“You are now about to witness the strength of street knowledge” -Straight Outta Compton
In 1986 that strength was unleashed upon the world and nothing was ever the same again. Widely considered among the earliest in the genre, NWA put hardcore, West Coast rap and hip hop in general on the map. They are the influence for many legendary hip hop/rap artists such as Snoop Dogg, Tupac and Eminem among countless others. Their influence reverberates far beyond their own history making music and spreads into film, politics and so much more. Not only did they launch their own careers that still go strong to this day, they helped others from their own neighborhoods become household names in their respective fields. For example the very person that directed this biopic, F. Gary Gray, was contacted by Ice Cube himself to direct a small film called Friday which only solidified Cube’s career as an actor and Gray’s career as a feature filmmaker. Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Eazy-E, DJ Yella and MC Ren exploded onto the scene in a whirlwind of sex, drugs and inordinate amounts of police harassment.
Their influence much like this movie was derived from the streets of Compton, California. More than just drugs and violence, these streets provided them with inspiration to create music unlike anything anyone had heard before. Little did they know that their simple idea of trying to making it in Compton would lead to worldwide fame and controversy. They would anger governments and test the legal system to its breaking point. They would get harassed by law enforcement and then use their inevitable anger to create impassioned songs of rebellion and a stance for justice. Beyond their own neighborhoods, they spread into the system and turned it on its head for the better. No matter what was to come for them, their presence was to be everlasting.
With a sure handed director and a strong script, the story of the Compton heroes has been brought to the glorious big screen. Acting as a trip down memory lane for some and a history lesson of sorts for others, Straight Outta Compton is a film that has themes relatable to anyone willing to give it a chance. Themes like David vs. Goliath, rags to riches and pursuing happiness at all costs are things that stretch far beyond the West Coast and far beyond this century. But at the core of the film it’s about achieving a collective dream and undying brotherhood despite the great odds. And for these five young men, the odds were about to suckerpunch them damn near every step of the way. Allegiances were tested, relationships strained and lives were ended in what can only be described as a life filled with extraordinary circumstances.
Featuring a cast of almost entirely newcomers; Eazy-E is scarily brought back to life by Jason Mitchell, Ice Cube is recreated by his own son, O’Shea Jackson Jr. Corey Hawkins embodies Dr. Dre as if they were one in the same, Neil Brown Jr. steps into the shoes of DJ Yella and Aldis Hodge rounds out this impressive cast as MC Ren. Also of note is Paul Giamatti who plays Jerry Heller, a manager for musical acts whose motives may not exactly be clear. Friends become foes and vice versa in a world that seems to be more deplorable than the streets they grew up on; they quickly find out the music business is Ruthless.
This movie had me hooked from the first trailer and gladly I can say that it lives up to the hype. Backed by the actual members of NWA and directed by a man who grew up in the same city, this had nowhere to go but up. The soundtrack is of course phenomenal. Filled with classic tracks from NWA (duh), Snoop Dogg, Tupac, Run DMC, George Clinton, Wu-Tang Clan and countless others, this is one hell of a soundtrack to go along with a fantastic story that pays homage to the music that paved the way for so many others. Fans of their music and those who aren’t can all appreciate this film for many different reasons. All around this is a solid effort with strong performances and moments of pure entertainment and drama that all lend to a polished and simultaneously raw feature film about the rap legend royalty known only as NWA.
Rated R For: language throughout, strong sexuality/nudity, violence and drug use
Runtime: 147 minutes
After Credits Scene: No
Genre: Biography, Drama, Music
Starring: O’Shea Jackson Jr, Jason Mitchell, Corey Hawkins, Neil Brown Jr, Aldis Hodge, Paul Giamatti
Directed By: F. Gary Gray
Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 5/ Acting: 4.5/ Directing: 4.5/ Visuals: 4.5
OVERALL: 4.5 Nerdskulls
Check out the trailer below:
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