You are about to witness the strength of SPOILER knowledge.
Straight outta East Randomtown, crazy blogger named BQB.
I write all the time but only 3.5 people ever read me.
BQB here with a review of the NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton.
Oh, just an FYI – this trailer has butts in it. In fact, this movie has a lot of butts in it because these guys partied hard. So don’t watch the trailer or the movie it if you don’t like or are offended by butts.
Rap. It’s been around since the 1970’s. But there was a time when the most controversial lyrics came from the Sugar Hill Gang complaining about having to pretend the food at your friend’s house is good even though it makes you want to reach for a bottle of Kaopectate.
That all changed in the mid 1980s when a group of friends got together to form NWA. If you’re not in the know, I’ll let you figure out what the N stands for on your own.
Our tale begins in 1986 with Dr. Dre getting lectured by his mother that he has to quit being a DJ and get a job to support his son. Meanwhile, O’Shea Jackson aka Ice Cube scribbles lyrics in a notebook on the school bus. Eric Wright aka Easy E starts out as a heavy duty gangster, participating in serious drug deals.
I’ll let you watch rather than spill the details, but long story short, these three (not to be rude but other than Dre, Easy E, Ice Cube and MC Ren I have a tendency to forget the names of the other NWA members) end up with some studio time. They encourage Easy E, who has never rapped before, to give his rendition of Ice Cube’s Boyz In Da Hood and the rest is history.
But their road to stardom is rocky. There’s the logistical problem. They’re openly swearing and talking about sex, drugs, and violence and that wasn’t exactly a surefire way to get what every aspiring musician needs – radio airplay.
Then there’s the political problems. They have a song called F$%k the Police which as you can imagine, doesn’t make the police very happy. On top of that, people aren’t happy about the idea of young people listening to music about sex, drugs, violence etc.
But somehow against all the odds they hit the big time. They find an unlikely ally in Jerry Heller, a music business manager who represented a lot of acts in the 1960s but didn’t inspire much confidence in the 1990s. The boys call him Mr. Furley (the bumbling old landlord from Three’s Company).
I won’t give too much away but suffice to say, disputes over money break the buddies apart. Dr. Dre and Ice Cube go out on their own. Fighting ensues, sometimes hilariously in the form of “diss songs” filled with lyrics in which NWA and Ice Cube trash each other, at other times tragically as violence ensues.
One criticism levied at the film by movie reviewers has been that the film might paint NWA in too good a light, that maybe they left some disturbing things on the cutting room floor, Dr. Dre’s physical attack on a female reporter, for example.
Then again, the film is pretty open about a lot of negative things, some of the most memorable:
- Easy E is shown taking part in a drug deal turned violent.
- Dr. Dre, who left NWA to work with Suge Knight, goes out on his own again when he witnesses Suge using an attack dog to scare a man into hiding under a table in his underwear.
- Ice Cube takes a baseball bat to the office of a record executive who he feels has not given him his due.
- A dude comes to the boys’ hotel room looking for trouble. Easy E pulls a gun on him. The gun is so elaborate with a scope and various attachments that it looks like it belongs on a battlefield instead of in the hands of a rapper.
Could troubling aspects of their past been left out? Maybe, but perhaps that was only because they only had two hours to fit in all the disturbing stuff they did put in.
It’s well produced, acted, directed, a good story worth a rental.
Are they heroes who promoted free speech or outlaws who cashed in on dirty lyrics, opening up the floodgates for artists to focus less on the art and more on being controversial?
You be the judge. I have mixed feelings. I don’t really want to “F$%k the Police.” But I also enjoy a good beat.
All I know is I’m getting old. Doesn’t seem like it was long ago that these guys and their proteges were on the radio all the time. Actors playing Snoop Dogg and Tupac stop by.
Millennials, you’ll know when you’re old when the Justin Bieber Story comes out.