If you’re a hip hop head especially from the late 80’s or if you’re a millennial hip hop head who has no knowledge of what hip hop was like back then and you want to get a history lesson from a West Coast perspective, then the newest N.W.A biopic “Straight Outta Compton” is a good flick for you to check out when it releases on August 14th.
I got a chance to sit down and watch the film and I enjoyed it thoroughly despite the fact that it was a bit all over the place. This movie is a biopic but it doesn’t go all the way back to the origin of each character. It kind of starts off with how the group formed by briefly telling each members’ story and then linking them together.
Right away the story starts off with Eazy-E (Jason Mitchell) narrowly escaping a drug deal gone terribly bad. This scene immediately gives you an idea of the circumstances of Eazy-E, Compton in those days, and why N.W.A ultimately ended up being formed. It also gives you scope into what this movie is going to be like.
Right after the opening scene we get to two of the other main characters’ mini story starting with Ice Cube (O’Shea Jackson Jr) who is dealing with the problems of being a talented hip-hop writer and nowhere to direct it. Dre (Corey Hawkins) is struggling with being a young father who doesn’t want to work or go to school to the ire of his mother, but his dream of being a producer was most important. Dj Yella (Neil Brown Jr) and Ren (Aldis Hodge) characters’ fell into the story gradually and they weren’t given the same treatment as Cube and Dre origin wise. Although they were important to the group and story I’m glad the director (F.Gary Gray) decided not to elaborate too much on their stories and focused on the “main” characters.
As the movie progressed the crew members get together and create the song “Boyz in the Hood” by Eazy-E. The song became hugely popular and they were rocking shows and selling their records out of the back of the car and in local record stores. They were finally gaining some ground musically and then Eazy-E meets Jerry Heller (Paul Giamatti) and everything changes…rapidly.
Should I go see this movie?
As a kid that grew up listening to N.W.A (quietly cause my mother would’ve killed me if she found out) I know much of the history and how it went for N.W.A. The more popular they got or more dangerous if you asked the F.B.I at the time. That considered, I won’t giveaway too much of the movie because I think this movie is trying to educate those who DON’T know.
Strangely enough, for a biopic, this movie is not solely about N.W.A the group as much as it’s also about the social circumstances and the tension between hip hop, government and law enforcement and the African-American male. Straight Outta Compton delves into the Rodney King beating, trial and acquittal of the officers involved and the later L.A riots that took place. It shows the dynamic between other players who would later be involved in infamy such as Suge Knight (R. Marcos Taylor). We see some of our favorite rappers cast in this movie if even for a short it was great to see them. Is this movie a biopic the likes of Spike Lee’s Malcolm X or a Gandhi? Hell No. It’s a movie that appeals to the hip hop head old and new as well as the music historian. Is it a must see? I wouldn’t say that it is but if you are one of the type of people then yes it is.