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My thoughts on “Straight Outta Compton”

Less than a week after its release, Straight Outta Compton is already one of the most successful Rap based films ever. With that, it’s also one of the most controversial and debated Rap films that I can recall. Most of us have always felt that Rap films come off as corny or contrived, and it makes it even harder to watch groups that you personally saw every week on TV, in comparison to “What’s love got to do with it” and “Ray” where many of us weren’t alive during the artist’s prime. This was surely the case when we saw the Aaliyah film (shoutout to the memes), Notorious, and even the TLC film, which I felt was solid.

In today’s post, I’ll discuss a bit of everything…my thoughts on the film, the main complaints and controversies I’ve heard, and N.W.A’s legacy to follow the film.

What I loved about it

-The cinematography was ridiculous. The cut scenes where dudes rode their motorcycles and lowriders, the scene following Tyree’s death, when Dre turned the corner and walked in the middle of the group, and the transition between the Lench Mob vs. Ruthless fight into the Rodney King beating were perfect.

-The lead actors did a stellar job, without question. Jason Mitchell really did feel like Eazy throughout the movie, and I even think he should receive nominations for it. Oshea Jackson Jr. made me forget I wasn’t actually watching Cube at times, although his slight suburban accent still showed at some points. Corey Hawkins sounded exactly like Dre.

Each time Eazy would go into business mode, it connected. I loved the part when the protestors stomped on their records, and he essentially says “They can do whatever they want to with them….they paid for them!” His last days in the hospital were extremely believable as well…the crowd was dead silent both times I saw it, as we were all caught in the moment.

-The studio and live performance parts were dynamic, and the energy seemed to spread throughout the audience every time they started rapping one of their classics. They could have played the entire “Boyz n da hood” song, and the audience would have rapped along word for word. The scene in Detroit was on point, and seeing Cube say “What’s up???” to Dre, as Jerry Heller nervously hoped they wouldn’t perform the song that earned them free advertisement from the FBI, was extremely well done.

-This felt like a completely authentic L.A. movie. The school bus scene was literally perfect…every single Black male who was born in L.A. has stories about being “banged on,” in which we fear for our lives as it happens, but usually leave unharmed, and actually laugh about it when re-telling the story. Even the random goons in the movie felt like the ones we really see in the hood, and not just paid actors.

-The police brutality scenes seemed to strike a cord for all of us who have dealt with it in some form.

-The DJ scene where young Dre (scratched by Jazzy Jeff) gets off on that early 80’s Electro track “Al-Naafiysh” was fire! I’m a DJ nerd, so I’ll probably rewind this part 50 times once it comes out on Blu Ray.

-The “No Vaseline” scene…man. The reactions from the group, and the way Jerry Heller was ONLY concerned about the supposed “Anti-Semitism” were excellent.

-The L.A. Riots scene was compelling. The slow motion effects, Cube making eye contact with the police officer, seeing the peaceful protesters in the same scene as the violent looters, and the red + blue bandana tied together were all powerful.

What was left out?

I truly understand that it’s impossible to place every single thing within a two and a half hour movie, so I’m not as mad as others about the things that were left out. If they included all of the things I’ve heard, the movie would be more like a 5 part series. The way I see it, the movie is great at covering the main points, and for those who would like to dig deeper, there’s plenty of history that can be found online and in magazines from that period. Also, the director’s cut is three and a half hours long, and I am hoping it is released on DVD.

Here’s a list of things I’ve heard mentioned that were left out:

-JJ Fad and their song “Supersonic” which was one of Ruthless’ first hit records, weren’t mentioned at all.

-Arabian Prince, an original member of N.W.A, wasn’t mentioned at all.

-Michel’le was mentioned, but wasn’t depicted at all. This has probably been the biggest complaint that I’ve heard, and this is one of the few that I think should have been in there for sure. She was a factor in the N.W.A/Ruthless era, as well as with Death Row.

-MC Ren’s contributions weren’t shown in depth, and D.O.C. seemed to just be the homie who was around, versus the highly successful solo artist and contributor that he was at the time.

-Dogg Pound/Death Row vs Ruthless beyond Eazy and Suge…in particular, “Dre day” vs “Real Mothaph’kkin  G’z” which was a major beef at the time. They show the fight between Ruthless and Lench Mob, but make no mention of the fight between Dogg Pound and Dresta/BG Knoccout that happened on the golf course (When Nate Dogg regulated for real): 

-I didn’t realize Chuck D was depicted in the movie until seeing it for a second time, but they don’t speak much on how Ice Cube connected with the Bomb Squad in NY.  

-As a whole, Dre and Cube were shown in the most positive light, while Suge’s character was one –dimensional and showed a seemingly overnight transition into the meme-worthy villain that he’s known as. Jerry Heller’s character showed decent balance, and left you with the impression that he cared for the group as human beings, but that his money was always more important than anything else. I guess he was right about Cube being Anti-Semitic (I’m being sarcastic).

