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Straight Outta Compton

Straight Outta Compton

 

By now, I hope everyone has seen the critically acclaimed biopic about N.W.A. Straight Outta Compton. If you haven't seen it, please get off your ass this weekend and go see (support) this movie. The director F. Gary Gray, who has worked with Ice Cube on many different projects including the classic Friday, did an A-1 job with delivering a well fleshed out, cohesive movie. 

I didn't have high expectations for this movie when the idea was first discussed earlier this year. All of the biopics that I saw had a B-Level feel to them. The TLC biopic CrazySexyCool was supremely mediocre. I didn't see Aaliyah's biopic The Princess of R&B, but it seems like NOBODY was impressed or approving of that. Whitney Houston's biopic Whitney was a typical Lifetime movie. And Biggie's biopic Notorious could have been SOOOOO much better. While Notorious wasn't "bad", it just felt empty after it was over. And Biggie had such an impact on hip-hop and hip-hop culture, that the movie could've been a classic. So my trepidation about an N.W.A. biopic was justified in my opinion.

But sometime this spring, I saw the first official trailer for Straight Outta Compton. My interest level shot through the roof. So as the months went by and the movie was given a release date, I got excited. I don't usually get excited for movie releases. With the exception of Avengers 2, I can't recall a movie that I was anxious to see. In June, I saw an interview on either complex.com or youtube with Ice Cube. Cube was talking about how the point of the movie was to show the rise of N.W.A. through each member's eyes, more specifically Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, and Eazy-E. Then I saw the second trailer and I knew that this movie would be EPIC.

Now you have to excuse my bias. But N.W.A. was my favorite rap group growing up. And Ice Cube was my favorite rapper around this time. Before N.W.A., all I remember hearing was New York rappers. People like Rakim, LL Cool J, A Tribe Called Quest, and folks like that dominated the radio. Hell, Boogie Down Production's album Criminal Minded was the first rap album that I remember knowing lyrics to. My older cousin Bernard turned me on to all the rap music. This dude had a crate of cassette tapes. This dude had every album that had come out at this point I believe. I remember going to his house one day in summer of 1988 and this dude was playing Fuck Tha Police. As a 3rd grader, I was blown away. This was the first time I ever heard rappers go like this. Before N.W.A., everybody else was talking about how they were a better rapper than the next rapper and stuff like that. N.W.A. were talking about "real life". I asked my cousin could I borrow the tape. He told me hell no. So a couple of weeks later, I went back around there and planned on making a copy of that song. But little did I know that I was about to have my life changed. I heard the songs Straight Outta Compton, Fuck Tha Police, and Gangsta, Gangsta. The first 3 songs on that album was GREAT. I made a copy of the whole tape. I had officially fallen in love with hip-hop aka "gangster rap".

While at my grandmother's house a couple of weeks later, I turned on the TV (if you don't know what The Box is, you missed out some great stuff) and saw the video for Straight Outta Compton. Look, I've never idolized anyone. But after seeing this video, I wanted to be like N.W.A., more specifically Ice Cube and Eazy-E. Everything about them...the Raider gear, the all black, the gold chains...I wanted in on this. And til this day, I still have never wanted to be like anyone else. That speaks volumes.

So for this reason, this is why the movie Straight Outta Compton meant so much to me. The movie did a great job of introducing you to the main members of N.W.A. including their manager Jerry Heller. N.W.A. is my second favorite rap group of all time (behind Outkast and right above Geto Boys), so I knew the story of how they formed. But it was dope to see the younger generation learn about the background and formation of the group. Straight Outta Compton follows N.W.A. from their formation up until Dr. Dre leaving Death Row Records. 

All of the main actors did an awesome job. Ice Cube's son portrayed his dad perfectly. The mannerisms. The demeanor. The facial expressions. Everything was just like his dad. Jason Mitchell should end up being a star. His portrayal of Eazy-E was amazing. O'Shea Jackson Jr. and Jason Mitchell just introduced their selves to Hollywood. Paul Giamatti also did an awesome job playing Jerry Heller. And I have to give props to Corey Hawkins on his portrayal of Dr. Dre. Neil Brown Jr., who played DJ Yella, had great comedic timing. And even though Aldis Hodge as MC Ren, didn't have many speaking roles, he kind of gave you the menacing feeling that MC Ren portrayed. Just an all around awesome job from the main players.

I only have very minor complaints about the movie. The timeline they had was a bit off. For example, they had 2 Pac recording Hail Mary before California Love. I also felt that the movie could have went a little more in depth in the Ruthless/Death Row beef. Plus there was no mention of Eazy-E's solo debut Eazy Duz It. Which I feel was total disservice because that album is what catapulted N.W.A. to another level. And Eazy Duz It also was the album where MC Ren really got his shine. And the movie also made MC Ren seem like he was a "weak link" or that he had little importance. But in actuality, when Ice Cube left the group, MC Ren, along with D.O.C., were the ones who wrote all of their material. But outside of those minor things, the movie was great. And hell, maybe the Director's Cut will have more stuff on it. I just know I'm buying it the first day it comes out.

This biopic was worth the price of admission. I like that the younger generations have become interested in N.W.A. I even had a younger cousin who is 19 and his friend ask me to put some N.W.A. music on a flash drive for them. Dr. Dre's latest album Compton is number one on iTunes, followed by N.W.A.'s debut album Straight Outta Compton. I feel like not only are younger audiences getting their first taste of N.W.A. but older audiences are going back to revisit the old music. Just know that all that gangsta and trap music we listen to comes from N.W.A. They were the architects of all this "reality based rap" music we listen to. 

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