In August 2015, moviegoers and music junkies were treated with one of the most iconic films to hit theaters: the new Straight Outta Compton – The story of N.W.A. While biopics are often difficult to pull off, Universal and director Scott Cooper were able to truly conceptualize the rise and fall of one of the first and most notorious hip hop and rap groups of the mid 1980s. While there may be controversy over the film, we cannot help but be amazed by the story and ingenuity that eventually sparked the careers of these great performers, and changed the music industry as we knew it.
The film begins by introducing the five young men using honest rhymes and hardcore beats as a scapegoat to discuss their frustration and anger about living the most dangerous place in the Unites States: Compton, California. The movie continues, taking the audience on a journey of how these talented, raw artists (Ice Cube, Dr. Dre and Eazy-E) began discovering their sounds through innovative, politically fueled lyrics mixed with their rough bravado. As the group began exposing the truth, they were able to ignite a social revolution of the cultural differences and societal pressures young African-Americans were facing each and every day. The eventual fall of N.W.A. occurs when the drama and red tape of the music industry swallowed them, only to bring them back together at Eazy-E’s deathbed.
If you are one of the few who have not seen this film, I highly encourage you to run to the cinemas to see it as soon as possible. As great as the synopsis above was, it does not do the movie justice. When watching the film, you can truly understand the meaning and definition of the music. Music can be defined as a vocal or instrumental sound combined to produce beauty, harmony and the expression of emotion. For Straight Outta Compton, the definition of music was redefined as a response to the political and cultural disparities people were facing on, and off, the streets. It was the mental and emotional lyrics that eventually sparked a new wave of music, the music of hip hop. Throughout the movie, viewers are able to understand the lyrics on a deeper level. They are able to connect with the characters and understand the trials and tribulations they experienced on their road to fame. Most importantly, we are able to experience the history and evolution of hip hop, not as a form of music but as a form of political expression.
What I love about this film is that it gives the younger generation an opportunity to experience the lifestyle and birth of the music of hop hip. Today, many artists talk about their social lifestyles including parties, drinking and women. Not many of them highlight the overall problems that are going on outside of the club scene. What we see all throughout the film is how N.W.A. leveraged all of their defining moments into songs that spoke the truth about America. This type of freedom of speech is rare to find in the hip hop industry today. Having this movie portray this finally gives the millennial generation a chance to see the world with a new perspective, highlighting many of the problems that we are still seeing today. Hopefully, this will spark a change in the music industry to go back to its roots, speak the truth and enact the change we want to see for our future.