Eazy-E (Jason Mitchell), Dr. Dre (Corey Hawkins) and Ice Cube (O’Shea Jackson Jr.) in Straight Outta Compton (Jaimie Trueblood/Universal Studios)
F. Gary Gray’s highly anticipated biopic Straight Outta Compton is exciting, relevant and worth the wait. Having former members Dr. Dre and Ice Cube executive produce the movie gives it the credibility and insight necessary to tell about one of the most controversial groups in music history, N.W.A.
The film tells the story of how the influential rap group N.W.A. came to be – from the first meetings and seeing how the teenagers developed a friendship that would go through its trials and tribulations with their sudden rise to fame. Raised in Compton, Calif., the five members (Eazy-E, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, MC Ren and DJ Yella) found an outlet for their anger with what was happening in their community at the time. Drugs and gang activity were rampant during the late ’80s and early ’90s prompting LAPD to crack down in an aggressive manner. This, however, was geared at anyone who was a young black male regardless of a rap sheet.
Ice Cube (portrayed by his son, O’Shea Jackson Jr.) writes rhymes about his experience and links with DJ Andre “Dr. Dre” Young (Corey Hawkins) who is a beat maker. They get into the studio with the not-so-clean financial backing of Eazy-E (Jason Mitchell). With two more friends, DJ Yella (Neil Brown Jr.) and MC Ren (Aldis Hodge), the group is now complete.
The opening scene of the movie is so powerful, you know you will be in for a treat. The film runs a true 147 minutes, yet it flies by as you are emerged in the story unfolding. If you were too young to know N.W.A. in their prime or even understand “gangster rap” as it was labeled, you come out of the film with an understanding of how life was for them on a daily basis. Angry, disregarded and feeling as if you were a disposable part of society, the rage makes sense. Their debut album in 1988, Straight Outta Compton, made people stop and listen and also a bit uncomfortable with what was being said. Especially with songs like “Fuck tha Police,” which garnered attention from the FBI.
The performances in this film were stellar. Jackson, who uncannily resembles his father, hit the nail on the head portraying Ice Cube. Mitchell shines as Eazy-E with mannerisms, sound and demeanor. Even portrayals of Suge Knight (R. Marcos Taylor) send shivers down your spine. Paul Giamatti rounds out the cast playing their manager, Jerry Heller, who ultimately drives a wedge between the group.
Although the film doesn’t do 100-percent accurate portrayals of all the members (Dr. Dre conveniently leaves out his alleged violence against women.), it still serves as a great story worth watching. Things that were happening then with police abuses are occurring to this day, causing a new generation to stand up and fight. Straight Outta Compton is a pretty complete biopic about a very historic musical group.
Straight Outta Compton
Now in theaters
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