A couple of years ago I heard that a N.W.A biopic was in the works. I got super excited and immediately re-added Boyz-n-the-Hood and Fuck Tha Police to my music playlists at home and in my car. Fast forward to 2015 and the film has finally dropped. Unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to see it fresh on the circuit and only got around to seeing it recently.
I must say that it feels like it was “worth the wait”. What an awesome film! The film follows the entire N.W.A crew as well as their associates, but much of the focus is on Ice Cube, Dr. Dre and Eazy-E. If I’m completely honest it feels like this is really Eric Wright’s (Eazy-E) story.
We see the beginnings of the crew that would become legendary; the currents that will cause these individuals to collide and create something that will revolutionize music forever: Eazy-E caught up in his drug dealing, having a close call and being more inclined to quit the game; Dr.Dre being kicked out of his house and becoming independent and paving his own path as a result – tenacity that will come to define him as a man; Ice Cube having a close encounter with gang violence that I would suggest shapes his hard and aggressive flow and general approach to his early music.
N.W.A was brilliant because of how raw and honest they were about life in the hood. When they were told they were promoting violence, they reminded the middle-to-upper class affluent finger-pointers that they (N.W.A) were talking about their actual lives and telling the story of the life they experience in the ghetto: No lies, no censorship. Many found that hard to swallow, but for every one person turned off by N.W.A, 10 more were inspired to rebel against the system; to stand up to The Man.
I’m not going to give away much more of the plot, but you can be damn sure that there is a ton of drama, conflict, betrayal, joy and music all of which will leave you in a state of awe. The script is brilliantly crafted in a way that lays the seeds early on for what blossoms later on in each of the characters’ lives: some seeds provide a prosperous future, others are more tragic – sometimes both. But that’s how life is I guess, and that’s what Straight Outta Compton manages to capture.
One thing that kind of pissed me off about the reaction to the film was that people were somewhat surprised by how well it did at both the box office and according to critics. I’ve read many publications talking about their surprise that a “Black Film” could do so well; or rather their comment on the fact that everyone else is surprised that a “Black Film” could do so well. This conversation in itself is kind of sickening. This isn’t a “Black Film”. It’s just a great story; a great story about legendary musicians who changed the way people thought and the way people listened to music.
Another criticism mentioned was the lack of a focus on the relationships with women that some of the members of N.W.A had, including what some have called abusive relationships. I realize the necessity for as much truth in a biopic as possible, but at the same time I don’t think the lack of this element removes anything from the story.
There’s no mention of the people working below the poverty line for Apple in the Steve Jobs biopic. Now, this opinion may offend some people, but all I’m saying is that nobody asks this question when literally every biopic in the world comes out. This isn’t victim blaming; I’m just stating the opinion that every inclusion and omission does not have to be scrutinized in every single biopic that comes out, because biopics and documentaries are different.
One last thing to mention about the film is that the casting is unbelievably well done. They must have taken ages to cast just right. I don’t think I’ve seen an ensemble this size that manages to have the looks, voices and nuances of the individuals on which they are based done so perfectly. Each character that popped up was a fully believable version of the person they are playing.
In essence, this film is definitely worth your time, so go and check it out! My only wish is that they did this as a mini series instead of a film. I think it would have made an amazing limited series, progressing through the years more slowly, and including more intricate details over time in this way.
Favorite Moment: NWA performing Fuck Tha Police in Detroit.
See it/ Don’t see it: Definitely see it as soon as you can; but at roughly 2.5 hours make sure you are wide awake before you start. Either way, I think it will keep you glued to the screen.
Check out the trailer for Straight Outta Compton below: