Straight Outta Compton

As always, I'll be honest.  I didn't think this would be much of a movie, so I put the trip to the theatre on pause.  Sure, there'd be some nice breastage, lots of profanity, and a the possibility of a cinematic circle jerk between the surviving members of NWA bordered the line of more probable than not; while it was pretty much everything I figured it might be, it still managed to be a legit film.  I put the credit on F. Gary Gray, SOC's director.

I admit that aside from F$#@ the Police, I never listened to NWA because I wasn't feeling the shootem up jheri-curl thing.  (NOTE: No offense, but Pop dukes was a firm believer that real men do not have "hair-dos" and they certainly don't use "activator" in it if they did.)


Whoever did this graphic, did my job for me - but poorly...  As usual one of the most critical components to any movie-making process was excluded from the above graphic.  THE WRITERS!!! My favorite part of any decent film is the writing.  So, the forgotten vitals are -

F Gay Gray (Friday, Law Abiding Citizen, Italian Job) - Director
Jonathan Herman (well, from what I can tell, he's a rookie, so...) & Andrea Berloff (World Trade Center) - Writers
**Okay, fine.  I see why they didn't mention the writers filmography, but still... they're important.
Also not included in the graphic are Paul Giamatti as Jerry Heller (pretty pivotal figure in the whole NWA saga), Lisa Renee Pitts as Verna/ Dre's Mom Dukes, and Marlon Yates, Jr. as D.O.C.


Dre (Hawkins) was a a DJ with a love for hip-hop, but a passion for the intricate details musical details that make songs, Cube (Jackson, Jr) was high-schooler and wannabe rapper hopping the school bus back and forth from the hood, and Eazy-E (Mitchell) was a dope dealer of some sort with gang affiliations and some bread, but they were all from or living in Compton in the 80s.  For the youngins reading this (all 10 of ya), the 1980s was a terrible decade: it was the height of two of the greatest plagues in US history - the crack epidemic & the AIDs epidemic, both of which feature in the makings of the groundbreaking group N.W.A.  (If my name was Quentin Tarantino, I'd say the full name 150 times in this review for the sake of "reality" and call it art, but I'm not, so I wont.)  Also, prominently-featured in this film are also other images that I remember vividly from my own youth - police brutality, racial and social inequalities manifesting in judicial injustices (oh wait, that could easily be snatched from the recent news headlines).

Here's the story... Dre, Eazy, Cube, along with MC Ren and DJ Yella combine forces and funds to create NWA.  They are the West Coast's version of irreverence hip-hop (a less activist, more gutter version of PE, some might say... hell, I DO say) and they end up fighting battles against everyone from themselves, to their management, to the Po'lice and even the federal government.  While it should have been hard for any brown person in this country who had a microphone and a voice to not have spoken up in the midst of the Rodney King incident, Eleanor Bumpurs, Yusef Hawkins (the list goes on...), not every rapper, writer, movie star, or singer had the intestinal fortitude to so speak.  If for no other reason than, FTP - I give Ice Cube (the primary writer for most of the music I know from them) and NWA a ton of credit for vocalizing that frustration felt by so many.  (NOTE 2: I have several friends and family in law enforcement, I love them... I hate badge wielding, gun-toting, chumps with a god-complex who justify their violence by pointing at their shield.  See... talking all this NWA and Public Enemy stuff got me tapping into my Huey Newton/Freeman side.)

Back to the flick - it was surprisingly well cast.  Cube's real life son played Cube to near perfection, but one would assume that's an easy task.  The Dre character, I couldn't speak much on aside from the fact that the character establishing scene in the beginning of the film made me feel like that is what Dre's process MUST look like - listen to all kinds of music, surrounded in a sea of rich tones, and air-tickling the keys as you let the soul of the sound wash over you.  I knew I wasn't the only one to do that. (NOTE 3: I prefer a DJ who carries wax LPs to one who mixes MP3s - if  I had to choose; just like I prefer paper books to e-books.)  Aldis Hodge did a pretty convincing Ren, from what I know about him.  But the movie really centered on the degradation of the relationship between Eazy and the rest of NWA and the cause for the splintering of the group.  It only sniffs at the introduction of Tupac, Snoop D O double- G, and the affiliation, then swift dissociation with Suge Knight.  Not essential to the story being told, but some fun stuff that could be a movie of its own.

As Jerry Heller, Giamatti is an appreciably pathetic semi-villain in the best way possible (unfortunately, his voice kills me), Mitchell puts in a performance that makes you reconsider what you thought you knew about the man, and still... when it is all said and done, I still will not buy an album or the soundtrack to the music that is essentially the precursor to all that I hate about today's i'gnant hip-hop (I'm looking at you, Fetty Wap, Bobby Shmurda, and all your cohorts). No, you don't really learn anything from this movie.  Yes, I was right about what I thought would be in this movie (breastage, prolific profanity, and circle-jerk included - can't help but notice the absence of Doc Dre's allegations of domestic abuse). No, the writing was nothing to... well, write home about... hmmm, I can do better than that, but not tonight.  And, yes, it was still a good movie.  I might even watch it again - not pay for it, but if it comes on HBO... I'll give it a look.  It's kicking butt in the theatre, so that's awesome. It's not better than DOPE, but it wasn't too shabby at all.

IMTHATDUDE gives Straight Outta Compton: 4


5 = You should be about halfway to the theatre by now… Well… GET!
4 = Definitely worth the bread. Niiice.
3 = I won’t cuss anybody out and demand my paper back.
2 = Somewhere SOUTH of under-whelmed./I know it has a pulse, but…
1 = Not a good look. They played me AND I played myself.


  1. Maybe it was all of the throwback music but I could have watched another hour of this. Not sure what they would have focused on (the making of 'Are We There Yet?') but I would have stuck around. I didn't see Dope but I would give SOC a 5. Great storytelling, great music, great acting.... ~p

  2. My hangups are centered around the weak areas of the dialogue (for example, the blatant foreshadowing of the label name "Ruthless," or the "Bye, Felicia" moment - which was funny, but contrived). I would have liked to see more of the dark side of the members of NWA, but that was largely avoided (ie, Miche'le's allegations of domestic violence); we only saw the hip-hop-acceptable womanizing and misogyny.


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