You don’t realise the depth of the N.W.A. story until you see it presented in a film like ‘Straight Outta Compton’.
This was an incredibly emotional portrayal of one of the most important groups and the Hip-Hop scene that they emerged from.
Their story has many fascinating dimensions that are often overlooked due to the mainstream media’s terminal condemnation of their lyrical content.
N.W.A. faced the age old struggles that all artists have faced at some point; bad management, bad contracts, bad decisions. They faced direct racial harassment from the Police, the well documented problems of inner city life, whilst trying to come to terms with the transition from ‘Boyz in the hood’ to manhood. Its easy to forget that N.W.A. were first and formost a group of young men that were just trying to make it.
This film is an accurate reflection of one of the greatest Hip-Hop eras
Its always difficult to get these kind of biopics right as there were so many experiences and perspectives, it’s impossible to fit all of them into a couple of hours and please everyone. It feels like this was a strong honest attempt and the end result was amazing.
Anyone who came up in the 90’s will feel a personal connection with the individual historical moments within the film. This era was before the internet and the concept of ‘Behind the scenes’, so the insight given in this film is fascinating, it draws you back into the 90s all over again. You feel the energy and passion of ‘The World’s most dangerous group’ struggle and fight to be successful.
The scenes that document the music making process are meticulously shot, there are several key moments throughout the film that are literally jaw dropping. One of the highlights is where Dr Dre meets Tupac in the studio recording ‘Hail Mary’, the uncanny likeness of Marcc Rose as Pac was both incredibly accurate and eerie. You’re happy to see Pac in his prime, but the moment is a sad reminder of the tragedy that followed.
In 2015, some of the traditional corporate media outlets are still trying to focus on the negative aspects of the story, giving one sided perspectives of the N.W.A. legacy. Fortunately, it’s a different day the internet provides much more of a level playing field for positive Hip-Hop coverage. Lets see if the Oscars mirror this Cultural shift and recognise the talents of O’Shea Jackson Jr. who played Ice Cube, Corey Hawkins who played Dre, or F. Gary Gray who directed and documented the pivotal historic chain of events.
It was a big responsibility to get ‘Straight Outta Compton’ right as N.W.A. and their DNA continue to change the face of Popular Culture and Technological advancements. They spawned the direct lineage of genre defining artists such as Snoop Dogg, Tupac, 50 Cent, Eminem, and Kendrick Lamar. While the Beats collaboration with Apple signifies the first cohesive relationship between Music and Technology.
Hopefully the phenomenal box office success of ’Straight out of Compton’ will turn attention to the possibility of more Hip-Hop biopics. The celluloid stories of Tupac, and other Hip-Hop empires are waiting to be told, and could be equally successful if treated with the same care and respect.
Although there are cries of missing parts of the story or people portrayed in the wrong light, it feels and looks like F. Gary Gray nailed it. This was a difficult and complex story, regardless of the fact that some of the truths may have not been told, it’s as great as you could hope for. This film is an accurate reflection of one of the greatest Hip-Hop eras, it’s a story that is equally as relevant today as it was then.