Straight Outta Compton Relives Iconic Rap Group

3.5 Stars


Straight Outta Compton grossed over $60 million on opening weekend.

Brian Li

Just over 20 years after the rap group’s demise, N.W.A. emerged once again with the

release of the biopic Straight Outta Compton, directed by Felix Gary Gary. The movie chronicles

the ups and downs of the pioneers of gangsta rap, and also frequently touches on the numerous

racial injustices that were present at the time.

The story starts out in Compton, California, which has long been considered as the

hotbed of gang violence. Andre Romelle “Dr. Dre” Young (played by Corey Hawkins) and

O’Shea “Ice Cube” Jackson (played by O’Shea Jackson Jr.) are just like the majority of

teenagers in Compton, hoping to find a way to make it big and leave the city to live a more

comfortable and stable life.

The two attempt to do this by committing their lives to rap music. They soon recruit

Lorenzo “MC Ren” Patterson (played by Aldis Hodge) and Antoine “DJ Yella” Carraby (played

by Neil Brown, Jr.) to join their newly formed rap group, N.W.A. With the financial support of

drug dealer Eric Lynn “Eazy-E” Wright (played by Jason Mitchell), the group is able to start up

their own record label, Ruthless Records, and begin their quest for fame and fortune.

Soon after, one of the most iconic scenes in the movie takes place. Eazy-E was an

unskilled rapper and had only helped the group financially up to that point. However, the group

encourages him to give a shot at rapping in that perhaps Eazy-E was the missing piece to the

group’s success. After multiple unsuccessful attempts, Eazy-E manages to impress the group,

rapping the line “Cruisin’ down the street in my ’64” with both pungence and expression. N.W.A.

then releases the song, titled “Boyz-n-the-hood”, which gains widespread popularity.

Soon the group is joined by manager Jerry Heller, who promises that he can take the

group to the next level. A few years later, the group released their debut studio album, titled

Straight Outta Compton. It was wildly successful, with over 3 million copies sold. The album

contained violent lyrics that portrayed the difficult lives the people of Compton had to endure,

and would influence countless other rappers to rap about the harsh reality of growing up around

gang violence.

N.W.A. then went on a tour throughout the country, further increasing their fanbase,

earning Ruthless Records more and more profit. However, the group soon began to dissolve

with the managing of Jerry Heller. Heller took advantage of the fact that the group was only

focused on music and not at all on the business aspects. He arranged unfair contracts and gave

much of the money to Eazy-E, still the boss of Ruthless Records, and himself, while the others

received less for doing the same amount of work.

Ice Cube was the first to notice this flaw and broke away from the group. Dr. Dre would

follow suit a few years later and the group fell apart.

The movie showcased numerous instances of police brutality and other violations of

rights that the group had to endure. This included a scene where Ice Cube incidentally passed

by a spot where an arrest was taking place on his way home, and was suddenly grabbed off the

sidewalk and arrested. Another scene that depicted police brutality was when the group decided

to take a break from the studio and go outside for a while, but were all arrested by police just

because they looked suspicious. They are all forced to the ground and are not released until

Jerry Heller explains the situation.

The climax of the movie also centers on what seems to be an infringment to the freedom

of speech. The FBI had launched an investigation on the group in that their album was

considered to be promoting violence and defacing police. They were told to not perform their

song “F*** tha Police” but they did so anyways in Detroit and were soon detained afterwards.

One knock on the movie is that it seemed that the majority of the movie was centered on

the time when N.W.A. was successful. Very little of the movie actually portrayed the hardships

each of the members faced in Compton, which may cause the title to be a little misleading for

However, overall, Straight Outta Compton was able to accurately depict the tale of

N.W.A. and spiced up the problems the group encountered in the music industry to make a

number of scenes very suspenseful. The film was able to inform me and others of my

generation about a rap group that was before our time, but has greatly influenced many

musicians who are still relevant today.