The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Movie Review:
Straight Outta Compton

Aug 31, 2015

Straight Outta Compton tells the story of six members of the rap music group N.W.A. It portrays how half a dozen teenagers in a black working class suburb of Los Angeles became internationally known performers.

The movie is timely given the current protests against police brutality around the country. The violence and disrespect the police show all young black men is on full display through much of the movie. This disrespect is shown as part of daily life for the young band members, inspiring their song, “F___ tha Police” which resonated strongly with many young people. The song became a big hit, in spite of the fact that it could not be played on most radio stations. N.W.A’s lyrics were raw and direct -- they portrayed aspects of some of the life that the young men knew. N.W.A started out at a time when much of hip hop music was political, and their music reflected this trend.

But they were also the first group to popularize “gangster rap,” and their music and the genre soon devolved into focusing on violence, drugs and mistreatment and scorn of women.

The record labels saw there was money to be made, and soon signed the group to a record label – under terms that favored the managers and businesspeople at the expense of the young black performers.

The movie shows Ice Cube, one of the N.W.A members, leaving the group once he figures out how bad their deal is. He goes on to a very successful career, first producing very political solo albums and then writing and acting in movies. Ice Cube helped write the movie and his son does a good job playing him in the film.

The movie portrays well the divisions that arose between members of N.W.A due to their manager Jerry Heller’s attempts to play them one against another. It also shows the tragic downfall of Eazy-E (Eric Wright) who rapped on most of the group’s early records.

Though not for the faint of heart, the film is well worth seeing.