History was made last night.
The Los Angeles premiere of “Straight Outta Compton,” took place Tuesday night at LA Live’s Microsoft Theater, and organizers pulled out all the bells and whistles. From skywriting “Compton” overhead to rolling out the black (rather than red) carpet to attracting all of the cast members. The event was a prime-ticket occasion. There were writers, directors, producers and stars in attendance as well as a display of 10 low-rider cars.
The movie exposed the heart and soul of NWA’s (N*as With Attitude) early struggle out of which came Ruthless Records, Priority Records and Death Row Records.
The film also offered a peek back into the history of how gangsta rap was created from a young African American male perspective. They produced hit after hit carving out their slice of the American pie.
These young men showed how it does not take a doctorate or secondary degree to define your innermost desire to rise up out of the ghetto in today’s society. The movie also shows it’s not the magnitude of the struggle, but the size of the fight and the strength of the desire in the heart of the man (men) involved in the struggle that matters.
When Easy-E, Dre, Lonzo and company came together, magic took place, lives were changed, and history was rewritten. These youg men seemed to have had a finger on the pulse of a new way of expressing themselves. They took on society and all of its misfortunes, and in the process told stories as they lived them out day-by-day: dodging bullets and dealing with not only the Bloods and the Crips gangs but also the police and the FBI.
As they expressed their opinions, the beats came together to give the world the sound we have today. With drive, and the passion to create, they spread hope to the young, disenfranchised and those not connected to the wealth of the country.
We take our hats off to those five talented lyricists who were bold enough to step out and write and tell the story of their day-to-day lives on the silver screen for all to know how it began.
When it was announced that Dr. Dre and Ice Cube were teaming with Cube’s long-time collaborator, director F. Gary Gray, to produce an N.W.A. biopic, many were hit with a rush of nostalgia and reminded of the first time they heard the shrewd lyrics of the West Coast’s most controversial rap artists.
The excitement was overwhelming at times–with fans taking to social media to pose an endless array of questions about the production and key players involved. The most pressing question included: who would they cast to play the late-great Eazy-E?
Production on “Straight Outta Compton” was marred by controversy even before F. Gary yelled “action.” A casting notice for the biopic was posted online that many deemed offensive and colorist.
Black feminists called for a boycott of the film as a result, and outspoken blogger Christelyn Karazin outlined compelling reasons why ‘No self-respecting Black women should pay to see “Straight Outta Compton.” She explained: “The members of NWA were the fathers of gangster rap, and they’re responsible for the decline of conscious hip hop and the degradation of Black women.”
While we agree that N.W.A are the pioneers of glorifying gangs and disrespecting Black women through musical expression, 15 years after their advent some of the lyrics from their controversial debut album resonate with the country’s current social climate of racial bias and police brutality. When one thinks back on the great conscious rappers of the 1980’s, very few of them have tracks that continue to define a generation like NWA’s “Fk The Police.”
“Straight Outta Compton” is an engaging rags-to-riches story about five Black guys from the hood who used their street smarts and talent to become household names. There’s nothing exceptional about their rise in the music business. You know how it typically goes: shady business manager rips off the talent causing a riff among members, creating tension and inciting fights over money until the act breaks up. In this case, Ice Cube quit the band in 1989 over royalty disputes, and Eazy-E died before their planned N.W.A. reunion.
What makes “Straight Outta Compton” unique is how the story grabs you from the beginning and transports you to Compton; dumping you inside a trap house where you eventually hitch a ride with Dre, Eazy, Cube, Yella and Ren as they navigate their way through racism, classism, and police brutality toward a better way of life.
Watching the film, you are visually intoxicated by their sordid world that contains a hint of familiarity in the form of anti-Black sentiment. You realize their world is like our world now. Much has changed within society, but still so much ugly remains the same …. A young nia got it bad cause I’m brown …” Right?
These young guys took the worst aspects of their lives and transformed them into explicit social commentary that redefined a genre.
What are young rappers talking about today—skinny jeans and poppin’ Molly? Yeah, hardly conscious rap. While many may not fancy N.W.A.’s style, one could lose a debate denying the cultural significance and impact of their music, which can best be digested by appreciating their struggle.
F. Gary Gray put together a remarkable cast that will challenge your emotions with their infectious bond which leaves you breathless and inspired. By the end of the film, you’ll have to remind yourself that actor Jason Mitchell is not Eazy-E reincarnated, nor does he have any relation to the rapper. Yeah, he’s that good.
“Straight Outta Compton” entertains while reminding us that the Black struggle remains. It’s not preachy, but watching it, one realizes that it’s not about the group’s disparaging lyrics; it’s about the social injustice that continues to evolve in Black communities, with no end in sight. This film is about Black folks continuing to have to work 100 times as hard in order to get a taste of that good ol’ fashion American Dream without being harassed by government and local officials.
“Straight Outta Compton” is the most important film you’ll see this year. It’s a movie about history that depicts the present and quite possibly the future.The film hits theaters today.