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Film Review: Straight Outta Compton

Written by Jeff Bannis
26.08.15

 

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I’ve got to start by saying that Straight Outta Compton is the best rap film I’ve ever seen. Nothing that has gone before comes as close to capturing the stirring attack on body and brain that rap can deliver. That simple fact explains why this story of seminal rap group, NWA, has been the surprise hit of the summer in the US. It’s likely to do the same sort of business in the UK – the film is an undeniable success on many levels.

The depiction of the group’s formation and first successes are conveyed with so much energy and drive it’s difficult to think of a music film of any genre that comes close. The lead characters, Eazy-E, Dr Dre and Ice Cube are so well cast that anyone familiar with the era will know them without any introduction.

Cube, the group’s lead rapper and lyricist ( O’Shea Jackson Jr) Dre (Corey Hawkins), the musician and producer and Eazy E (Jason Mitchell), who provides the x-ingredient hip hop flavour every great rap group needs (nn) are all established in the film’s tight opening minutes. If this is your first contact with NWA you’ll understand exactly why they’re onscreen. If you know the band already, you won’t be distracted by thoughts about the actor living up the character – they’re each faultless.
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Both Cube and Dre have producer credits, which guaranteed access to NWA’s hits. The challenge was always going to be finding a director who could deliver a film strong enough not to be over-shadowed by the music.

Straight Outta Compton has an immensely cinematic approach, lacing striking visuals in even as the drama gets under way. Director F Gary Gray shows his roots as a cameraman, especially early on, when bikers wheelie past in a slow-motion tracking shot which flows effortlessly into normal speed. As gimmicky as that may sound in words, onscreen it is pulled off with real style and panache. It’s a little signpost to tell you that this is a Compton that you want to know more about – and the film delivers.

That hip hop culture was a newer, more vital version of punk rock is no new idea and the film sensibly avoids directly raising the issue. Inevitably however, comparisons will arise; young people with few resources using music as a means to express themselves, to project their views on the world and maybe even make some money? Hmm. The mission of our protagonists, especially Cube, is to put out “reality rap”  or Gangsta rap to its friends – to talk about the real social and economic problems they were facing as black teenagers. Like earning a living amid the low expectations of schools and employers, or escaping the attention of the repressive and aggressive police.

The significance of the group in their time can be encapsulated in two key things – firstly, their name, Niggaz With Attitudes, caused the media conniptions and the public to break a taboo every time they discussed them. And that was often, because the second thing was the track “Fuck Tha Police” which swept the board in the US and the world.

The FBI banned performance of the song on NWA’s first national tour. All over the country, the group were literally read the Riot Act before going onstage. The Detroit climax of this sequence provides the film’s midpoint and it had the audience at the screening itching to jump to their feet and raise a fist. I can’t recall the last time a mainstream film conveyed such a feeling of feelgood rebellion as this.
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If it’s true that American lives have no third act, someone forgot to tell NWA. The notoriety given by the Fuck Tha Police furore leads to recriminations which threaten their success. The group’s subsequent split and the emergence of Cube and Dre as respectively rap’s best lyricist and producer are drawn well, if with some ellipsis. The film would have flopped without Dre’s involvement – he might not have allowed the use of his music or contributed the sparkling new productions which lift it above others. The upshot was – perhaps – the omission of his horrendous attack on Dee Barnes.

This has been the understandable focus of critics of Straight Outta Compton. The macho world of rap still hasn’t totally accorded women the place they deserve in its hierarchy. Like rock sadly, gangsta isn’t chivalrous. It is a necessary debate around the film. Reality rap needs to really be reality. Suge Knight has to be the centre of evil morality for the film’s second half to have a chance of hanging together as a story. And opting for a narrower focus leads also to excluding the fact that Cube has had, since those days, a woman manager.

Ultimately, Straight Outta Compton is the story of NWA – not just Dr Dre’s story of ugly violence and eventual rehabilitation.

A landscape currently dominated by the #Blacklivesmatter movement however, can draw much strength from NWA’s strident response to police violence. Rap was changed forever by the video of Rodney King and the riots that followed his attackers’ escape from justice.

By then wracked by separation, NWA’s focus was on life as experienced by ghetto youth and their contribution demonstrates how little has changed. Their moment in the spotlight could hardly be more relevant today. It shouldn’t fall to those who will go on to enjoy this as full-blooded entertainment to defend every act of the real-life characters. The performances, the story and the unstoppable music are what Straight Outta Compton is all about.

