Movie Review: “Straight Outta Compton”

Compton Posterby Lyle Foster, Unite Contributing Writer

Well, I don’t know where to start! I almost want to start with a few exclamations but I am going to try to stay calm.  I had to go see this movie because the Unite audience needs to know about it.  Early reports about security searches and police sitting in theatres had me a bit turned off but it was part of the movie studio strategy to keep everyone safe and sound.

This film about the history of the infamous hip-hop rap group NWA certainly has come out at a time in history when the message and the music may have a wider audience than ever.  And certainly the overwhelming success of the box office receipts for the movie indicate that audiences have embraced it.

Now to be certain I am going to say upfront that the film has strong language and a few party scenes that have the nudity to go with it.  It is not what I want to hear so consider yourself warned but we know that this is the world that these artists operated in.  So maybe you can just read the review and see the movie that way.

I will say this the movie is well done and when I finished watching it and was trying to think of some opening lines for the review this is what came through my brain.  If the streets of Compton could talk, they would tell a story pretty close to this one and if the sidewalks could sing, they would rap!  My point is this the hip hop and the culture that it depicted then and now is better understood in the middle of the social conditions of the time.  Life wasn’t always kind in the streets of Compton and there was a cry that needed to come forth and when it did it was gritty and raw and shocking.  And not surprisingly a generation embraced it.

There is also a prophetic quality to the work of the artists and their message about police brutality and a song that was so strong that it caught the attention of the FBI.  In the backdrop of today’s tense relationships between the African-American community and law enforcement, it almost seems that they were ahead of their time.  But when one understands that this was the world that NWA operated in and what the streets gave them you begin to see that the cry was their music and they were not by themselves.

I have not always been on the front row for hip hop as some of it is too raw for my spirit but I have to say this: “Straight Outta Compton” helped me to see what made them who they are and how NWA, Death Row records and the solo acts came out of all of this.  I actually want to go see it again and see what else I can pull from it as the message was definitely strong.  And most of you know that the craziest thing of it all is that these rappers who were outspoken ”gangstas” in this time period are successful entrepreneurs in many genres today to the tune of millions and yes even billions today.  Yes… Sometimes life has an amazing way of righting the wrongs?  The movie points to the beginning of these very successful careers.

The riots after the filmed beating of Rodney King also occurred during this time period and some of the footage appears in this film and for those of you who were around at this time it certainly brings up that painful period of history and the fiery aftermath.  You almost can see why the street poets had to cry out.

There was a human element to the story that the filmmakers did a good job on bringing out including the fact that they did have family, mothers, siblings and each other.  They did love and they did want something out of life.  This was an important part of the film including one aspect that I won’t spoil for you.

Straight Outta Compton is an important film and it evokes some very powerful themes and images that still are a part of life today.  It is the fastest film to make 100 million at the box office and was the number one movie in its first weekend.  Ten day take is at 111 million dollars and F. Gary Gray has shocked the critics and the pundits with the maddening success of this film and now there is talk about a sequel.  As we know, money beats money! Five young men from the rough streets of Compton,…the side of Los Angeles that many wish was not there and that has been a hotbed of crime and drugs shook the world and this fast paced well made film has told the story.  I will tell you that I danced a few times because it was that good.

And to top it off O’Shea Jackson who played Ice Cube is his real life son and did a phenomenal job.  All of the rapping is for real and the acting is tight and the film is dope!  I want to say so much more but the space is gone. Either go or at least understand what it is about.

Mad props to the filmmaker and the entire cast.

95 out of 100!!!