Saturday, 5 September 2015

Film Review: "Straight Outta Compton" (2015).

The tagline of the film reads "The world's most dangerous times created the world's most dangerous group", this is what it is for Straight Outta Compton. This biographical drama film directed by F. Gary Gray. Set in 1987, five young men, using brutally honest rhymes and hardcore beats, putting their frustration and anger about life in the most dangerous place in America into the most powerful weapon they had: their music. The film tells the true story of how these cultural rebels-armed only with their lyrics, swagger, bravado and raw talent-stood up to the authorities that meant to keep them down and formed the world's most dangerous group, N.W.A. And as they spoke the truth that no one had before and exposed life in the hood, their voice ignited a social revolution that is still reverberating today.

N.W.A, or also known as Niggaz Wit Attitudes, was an American hip hop group from Compton, California. It was one of the earliest and most significant popularizers of the gangsta rap and West Coast hip hop subgenres, and is widely considered one of the seminal groups in the history of hip hop music. Active from 1986 to 1991, the rap group endured controversy owing to their music's explicit lyrics that many viewed as being disrespectful of women, as well as its glorification of drugs and crime. The group was also known for their deep hatred of the police system, which sparked much controversy over the years. The original lineup consisted of Arabian Prince, Dr. Dre, Eazy-E and Ice Cube. DJ Yella and MC Ren joined later, with Arabian Prince eventually leaving. Ice Cube left the group in December 1989 over royalty disputes. Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube and MC Ren would later become platinum-selling solo artists in the 1990s. Their debut album Straight Outta Compton marked the beginning of the new gangsta rap era as the production and social commentary in their lyrics were revolutionary within the genre. The group was subsequently banned from many mainstream American radio stations. In spite of this, the group has sold over 10 million units in the United States alone. Rolling Stone ranked N.W.A number 83 on their list of the "100 Greatest Artists of All Time". In October 2012, N.W.A were nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for the first time.

The film stars O'Shea Jackson, Jr. as Ice Cube, Corey Hawkins as Dr. Dre, Jason Mitchell as Eazy-E, and Paul Giamatti as N.W.A's manager Jerry Heller. The performances were convincing without being too electric and they survived the X-ray truth-telling of the movie camera. In addition, the performances of the five men finds the right note somewhere between brotherhood love and exasperation. Each one of them has winning a screen presence and raw magic to them.

Even though the story is overly familiar, there's enough here for an engaging ride. Already we see that this movie stands aside from routine debut films by rap stars and that it is a faithful reflection of their myth. Straight Outta Compton is a real movie that qualifies as a cinematic event by tapping into the roots of N. W. A. and the fury and feeling that inform their rap and not as a fast-buck package to exploit the fan base of a notorious rap group. Sure the film shows us the rags-to-riches cliches and the group's rise to success. However, the film ends, not with a blast, but with the peace that comes to a group of artists whose journey is just getting started. The film wins by a knockout.

Simon says Straight Outta Compton receives:

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