Straight Outta Compton hits ground running

Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures

Bringing in just over $60 million during opening weekend,  Universal Picture’s Straight Outta Compton topped the box office as the biggest R-rated movie to debut this month, dwarfing Warner Bros.’ The Man From U.N.C.L.E (which debuted on Aug. 14 as well.) Financial statistics aside, Straight Outta Compton, which tells the story of the rise and fall of the group N****z wit’ Attitude (N.W.A), is set in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

This movie is a biographical drama that follows the lives of Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, MC Ren and DJ Yella as they seek to shed light on the conditions of Compton, CA, through the then underrated genre of rap.

Highlighting the fact that during this time gangland shootouts happening alongside unwarranted and violent stop-and-frisks by police officers were so common­­ that no one questioned their occurrences, this movie is a realistic, unapologetic representation of the situation many people faced.

Like many “based on a true story” movies, Straight Outta Compton has a certain appeal to a wide variety of audiences. In this case, the movie hits home for many people because what it portrays is still relevant today given the heightened awareness of police brutality that is still occurring across the country.

However, unlike some of the other “based on a true story” movies — e.g. The Wolf of Wall Street — there isn’t one set “us” versus “them” feel in the movie. The main characters clearly feel embittered by the unjustified use of force by the police on people of color regardless of the situation.

This is emphasized several times in the movie: Ice Cube (O’Shea Jackson Jr.) almost getting arrested as he walks out of a house on his way home, police forcing N.W.A members to the ground after they exited a recording studio to talk with Dr. Dre (Corey Hawkins, The Walking Dead), etc.

These instances fueled N.W.A members’ desires to eliminate this phenomenon by bringing it to the forefront of the media with their music. The aforementioned recording studio incident leads Ice Cube to write the song “F*** Tha Police.” This in turn caused law enforcement to attempt to censor their music and eventually arrest them in Detroit.

The group seems to self-destruct over time anyway with the help of their “manager.” It becomes glaringly apparent over time that the manager is only looking out for Eazy-E (Jason Mitchell) while simultaneously leaving the rest ofthe  N.W.A out in the cold. This adds yet another conflict to the plot.

In addition to the interesting story and background portrayed in Straight Outta Compton, the movie also lends credit and validity to artists like Dr. Dre well as underscoring the work and raw talent needed to not only make it in the music industry but also to be pioneers like N.W.A.

As one of the first groups to not only popularize rap but also to confront many of the political and social issues of the day through their lyrics, N.W.A broke barriers in the music industry and changed how people looked at both musicians and minorities.

Ultimately, Straight Outta Compton is a brutally honest portrayal of the revolution in both the music industry and the United States as a whole as caused by Eazy-E and the N.W.A.

Our Take: 4/5 stars