The film Straight Outta Compton documents the less than humble beginnings for the revolutionary rap group N.W.A. that hit the scene in the late eighties. We get some good background on the key members of N.W.A. and how their lives reflected the songs they wrote. We follow the band on their road to success, as well as their subsequent fall from fame.
The first half hour of the film really sets the tone well for how Compton was in 1986. The increasing tension between black youths and law enforcement is depicted in a unforgiving, confrontational way. I overall enjoyed the way the filmmakers tackled race issues and police brutality, even though they didn’t really say much on it.
I’ve read that a lot of the events depicted in Straight Outta Compton actually happened, which is pretty amazing. Some of the stuff that happens to the group is messed up and kind of astonishing. Events revolving around contract disputes, gang violence, and police violence. Now, this is all written from the perspective of Dr. Dre and Ice Cube, so you have to take some of the portrayals with a grain of salt. I am sure there are some individuals misportrayed or omitted by choice, which is probably the biggest downfall to this film.
For example, the depiction of N.W.A.’s manager Jerry Heller (played by Paul Giamatti) is obviously very stereotypically portrayed. He’s seen as this over exaggerated bad guy strictly because Ice Cube and Dr. Dre felt they were ripped off by him. At times this gets a little overbearing and irritating, as the film goes out of its way to show us that Jerry Heller is a complete piece of trash.
The soundtrack to Straight Outta Compton is fantastic, mostly because it’s composed of songs from N.W.A.’s own Straight Outta Compton album. The songs are classic eighties gangsta rap tunes with awesome beats and contentious lyrics. If you’re a fan of rap music then you will probably enjoy the soundtrack to this film quite a lot.
Straight Outta Compton is an entertaining biopic about a very influential and controversial rap group. It deals with some pretty relevant issues while entertaining the audience with a good story and great music. So if you like rap music or the group N.W.A., I’d give Straight Outta Compton a watch. If rap isn’t your cup of tea (or if you get annoyed by anti-law enforcement imagery) then you might want to give this film a pass.
The Verdict: B+