27 years ago an album hit shelves that would transcend the hip hop culture. NWA released Straight Outta Compton in August of 1988 it was reality rap of young black youth who were no longer going to sit in silence but give their truth of the perils and complexities of living in the hood. That truth just happened to be over a dope beat.  The album was a true to life report of the Compton streets in an effort to put their city on the map while giving their true to life input and insight. Echoes of police brutality has gone on deaf ears in America because in 2015 the song “F*** Tha Police”, seems more and more relevant with the current injustice that men and women of color have been enduring  and viewed across the world one hashtag at a time..   This movie is a modern day Westside Story but not the Jets vs the Sharks but The Establishment vs The People of Compton. The voices of the people were echoed with every hot 16 of Eazy-E, Ice Cube, and MC Ren, every  of DJ Yella,  and the precision of Dr. Dre’s production. No longer did the people have a silent voice but they now have a soundtrack or theme music to the life and lifestyle they were living.

Straight Outta Compton from beginning to end was what I had anticipated.  I became a witness of street knowledge, knowledge which many of us unwillingly inherited.  It was our survival kit of being birthed black and in the hood. .  I took a ride back in time to an era when I first met hip hop.  The experience can be quantified in Dr. Dre’s latest album Compton the song “Talking To My Diary”, where he reminisces on the introduction into his career the passion the pain the struggle the triumph.  It’s as if Andre Young’s diary was opened and played out in film.

The movie starts in a brief snapshot into the reality of its main characters. You see Dr. Dre , Ice Cube, and Eazy- E’s  life play out in a climatic fashion. The three men had contrasting lifestyles which made their elements essential to the group. Eric Wright, Eazy-E, the true to life dope dealer street gangster really lived the rhymes he spit, is shown in a failed attempt at collecting drug money and escaping a police kick in. Andre Young, Dr. Dre being the aficionado of music, he lives for the melodies and soulful sounds of the 70’s and 80’s era he is thoroughly immersed in the music so much that it is put in front of his life and its responsibilities. His  snap shot is depicted as living with his mom until he decides to leave after a single mother’s ultimatum go on deaf ears, not to mention he loses his girl and first born due to music  getting in the way of his responsibility. From day one he is in a fight for the one thing he loves and is truly great at, his music.  Also highlighted is O’Shea Jackson, Ice Cube. Cube is the writer, he is Mr. Wordplay & Delivery, you see his story as a dream chaser from writing rhymes on the bus as he is bussed from the hood and bussed to suburbia where he sees the perils of the inner city leaving home, sees the fantasy of the suburban schools, and returns and is reminded of the city he is from. It is if his journey unlocks the paradox of what we live and what we aspire to be and the ink is refueled when Cube’s pen hits the paper, In his snapshot we witness him writing rhymes on the bus going back to the hood and kids on the bus begin to antagonize some bloods out the window, yelling out “crip” and “what up cuz”. In gangsta fashion the bloods stop the bus and enter armed and teach the kids a lesson on living street life and false flagging.

What the viewer will love is the VH1esque behind the music formula that was brought to life through director F Gary Gray’s realistic approach of showing the process of perils, pain, and passion that led to the album Straight Outta Compton . You get a full glimpse of the ascension the fame and the decline of NWA as well as the aftermath of Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, and Ice Cube. Not quite a classic at first view but a good big screen biopic that is worthy of your $10 ticket.

Brandon Kendrick


DeWarren Smith