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Let me preface this post by saying that I love Gangsta Rap. I always have and I always will. Growing up in LA in the 80’s and 90’s, it was what we listened to and what we blasted from our ghetto blasters on the porch or in our rides on Crenshaw on Sunday nights. It was part of the fabric of our existence in the hood and while White America didn’t understand it and thought that N.W.A. was being disrespectful to authority and women (which, yes women were), they didn’t understand that what N.W.A. rapped about was what we saw and lived with day in and day out. It was our reality, not just in Los Angeles but in every other ghetto, all over America and for that reason alone, all of us who could identify with the situations that N.W.A spoke of became lifelong fans of their music. This is why so many of us are endorsing the film, Straight Outta Compton…we lived it.
With all that being said, I almost let my bourgeoisie side talk me out of seeing, Straight Outta Compton. Although I love Gangsta Rap, I have come a long way since growing up in South Central LA, Compton and Inglewood. Now my days are spent in the suburbs of the Inland Empire and I thought for sure that it wouldn’t be playing in many theatres out here. Boy was I surprised that not only was it playing everywhere but with more showings per day than usual opening weekends. So needless to say, I was there and guess what? Many of my white neighbors were, too, because they either loved Gangsta rap, N.W.A or wanted to see what they hype was all about. Let’s remember that middle class white teenagers were the biggest consumers of rap music in the 80’s, so of course, they would be here to see Straight Outta Compton. Anyway, I digress….
I am so glad that I put aside my bourgeoieness (is that even a word?) and let my love of Gangsta Rap and Ice Cube prevail because Straight Outta Compton was the BOMB! Now, I don’t put my stamp of approval on bullshit and Straight Outta Compton was far from that.
In case you have been living under a rock or you are a youngster who wasn’t born until the late 90’s, Straight Outta of Compton is a biopic based on the members of N.WA…Eric “Eazy-E” Wright, Andre “Dr. Dre” Young, O’Shea “Ice Cube” Jackson, Antoine “DJ Yella” Carraby and Lorenzo “MC Ren” Patterson who released their ground-breaking LP, Straight Outta Compton, in 1988. The unapologetic album put the city of Compton on the map, and as a result, give insight into what was happening in Compton and the streets of LA, which included the police brutality that was happening in the streets of LA.
Produced by original N.W.A members Ice Cube and Dr. Dre, along with Tomica Woods-Wright (Eazy-E’s wife), and directed by Gary Gary, who brought us Friday, the film showed things that the fans knew about like the death of Dr. Dre’s brother, The D.O.C’s car accident and Dr. Dre leaving Death Row Records but more importantly, it gave us an in-depth look at the relationship between Easy E and Jerry Heller, Ice Cube’s leaving Ruthless Records, Suge Knight’s efforts to get Dre released from is contract with Ruthless Records and the treatment of black folks by the police (strange how that hasn’t changed, right?). Their portrayal of Shuge Knight was everything that we thought of him and envisioned life to be like on Death Row for lack of a better word…BANANAS.
The production was on point and they did one hell of a job casting for the members of N.W.A., as well as, all key characters in the film.The only person who didn’t look anything like the character they portrayed was Keith Stanfield as Snoop Dogg. The break out star in the movie was by far, Ice Cube’s son, O’Shea Jackson, Jr. Let me tell you that he played the hell out of that role. Let me state for the record that young Cube wasn’t given the role because he is Ice Cube’s son but instead had to fight for it like everyone else. In order to make sure that everyone was on point in their roles as of the N.W.A. members, the cast members re-recorded, Straight Outta Compton album to help them prepare for their roles.
Of course, the film doesn’t go into or even allude to the Dr. Dre’s problem with keeping his hands off women but did show the positive interactions between Ice Cube and his wife, Kim and Easy E and his wife, Tomika. They included the crazy groupies and life on the road, as well as Easy E’s infamous pool parties. They never showed any disrespect to women in the film, unless you count the “Bye, Felicia” scene but kicking a groupie out of your hotel room, half-naked after her man comes looking for her with guns drawn doesn’t count. I’m sure some will argue that those hotel scenes were degrading to woman but let’s be honest…there are women, who even today, degrade themselves to be “chosen” by rappers, ball players and men in the entertainment industry.
While I think the film was terrific and sent me back down memory lane and gave insight into the story behind N.W.A., Straight Outta Compton, was a bit self-serving to Dr. Dre in that he didn’t tell his “entire” story but hey, a film can only be so long right? Straight Outta Compton will indeed become a cult classic, joining the ranks of films like Boyz N The Hood and Menace to Society and has solidified N.W.A.’s place in rap history.