In the late 1980s, one rap group strived to speak the truth about their reality living in Compton and neighboring South Central, Los Angeles, California; notoriously known as the most dangerous area in the country at that time. They made history as one of the first music groups to grind so harshly against popular culture and basically led the way for the beginning of gangster rap music on the mainstream circuit.
N.W.A. fought against police brutality and racial profiling, while their songs talked about their everyday lives of drug dealing, sex, gangs and guns. The art of rap would never be the same. “Straight Outta Compton” is a non-fiction biopic that follows the beginning of the rap group, with members Eric Wright a.k.a. Easy E, O’ Shea Jackson a.k.a. Ice Cube, Andre Young a.k.a. Dr. Dre, Antoine Carraby a.k.a. DJ Yella, Lorenzo Patterson a.k.a. MC Ren, and Kim Nazel a.k.a. Arabian Prince.
It’s dominated as the number one in the box office three weeks in a row. So far, after only three weeks it has made over $121 million worldwide. N.W.A. debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 charts for the first time ever with “Straight Outta Compton” at number 38 and Easy E’s “Boyz-In-The-Hood” at number 50. “F*** the Police” came in at number 20 on the hot rap and hot R&B/hip-hop streaming charts. Dr. Dre’s album, “The Chronic,” and his first album in 16 years, “Compton,” are getting record high hits, as well.
The movie follows the rapper’s lives before they met and where they were living in Compton. The story depicts the iconic band’s rise to fame and fall. It shows how the band broke up in the early ‘90s and how Dre, Easy and Ice Cube went on to make successful solo albums; Ice Cube’s “AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted,” Dr. Dre’s, “The Chronic,” and Easy E’s, “Eazy-Duz-it.”
A main concept of the movie is the band dealing with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and other police brutality. They were repeatedly harassed and thrown in jail for dressing like gangsters. Once they rose to fame and spoke out about these problems in their rap, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and police forces did not respond well, mostly because of the song “F*** the Police.”
During the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, “gangsta rap” was not considered a genre of music. People did not accept it because of the vulgar language and gang associations. Most of the rap that was made was underground or commercial. N.W.A. made history when they received radio play.
Actors portraying Suge Knight, Tupac and Snoop Dogg made appearances in the movie, as well. Knight is first introduced when he convinces Dre to leave his crooked manager and co-found Death Row Records with him. Tupac made an appearance in the studio recording some tracks, including “California Love,” while Snoop Dog is seen beginning his career. Dre went on to make his own record label, Aftermath, after he reportedly saw Knight do some horrendous things and realized his true nature.
The movie turns emotional at the end when the band talked about getting back together amd suddenly Easy E is diagnosed with HIV, dying within months. The band never got back together without Easy E. “Straight Outta Compton” has been such a success that people are creating rumors and conspiracy theories.
TMZ started a rumor that a sequel is already in the works focusing on the careers of Tupac, Biggie and Snoop Dogg, though this has been proven false. Although, this doesn’t necessarily mean in the future there won’t be a sequel.
“Straight Outta Compton” is now the highest grossing biopic ever made. “Walk the Line,” the Johnny Cash biopic, comes in second at $119 million and “Ray” follows with $75 million. Farther down on the list comes “Notorious” with $36 million and “The Doors” with $34 million.
Anna Ashcraft is editor of The Arts for The Spectator.