You are now about to witness the strength of street knowledge in Straight Outta Compton
Directed by F. Gary Gray, ‘Straight Outta Compton’ is the recently released N.W.A. biopic, exploring their journey into stardom and the hardships faced along the way.
The film begins with one of the most riveting open scenes I have witnessed in quite some time; guns, police, flashing lights, screaming and intense music. Brilliantly setting the atmosphere for the film, viewers are treated to an insight into the younger lives of the three main members of the group – Dr. Dre, Ice Cube and Eazy-E. They are struggling, still living at their parents’ homes, truly thrilled by making a measly $50, but all with an infectious love and passion for making music.
Compton, where they live, is far from any sort of utopia, riddled with violence, despair, and what seems to be whole generations of families locked into lives of unemployment and hopelessness. Until of course these boys, plus MC Ren and DJ Yella, ascend from the debauchery their community has been imbued with and release the hottest tracks going around.
The concert sequences are great, the parties are enticing, and their camaraderie is envious. They provided a real voice that was previously non-existent; growing up in Compton where the police would ruthlessly discriminate on them for simply looking suspicious, they produced songs which reflected their times in ‘CPT’. ‘F*** Tha Police’ is a prime example of such, as it derives from brutal beat-downs by the cops.
Straight Outta Compton is great.
One of its most powerful attributes is the ability to juxtapose the macho and emotional sides of these men. They are presented as powerful, not scared of anyone, and yet they still embody many qualities of the ordinary person; mourning and crying at the death of a loved one, working hard to endure difficult times while being disenfranchised members of society, as well as deep, personal and meaningful conversations. Following a consistent trend among those ‘based on true events’ films, the emotions are rather dramatized, as it has been widely noted that Eazy-E was in fact quite a tempered individual and not really the one to have tears running down his face.
Unfortunately, the second portion of the movie is consumed by less-exciting contract disputes, betrayal and an array of other issues.
Luckily it is during this time that we witness the great ‘No Vaseline’ by Ice Cube, one of the legendary ‘Diss-tracks’ of the Rap/Hip Hop scene. The reaction is priceless and does not seem contrived.
While we’re on the topic of the music in this film – the soundtrack is memorable and refreshing. Titled ‘Compton’, primarily Dre’s 2015 album, there is a great variety of songs that suit the occurrences in the movie itself, providing an authentic experience for new-comers to West-Coast Rap. My personal favourite song comes right at the end, ‘Talking to My Diary’, as it serves as a great way to conclude the movie.
The acting in this movie cannot be faulted, due to the rigorous selection process the creators of the film, including Dr. Dre and Ice Cube, went to in order to select the most suitable candidates.
Ice Cube’s son portrays his own father, and does a commendable job at doing so, having a personal and intimate understanding of the type of character he was playing. The clear standout is Jason Mitchell, who does a breathtaking performance of recreating Eazy-E. Moreover, the little cameos are also remarkable, ranging from a crazily accurate younger version of 2Pac (maybe it was the real 2Pac…is he still alive?!) and Snoop Dogg.
Seeing this movie in the cinema with my friend, along with others who we quickly learned were also N.W.A. fans, it was a joy being able to sing along and enjoy all the true historical references and lyrics. Driving home was great fun, as we were all hyped up and pumping out ‘Express Yourself’, ‘Gangsta Gangsta’ and ‘If It Ain’t Ruff’.
Overall, this is a guaranteed good time. Perhaps not so suitable for young viewers due to the drug and sex scenes as well as the excessive amount of swearing, however, a valid representation of the rise of eventual decay and decline of N.W.A.