Straight Outta Compton: a review
Why I dug 'Straight Outta Compton': I saw a story that should be told about a young group that was incredibly influential I really enjoyed seeing “Straight Outta Compton.” It was certainly told from the perspective
Why I dug ‘Straight Outta Compton’: I saw a story that should be told about a young group that was incredibly influential
I really enjoyed seeing “Straight Outta Compton.” It was certainly told from the perspective of the group members (Dre, Cube, and Eazy-E’s wife Tomica), but “Straight Outta Compton” had everything a good story needs; tragedy, energy, humor, conflict, and life lessons.
It begins with hair-raising action that sets the tone for what will be an entertaining, funny, and sad ride. Those that want a mea culpa about the excesses that N.W.A. portrayed on record (disrespecting women, raunchy lyrics, gangster lifestyle), won’t get it. Even though there is certainly creative license confirmed by my dear friend Lonzo Williams, who discovered Dre and was portrayed in the film, there was enough truth that you could get what is a real story about some brothers that took a vision and ran with it.
It was probably more fair to Jerry Heller than it had to be; though he would be a villain to some, he was shown to be a man who knew about the music business, but had a sensitive side and cared for the guys on some level, and like many of us, started from the standpoint of his own perspective.
Hearing those songs took me right back to where I was at the time. It was the music of the time, certainly for many young African-Americans and many others due to going platinum and wrecking the Billboard pop album charts. I was nodding my head [affirmatively] through a lot of it, enjoying myself, keeping it real. There is no question that their songs, including “F— the Police,” were controversial, but only because on some level the songs confirmed what was going on, which continues to go on today.
“Straight Outta Compton,” does show how one initially successful venture after another, (Ruthless, Death Row) ended their runs at the top with egos, drama and misunderstanding. Of course, the lyrics were excessive, threatening and inexcusable to many, but they spoke in a voice for a lot of folks; they conveyed what people thought, and there were reasons for those thoughts. Even when they were less than desirable.
The reality was also less than desirable. One affects the other.
I was somewhat conflicted about seeing the movie. On the one hand, I threw out my gangster rap when my daughter, Julia was born. I loved the Chronic album, artistically, but thought it was the beginning of the end of hip-hop being fun and relatively safe. On the other hand, I spent summer `86 in Compton, where I first heard “Boyz n the Hood” before their label deal, and there was a pride that these local kids were getting down with something fresh and honest. It struck a chord. I was brought back to some of the feelings that I had about the excess (“oh, snap they said the s— word on a record…but it rhymed and it was cool!) and Rodney King (“it’s on film…how could they be found not guilty?)
And, as they should have, Ice Cube and Dre have evolved from the hard-core hip-hop game into other things, even if they still see the game and recognize it. These guys were literally teenagers when they got down, and they were everything that came with being teenagers, including a naïve and brash enough to do what they wanted to do. As it turns out, they were doing something very important all the while—which they saw and ran with. The way the movie was done leaves the audience to judge how we felt about it all, which is fair.
And people will judge. When they do, some may see some young men that glorified negative themes and exacerbated problems in the community; some may see capitalism used to exploit young kids from the ‘hood, creating great wealth at the top and not enough acknowledgment to move us forward on the issues they pointed out.
I saw a story that should be told about a young group that was incredibly influential in not only the history of hip hop but in creating relevant social commentary for the time, which is still relevant today.