Like it or not, my formative music appreciation years took place in the 90’s. This means that my tastes were shaped by New Kids On The Block, late 80’s Rock n’ Roll, Gangster Rap and Grunge. In fact, my first “Parental Advisory” album was “G Funk Era” by Warren G. Like every suburban kid of my generation, I started off liking what was popular, what I heard on the radio and what my friends listened to. That is until I had my own preferences and became a music snob. I’m not sure which is better in that scenario. All that to say, though I didn’t own their albums, I was well aware of what was going on with NWA, Dr. Dre and Ice Cube in the 90’s. Well, maybe “well aware” is overselling it, I knew the headlines.
So, a few months back when I saw a trailer for Straight Outta Compton, I was intrigued. Though Biopics are an overdone, and not always great, genre by now, I decided to give it a chance. I’m glad I did. Though filled with more language, grit and skin than your average biographical movie, the relevance of Straight Outta Compton to today’s current headlines was not lost on me. Filled with scenes depicting police violence and corruption, viewers are reminded that though time has passed, our society has not changed as much as we’d like to imagine. The narrative structure of this film is well done, engaging, heartbreaking and filled with nostalgia. Full of moments where the entire theater sang along to their favorite tracks. The highlights of Compton, for me, were found in contextualizing the creation of well known NWA, Dre and Ice Cube songs as well as tracks by artists like Snoop Dogg and Tupac. If it succeeded at nothing else, Straight Outta Compton shows the artistry and passion found in hip hop better than anything I’ve ever seen. Though, it should be noted, many have criticized Compton for painting the films producers Dr. Dre and Ice Cube as good guys and ignoring much of their troubled history. Do with that what you will.
The acting, storytelling and directing in Straight Outta Compton made this one of the most engaging biopics I’ve ever seen.
Though, I can’t fault a rags-to-riches tale about five guys from Compton showing how things truly happened, I can at the very least not recommend it due to it’s strong language, nudity, violence and drug use.
What did you think of Straight Outta Compton? Did you see it? Let us know in the comments below!