-All of Dre’s domestic violence and assaults against women were left out, and I will speak about this next.

Dr. Dre vs. Dee Barnes (and other women)

In 6th grade, I recall being in an American History class that covered everything from Columbus’ claiming territory that wasn’t his, up to the Reagan era. When we got to the Civil War section, they only mention slavery in one paragraph. Not only did it not mention that slaves were forced on a boat from Africa, but it said something about how most slaves were treated with respect because it made them more productive.

I got home, and was furious. I told my dad, and expected him to call the Principal, or confront my teacher. He sat calmly, and said “well….who do you think wrote the book?”

Seeing this movie, and realizing that everything negative that Dre did to women was omitted, I was reminded of what happened in class that day. Being that Dre and Cube were behind the movie, it gave them a chance to sanitize their history as a group, and as individuals, and many folks think this taints the movie. I feel that Dre was shown as being the extremely focused, hard-working creative that didn’t care as much about groupies or even money…yet, there’s folks who will say that he was by far the most violent, abusive person in that circle when it came to relationships with women. 

This discussion has been extremely divisive in the last few weeks. There have been some women who feel that Black women should boycott the movie due to the omission, and others who have spread numerous articles on Dre’s history. On the other side, many folks feel that this happened so long ago, that it shouldn’t affect his current status, and they point out that he did go to trial and settle with Dee Barnes back when it happened.

The 2Pac scene

One of the most obvious anachronisms was regarding Eazy-E wearing the Sox hat before it came out, but the one that bothered most of us was the timeline after 1993, especially concerning 2Pac and Death Row.

The years don’t show at the bottom of the screen after 1993, but a lot of things were out of order, leading up to Eazy’s death in March of 1995. The main thing that confused us was 2Pac’s studio scene, which followed immediately after showing Eazy-E passing Tower Records and seeing The Chronic billboard, which was in 1993. 2Pac wasn’t released in prison until after Eazy-E passed away, and he actually got married a month after Eazy’s death while he was still in jail. Along with that, Hail Mary may have been recorded during the sessions of “All eyez on me,” but most of us figure that it was recorded afterwards, most likely in Spring/Summer 1996.

Along with “Hail Mary” being recorded, it’s said that Dre was going to feature Ice Cube on “California Love” and use it as his own first single, but Suge made a change and put 2Pac on it instead. In hindsight, this was a brilliant move by Suge.

Compton: The Album (and semi-soundtrack)

Dr. Dre, D’Angelo, and Jodeci actually released real albums this year! I’m still in shock. With this album, it served as somewhat of a soundtrack to the film, which was more than most of us expected when we first heard that it was coming out. I would personally say it’s a 7.5/10 album…I certainly wasn’t expecting a classic, but was hoping for more standout songs. However, the album is worth it solely for “Animals,” in which the #1 and #2 Rap producers in history finally linked up on a track, and made a potentially classic song. I think they should create an intense video that captures the essence of the “Black Lives Matter” movement, showing everything from Mike Brown, to Sandra Bland, to Trayvon, to Rodney King and Latasha Harlins.

The film’s legacy

This movie is going to have a major long term impact, especially with the younger generation that was probably born after N.W.A’s debut album came out. I have already seen a lot of folks in L.A. dressing like they were from this era, but I think the songs will actually become big with kids who never listened to any Rap that came before the 90’s or even 2000’s. Seeing a Batman remake of the song “Straight outta Compton” itself, along with this Kids Pop video shown below, is proof that the movie has truly crossed generations and cultures: 

This movie comes out at the most perfect time in my opinion, as L.A. Rap is finally back into the forefront after suffering a commercial drought for most of the previous decade. This movie shows the origins of the strongest family tree in Hip Hop, which includes artists such as Snoop, Will.I.Am and Fergie, Kendrick Lamar, 50 Cent, Eminem, and Bone Thugs, who all came through the N.W.A tree in some sort of way. I hope this film will lead to more high budget, polished Rap Biopics that show other legendary rap families, such as Native Tongues, Def Jam, Wu-Tang, and No Limit/Cash Money.

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10.24.15

tricks your poltergeist plays on you…

Aries
:
hides your car keys
Taurus: marks all of your emails as unread
Gemini: moves your glasses while you’re sleeping
Cancer: opens your blinds while you’re changing
Leo: steals your tampons
Virgo: switches your medication
Libra: turns your shower on randomly and starts rapping eminem 
Scorpio: skips tracks on your playlist
Sagittarius: dings the end key on the piano repeatedly while you’re practicing
Capricorn: takes money out of your wallet
Aquarius: sticks gum on the bottom of your shoes
Pisces: whispers “you can checkout anytime you like, but you can never leave!” in your ear before bed EVERY NIGHT