. Gary Gray (Friday, Set it Off) gives the audience a peek into young, African-American treatment in South Central Los Angeles during the crack era by police and its ripple effect on black communities world-wide. Biopics are hard to do because you have to deal with the truth and bruising egos. Sometimes the subjects can’t handle the truth. Gray makes sure the truth sets Straight Outta Compton free. You see the realest portrayals of these artists by a cast of actors that are the best group of performers you’ll ever see. O’Shea Jackson Jr (Ice Cube), Corey Hawkins (Dr. Dre), Jason Mitchell (Easy E), Aldis Hodge (MC Ren), and Neil Brown (DJ Yella) make you proud as you watch this film. They are all phenomenal. Stars are born, I tell ya! The relationship of these five friends and their relationship with manager Jerry Heller, played by Paul Giamatti, (who is absolutely BRILLIANT in his portrayal, by the way) is unapologetic. Everything you may have heard about the group, but weren’t so sure what was legit is touched upon; the FBI’s letter to the group, the shady business dealings and artist favoritism, Ice Cube’s departure and his beef with N.W.A…what REALLY happened. On top of that, the movie even delves into scenes post-N.W.A. The Death Row era…maaaaaan listen!
R. Marcus Taylor plays Suge Knight to a T! For a biopic involving a hardcore rap group like N.W.A., you would expect it to be tough and rigid, full of misogyny. Let me tell you something; I was in this theater FIGHTING back tears. For all those who constantly want rappers to “keep it real,” Straight Outta Compton is as real as it gets. This movie hits your emotions with a right-left, right-left, you’re toothless. Then you’ll say “Cot-dayum it’s ruthless!”
I’m gonna keep it one hunnid with y’all (that’s right…”hunnid”), I hated N.W.A. growing up. I thought they started the destruction of Hip-Hop. What I failed to see was the gross mistreatment of a minority group and the boldness of a five brothas who took it upon themselves to expose injustice to the world via beats and rhymes. It was reality-rap and most of us wanted to bury our heads in the sand.
Injustice is seldom pretty and N.W.A. reported the ills of society like a CNN correspondent. People have asked me if Straight Outta Compton is better than biopics like Ray, The Doors, and What’s Love Got To Do With It. I say, “Hell yeah!” This movie speaks to my generation, Generation X, with fervor on a megaphone so loudly that it echoes to the generation after mine. I’m co-signing this one to the FULLEST! If you don’t check out Straight Outta Compton, put a quarter in ya a$$ because you played yourself.
In the words of the great Dr. Dre, “Daaaayum that sh*t was dope!”