Monday, August 17, 2015
Straight Outta Compton Review
If you don't know about Straight Outta Compton, it's the biopic of the rap/hip-hop group N.W.A, a very influential group when it came to popularizing the rap genre. I recently finished a huge project where I went week by week through the entire history of the Billboard Hot 100 to determine what the top songs of all time were and honestly rap music wasn't really much of a thing at all until these guys stepped on the scene in the late 80's. As a group they didn't actually have any huge Billboard hits outside the rap charts, but their influence was huge and when they broke up in the early 90's, Dr. Dre and Ice Cube had very successful solo careers, especially Dr. Dre as he had several huge Billboard Hot 100 hits. Because of this success, a whole slew of other rappers came on the scene and by the year 2000 rap music had almost completely monopolized the charts along with R&B. There was several years in the 2000's that were dominated by rap. That's died down a bit today, but rap music is still very popular and most pop singers have even felt the need feature a rap artist in their song in order to add a different dimension to their song and make it more popular. So yes, in terms of the history of music as a whole, N.W.A played a huge role. Straight Outta Compton, which is the title of their debut album, chronicles the rise and fall of N.W.A and focuses specifically on Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, and Easy-E.
What I find respectable about N.W.A is how they reacted to this poor treatment. They wrote music about their situation to tell the world the types of things they are going through. There's a point in the movie where a journalist is interviewing Ice Cube and Ice Cube calls himself a journalist as well, he's just being brutally honest to the world about what's happening. Music is a very good medium to express this in and as they do, it sparks a lot of controversy. People are shocked at what they are hearing. Can they really sing and perform this stuff? Police even stop them before concerts and order them not to perform this type of music and threaten to arrest them if they do. The FBI even sends them a letter telling them that their music has sparked a lot of violence towards law enforcement and they need to stop. What do they do? They ignore those threats. They feel they have the freedom of speech to sing whatever they want to and they do so because they want to send a message to the world that they are be treated poorly and it needs to stop. They decide that they are willing to stand up for themselves and deal with whatever consequences they face because of it. This actually makes for a really interesting and really intense story that will stick with you long after you finish.
Overall, though, I was very surprised with this movie. No, I'm not going to go download any music to my Apple Music library from Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Easy-E, or N.W.A as a group. I can say that I appreciate their passion and meaning behind their music and I appreciate that they were able to stand up for themselves despite the circumstances, but the style still isn't pleasing to my ears. That's why you didn't really hear me talk about the soundtrack of the movie. I'm not a huge fan. If you like their music, you're going to love the soundtrack, but I think you already knew that, so what's the point of me saying that? But despite this, I was still able to enjoy this movie and enjoy the strong, relevant message that it gave. No these guys aren't model citizens, but they were able to stand up for themselves and bluntly say how they felt when that wasn't necessarily the most popular thing to do and I think that is respectable. So yes, I will say in conclusion that you don't have to be a fan of rap or hip-hop music to enjoy this movie. If you were on the fence about this, I'd say it's worth a shot. If you are a fan of N.W.A, chances are you've probably already seen it, so I don't really need to give you my recommendation. You might get mad at me because my grade for the movie will be a bit lower than you would've given it, but all things considered I think I'm being quite generous. That grade I speak of is a 7.5/10.