Straight Outta Compton
I think it would help if we all knew what NWA stands for. What if everyone could say it with a smile?
Straight Outta Compton, a film directed with extraordinary grace, style and energy by F. Gary Gray, is a stunning work of historical cinematic art. It is magnificent, overwhelming, engrossing and enormously relevant to this very day.
The film centers on the energy of NWA as it emerged from the streets of Compton in 1986 to redefine hip hop music and the culture of this country. Centering on Dr. Dre, Eazy-E and Ice Cube, you watch in awe as musicians transform their experiences on the streets of LA into sellout musical venues around the country. Profanity becomes a poetic art form, and it was a joy watching the audience continually dance in their seats. The fact that I was the only Caucasian in the entire crowd made the entire experience more meaningful. (And yes, I was not sitting still!)
You are going to understand the significance of this film and the movement created by NWA with a combination of both sympathy and pleasure. These teenagers in Compton continually endured brutal treatment from the local police department, and this assault continued with written threats from the FBI to stop singing the songs focusing on police misconduct. It is hard to believe that the police in Detroit not only shut down their concert around 1990, but proceeded to arrest all of the band members based solely on the content of their music.
Several of the performances are worthy of Oscar consideration, and that begins with O’Shea Jackson, Jr. as Ice Cube, Corey Hawkins as Dr. Dre and Jason Mitchell’s embodiment of Eazy-E. Their performances allowed you to reconnect with recent history, and it was easy to excuse their flamboyant parties filled with unlimited booze and scantily clad women.
It is also worth noting that Paul Giamatti delivers an impressive performance as Jerry Heller, the businessman who first brought NWA to a national audience. Sure, he played fast and loose with their assets, but he resembled a birth mother who deserved praise despite her unfortunate promiscuity.
As you watch the disgusting mistreatment of young black men in LA by the police department which led to the tragic beating of Rodney King in 1991, you are reminded of the problem that still permeates our national soul. Regardless of the excuses, the mistreatment of black men by various police agencies has to be excised and finally condemned to our national grave.
This movie is a reminder that all Americans should stand together in the face of this unconscionable discrimination and not spend time ridiculing the music that points a finger in the face of this cancerous scourge.