by Trinity James for The David Minor Theater
Straight Outta Compton is one of my favorite movies to come out since the first of The Hobbit trilogy. It’s over two hours long, but I felt intrigued watching pop culture twist in the midst of the war on drugs from the perspective of artists I grew up with, so it did not even feel long. The acting is surreal. Shea O’ Jackson Jr. plays his dad Ice Cube, who was on set with his co-executive producer, Dre. The soundtrack is exceptional, especially if you like gangster rap. The music follows the timeline of the original west-coast rap group, the N*ggas With Attitude’s discography, but all the songs were enhanced for the movie, by adding modern transitions and more beats (by Dre, of course).
I feel that Dre & Cube recorded the best memories of themselves; winners write history and in this case this richest (and most alive) members of the N.W.A. wrote the history of West Coast Rap. In the beginning of the movie, Dre is portrayed as a victim of society when he skips his job interviews, when he leaves his mom’s house, and when he can’t show support for his baby and her momma because of those choices. Yet, he still is the voice of reason during group conflict. Dre & Cube got the final say in scenes that depict Eric “Eazy E” Wright’s contributions to N.W.A. and developed his personality to the audience. I don’t know if my gut feeling is right about how Dre & Cube portrayed their friend, Eazy E, but I do know Dre and the director F. Gary Grey chose to exclude Dr. Dre’s attacks against female journalists and ex-partners, which means that some details of the formation of the N.W.A. were purposely left out from the movie. The movie shouldn’t be watched as a documentary on how the N.W.A. started but rather as a movie of how gangster rap grew from police oppression in ghettos.
The movie was how it depicts what the war on drugs was all about and how the continuous police brutality that we know today actually stems from the 1980’s. I never knew what the 80’s/90’s felt like until I watched Straight Outta Compton. The stories of the LAPD from the 1980’s events we hear about today, almost on a daily basis. In the movie we see handcuffs on wrists before police know their purpose and we see unconstitutional arrests provoked by racism. These events took place regularly in these boys’ neighborhood which led them to develop vulgar opinions against police. The group combined their talents with their gangster attitudes to produce music that told their generation a story. The N.W.A. paved the road for rappers in the music industry, and their experience made a fascinating movie.