Straight Outta Compton | Boraaa: Straight Outta Compton

Straight Outta Compton


Everyone is talking about the newly released documentary, ‘Straight Outta Compton’ which focuses on the lives of the rap group N.W.A. Members include Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Easy-E, Dj Yella and MC Ren. The biopic takes the audience through the formation of the group, Ice Cube’s bitter departure, Dr. Dre’s producing career and Eazy-E’s death in 1995. The film covers most of their career but sometimes feels more like a series of vignettes than an in-depth look at one of the most notable rap groups in history.

Straight Outta Compton is by no means a perfect film, biopics in general are very problematic. It is very difficult to grip audiences when they constantly second guess whether the events shown on the screen are real or not. For example, is it true that N.W.A’s song ‘Fuck Tha Police’ was inspired by the fact that the group were being harassed outside the recording studio, leading to Ice Cube laying down the lyrics then and there?!

However, Straight Outta Compton is still one of the most important film releases of 2015; its cultural significance cannot be overstated. It has two key areas of importance: music and film. With N.W.A members becoming rap icons (Ice Cube and Dr. Dre), as well as being major influences for modern rap artists such as Kendrick Lamar, 50 Cent and Eminem, I’m surprised that it has taken Hollywood so long to produce this film.

Despite only releasing two albums, N.W.A made a lasting impact on the music industry as a whole. The group released Niggaz4Life in 1991, but Straight Outta Compton (1995) contained their most popular and influential hits such as Fuck Tha Police, Express Yourself and Straight Outta Compton. Their biting lyrics, original sound and their outright criticism of the law made them one of the most notorious groups in America. It gave a voice to a voiceless community. However, while the lyrics perhaps justifiably criticised law enforcement authorities, they also often included blatant examples of misogyny and homophobia.

The film has already recouped its $58 million budget by almost doubling what it was predicted to in its opening weekend. The film so far has grossed over $74 million in the US alone and it will continue to grow as it is yet to be released in the UK.

From a cinematic standpoint, it is not often that large summer Hollywood blockbusters have an all black cast and a black director. A shameful fact. John Singleton, director of Boyz N The Hood, starring Ice Cube and Cuba Gooding Jr, noted that the studios are refusing ‘to let African-Americans direct black-themed films.’ Therefore, Straight Outta Compton is a step in the right direction.

Of course, the film isn’t without its issues. The inherent misogyny and treatment of women is quite unsettling, and Dre’s reported history of domestic violence appears to have expunged. However, the film takes its much needed place in cinema history by detailing the legacy of one of the most important groups in the history of contemporary American music, while also showing that Hollywood is capable of diversity.

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