It is hard to think of a time during which hip-hop was not a massive part of mainstream music. In the late 80s, however, the genre of music was nowhere to be found.
In fact, rap music was heavily stigmatized as a celebration of violence, misogyny, and anti-establishment. That all changed when a few young men changed music forever.
The rise of hip-hop can be credited by none other than the Compton rap group N.W.A. F. Gary Gray dramatizes the rise and fall of one of the most influential rap groups of all time with Straight Outta Compton.
The film tells the origin story of the group, focusing heavily on revolutionaries Eazy-E, Ice Cube, and Dr. Dre. For those unfamiliar with the story, the film provides a raw, in-depth glimpse at the struggle and rise of some of the greatest rappers in history. The film takes each of the Compton men throughout the early years of their careers, remaining compelling for the lengthy 146 minute runtime.
The heart-thumping film comes at a time pivotal to American history.
With police brutality seeing a horrific surge in the media, Straight Outta Compton shows that the issue is nothing new, nor is it a problem solved. At the start of the film, it becomes clear that the group N.W.A witnesses racism every day within their communities. Police assault young men, including the group, for no reason other than to exert their power. This is a disgraceful truth necessary to include in the film. It further justifies the indignation written and voiced in the lyrics of N.W.A.’s songs.
The most impressive aspect of the film is how organic and realistic it felt. Filmed on location, the film showed parts of Compton previously unseen by the mainstream.
The performances are nuanced and effective. Most notable is Jason Mitchell’s portrayal of Eazy-E. Throughout the film, Mitchell constantly steals the show. He effortlessly portrays Eazy-E’s inherent courage and genuine “goodness”. He truly captures the star’s ability to captivate his audience and the attention of those around him.
The performances of the entire cast are impressive. What was most interesting is that the real-life men the actors portray possess a keen view of societal injustice. They utilize their ability to write rhymes to capture the feelings of a heavily marginalized group in America.
The story itself feels bigger than just the retelling of N.W.A’s career.
More, it is a film about the inherent racism within the music industry as well as within the bigger scope of modern America. These rappers were the first of their kind. The “reality rap” became one of the most popular genres of music, and the rappers influenced many of the “greats” (2Pac, Snoop Dogg, and Eminem).
With Gray’s focused and raw direction, Straight Outta Compton tells the amazing story of the rap group. It shows the ins and outs of the music industry and applies the concepts of police brutality and corrupt business practices within the music industry. An important and absolutely phenomenal story, Straight Outta Comptonsuccessfully tells one of the greatest stories of modern music.