© 2015 Jeff Bannis
www.Kushfilms.com

Straight Outta Compton in cinemas now

Straight Outta Compton Media Compilation – Hits UK Screens 28th Aug 2015

Written by Marlon Palmer
12.08.15

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The buzz is growing and everyone is highly anticipating the soon to be released N.W.A biopic, Straight Outta Compton.

Will it be real to life, tell the story in a truthful and as it happened fashion or will it be the usual Hollywood glossy affair that belies the real full facts and only covers a small fraction of the full story of many a black icon?
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So far the reviews are good and the film does have Ice Cube and Dre Dre themselves as producers of the film. The film also has a first rate director on board F. Gary Gray who knows how to make gritty, hard-hitting urban films from a mainstream perspective and then you also have power-producers like Will Packer who is the man of the moment when it comes to creating black films that sell at the box-office.

All bodes well for the film!

We thought we would give you a little flava of the film and let you make up your own mind.
So here is the raw red-band trailer, a featurette, media clips with producer and orginal NWA member Ice Cube and cast talking about the production of Straight Outta Compton.

Enjoy!

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In the mid-1980s, the streets of Compton, California, were some of the most dangerous in the country. When five young men translated their experiences growing up into brutally honest music that rebelled against abusive authority, they gave an explosive voice to a silenced generation. Following the meteoric rise and fall of N.W.A., Straight Outta Compton tells the astonishing story of how these youngsters revolutionized music and pop culture forever the moment they told the world the truth about life in the hood and ignited a cultural war.

Starring O’Shea Jackson Jr, Corey Hawkins and Jason Mitchell as Ice Cube, Dr. Dre and Eazy-E, Straight Outta Compton is directed by F. Gary Gray (Friday, Set It Off, The Italian Job). The drama is produced by original N.W.A. members Ice Cube and Dr. Dre, who are joined by fellow producers Matt Alvarez and Tomica Woods-Wright. Will Packer serves as executive producer of the film alongside Gray.

Produced by N.W.A members, Ice Cube and Dr.Dre.

 Straight Outta Compton will release in cinemas 28th August.

 

Straight Outta Compton – Red Band Trailer with Introduction from Dr. Dre and Ice Cube
(*Please be aware of scenes of a sexual nature and profanity)

 

Straight Outta Compton – ‘A Look Inside’ featurette:

 

Ice Cube Talks NWA on the Jimmy Kimmel Show

 

Ice Cube & Straight Outta Compton Cast Talk Film, Police Brutality and Favourite NWA songs

 

Straight Outta Compton Facebook: www.facebook.com/StraightOuttaComptonUK

IN UK CINEMAS 28th AUG 2015

Ice Cube And Dr. Dre Open Up About Suge Knight’s Murder Charges

Courtesy of www.huffingtonpost.com
Written by Erin Whitney
22.07.15

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Earlier this year, Universal’s N.W.A. biopic, “Straight Outta Compton,” became involved in a real-life murder case. Now, the film’s producers and original N.W.A. members Ice Cube and Dr. Dre have opened up about what Dre calls a “really tragic incident.”

In January, rap mogul Marion “Suge” Knight was at a burger stand in Los Angeles where a trailer was being shot for “Straight Outta Compton.” The record producer allegedly hit two men — Cle “Bone” Sloan, 51, and Terry Carter, 55 — in his pick-up truck. The incident resulted in the death of Carter. In February, Knight was charged with murder and attempted murder. Dre, one of the co-founders of Death Row Records with Knight, and Ice Cube became personally involved in the murder case when Carter’s wife filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the three.

In a recent cover story for The Hollywood Reporter about “Straight Outta Compton,” Ice Cube revealed that he was on set the day of the incident. “I was there,” he said. “But I was just leaving, so I didn’t know what happened until I was halfway home.” The rapper-actor-producer heard about it over the phone afterwards. Mentioning that the film didn’t have any issues during the production, Ice Cube added, “It’s crazy that this happened during the f–king filming of the commercial.”

Dre chalked up the incident to the dangers of of living in South Central, Los Angeles. “Some people don’t care if you’re making a movie or not,” he told THR. “It’s unfortunate because the movie is so good, so creative, so many talented people involved.”

In July, a judge refused to dismiss Knight’s case after Sloan refused to identify the music exec in court. Knight’s next hearing is on Sept. 17.

In the meantime, N.W.A. fans can look forward to “Straight Outta Compton” hitting theaters later this summer and an upcoming reunion tour across Europe with Eminem. The surviving members of the rap group, excluding Dre, previously reunited on stage for their first live performance together in 26 years in June. It’s unknown whether Dre will join his former members for the new tour.

Check out the “Straight Outta Compton” cover and head to THR for the full feature.

“Straight Outta Compton” opens Aug 27 in the UK