“Fu@k the police, they have the authority to kill a minority!”
These are the notorious lyrics of N.W.A’s most memorable song and are subsequently included in the new film biographical film ‘Straight Outta Compton’.
N.W.A. were a successful Rap/ Hip Hop group who enjoyed world fame from – 1986 -1991. Seen at the time as an outspoken, political and controversial sound that, it was alleged, would incite riots, these men told the world exactly how life was in the city of Compton, California and didn’t sugar-coat it.
Straight Outta Compton begins in 1986 with “Eazy-E” (played by Jason Mitchell) in a crack house. A war of words begins about who’s hustling who before the police show up and take off the front door with a battering ram then proceed to tear the house down. As the drug dealers and their unscrupulous sidekicks scramble to dispose of all the merchandise before their imminent arrest, ‘Eazy’ makes his exhilarating escape and sets the pace of the film –fast.
The powerful theme felt throughout the film was the present day underlying issues of police injustice, harassment and stereotyping and the all too prevalent racial profiling.
The part in the film that brought this to light was when the police interrupt a recording session and harass the rappers, aggressively forcing their hands behind their backs, ordering them to the floor and calling them gang bangers.
This scene and many others like it beg the question, ‘Has anything with the police and black civil rights even changed, one iota?’ From Rodney King to Treyvon Martin, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Yvette Smith, seven year-old Aiyana Jones , Spencer Lee McCain and now most recently the viral case of Sandra Bland, most of their (usually white, in a position of authority) killers still roam the earth, free as a bird with no consequence to their vile and murderous action.
This film propelled me back into a time where we assumed that all those injustices would be put right as black was black and white was white and there were no grey areas. If you broke the law no matter who you might be, you would feel the strong hand of the law and face your punishment head on, how wrong we were!
In the film N.W.A. receive a threatening letter from the FBI telling them not to play Fuck the Police as it is inflammatory. Eazy-E saw a great opportunity to capitalise on more media coverage and it was a great PR stunt and it would have been great to see how this actually played out. The FBI letter propelled them with the golden ticket to a lucrative youth market which then saw N.W.A sell over three million copies of their first album.
The FBI and the federal government tried and failed to stave off a revolution as the growing popularity of N.W.A. was self evident. That was how powerful and indeed how big of a threat they were, it makes you wonderf how society would be today if they were still together, more powerful than any march that’s for sure…
Factual although brief, the story gave film goers a glimpse into the lives of Ice Cube, Dr Dre, Eazy E, Mc Ren, Arabian Prince, DJ Yella and The D.O.C and allowed us to witness the marvel of political music and how it moved a nation. Now let’s be real, how many Rap artists can say they were invited to the White House by a white President (Bush) albeit accidentally!
Gritty, iconic and real, the gripping storyline was supported by a cast whom to a large degree looked like the actual artists and not just O’Shea Jackson Jr who played his father Ice Cube in what has turned out to be a stroke of genius.
The cameos from Tupac, Snoop Dogg and Suge Knight were truly believable for once as the producers/ directors tried their hardest to cast lookalikes to help with the authenticity.
My only criticism would be the film was too short and we should have been given more time to bond with the characters and their individual background stories.
It is all too apparent that these kinds of groups inevitably split due to a rift caused by money or fame before they realise that sticking together as a tight unit, overcoming all obstacles and having each others’ backs is way more important.
Straight Outta Compton – *****
I’m off to see it again as it’s taken decades for this story to be told and it needs to be etched into my brain.
Ice Cube, take the motherfucking stand
Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth
and nothing but the truth so help your black ass?
[Ice Cube as Witness]
You god damn right!