In the midst of the recent revival of hardcore hip-hop in the forms of Kendrick Lamar, Joey Bada$$ and other musicians, “ Straight Outta Compton” captures the roots of the genre and the impact of the musical group N.W.A. The hip-hop group has played an extremely important role in shaping the hip-hop genre, and music in general. Their influence is widespread within the music industry and has impacted the overall state of entertainment in terms of censorship, and acceptable lyrical content.
The movie is well structured, following the basic three-act format of most movies. It starts off with Eazy E caught up in a drug exchange, which shows the tough and difficult background of this particular character. To escape the reality of their situation, the artists, which include Ice Cube, Eazy E, Dr. Dre, DJ Yella, and MC Ren, come together to form the group N.W.A. This also discusses the misconception of African Americans, and the police harassment that was rampant, as the movie explicitly shows. The group faces adversity from the police, and the record they released clearly conveys the anger and frustration they felt due to their experience with police. After the release of their first record, they gained a lot of recognition from the press and a high number of entertainment venues. This caused some friction among the members, most notably between Ice Cube and the manager Jerry Heller. Ice Cube eventually left the group, followed by Dr. Dre, after he realized that Heller’s management was not in their best interest. Eazy E was dedicated to Heller, but toward the end of his life he realized the corruptness of the industry, and split paths with Heller. The movie concludes with an emotional end to Eazy-E’s life after he lost the battle to AIDS, it also includes the current state of the industry, while noting the various successes that the members of the group have made in their lives.
The movie’s running time is 147 minutes, which is a little over average for most movies. However, the pace is excellent and the movie never slows down, creating the impression that it is shorter. The story does not necessarily present new concepts about the music industry, however, because of its pace and overall completeness, it is engaging throughout and does not hold back from criticism.
“Straight Outta Compton” is willing to express its thoughts on the past and the actions of each individual brings forth another aspect that the movie covered well: representation of the real-life characters. Although people have openly criticized the characterization of Dr. Dre, who has had a past with harassment and abuse, Andre Young has publicly apologized for his actions. Outside of some minor characterization issues, the figures in the movie are represented accurately, most notably, Suge Knight. Knight is an important figure of hip-hop history because of his notorious background. The movie did not hold back when showing his character, a very impressive feat.
The movie has been well-received thus far. IMDb reported that the movie has grossed about $134 million in the U.S. alone. Hot New Hip Hop has also stated that “Straight Outta Compton” has become the highest grossing musical biopic having surpassed the Johnny Cash biopic “Walk the Line”, which earned $119.5 million. It is clear that audiences are interested in the story of these influential figures.
People have also shown an interest in the movie based on its content, entertainment value and overall importance to modern youth culture. “I enjoyed the movie. I thought the story was good and it was cool to see how the N.W.A. came to be”, said Jesse Lopez, a sophomore at SLVHS.
“The movie was really good. It was almost like you were in the movie. The characters were shown in a different light, and you found out stuff that you didn’t know about the real-life figures beforehand”, said Dante Corona, a senior at SLVHS.
It is clear that there is an audience for this type of movie. The story can resonate with anyone who is interested in a compelling true story about the “rags to riches” figures in today’s societies. It inspires, influences, and carries some weight in its narrative. Although audiences look for action-packed, high budget superhero movies nowadays, movies such as “Straight Outta Compton” can gather a fairly large crowd if it hits the right notes and contains interesting aspects that people can connect to it.
The biopic genre can have a controversial association, considering that the movies are “based on a true story”. Some biopics do not clearly address some issues, and do not give accurate information, which have cost some directors and creators of a project. Luckily, “Straight Outta Compton” serves its purpose as a biopic, and entertains the audience while doing so.
By Mairo Kuntze