When Straight Outta Compton was released on August 14, 2015, I picked up my phone, texted my boyfriend, and told him we absolutely had to see the movie. It’s not every day that there is a movie released that covers the makings of N.W.A, one of the most influential rap groups in Hip Hop. Hip Hop is an important part of African American culture, so this movie helps audiences who would not otherwise understand the making and creation of N.W.A and different groups within the genre that created entertainment such as Death Row Records, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Dr. Dre’s Aftermath Entertainment, Ice Cube’s writing of Friday, and his solo career.
These contributions are important because these black people are writing music while talking about something that many, although not all, black people face. N.W.A discusses many struggles that poorer black people face as well as the joys they find in life despite their poverty. Their music also tells honesties that need to be heard with songs such as “Fuck the Police” written by Ice Cube, one of N.W.A’s most well known songs and “Boys N The Hood” performed by Easy-E. The former members of N.W.A, who helped make the film, find it to be an accurate portrayal of their story. With a rating of 90% on Rotten Tomatoes and 8.4/10 on IMDb, the film has obviously been well received by the public.
While the biopic was well done, one of the most impressive, albeit minor, details in the film is its highlighting of sexism within the Hip Hop and Rap industries. There were no positive roles portrayed by women within the film, which is indicative of the roles that women have had for a long time within the industry. Women were seen draped over men in studios or pleasuring men at parties. This is not so much a slight aimed at the film, but a way for viewers to think about the question of “Where are the women in Hip Hop?”
The answer to that question is that while female artists began to contribute to the genre with Queen Latifah, the woman who turned the tables was Missy Elliot. And even then, she did not become popular until the late 90’s and early 2000’s. In this, she paved the way for female rappers such as Nicki Minaj, Iggy Azalea, Lil’ Mama, and M.I.A.. At the time the N.W.A gained popularity, women were not in Hip Hop and Rap unless they were dancers, women at parties, or wives. While this is unfortunate, Straight Outta Compton, in its role as a biographical film, shows reality rather than the ideal situation.
I loved Straight Outta Compton. I thought it was brilliant and that each actor should win an academy award, especially O’shea Jackson Jr. for his performance as Ice Cube and Jason Mitchell for his performance as Easy-E. Besides being good entertainment, this film discusses several problems that plague the United States, such as racism that African Americans suffer in the United States, socio-economic problems in the United States, sexism, police brutality, and silencing of freedom of speech. It is subtle, it is fantastic, and I loved each and every performance. This powerful film is a must see for your summer film list!
Check out the trailer for Straight Outta Compton, which is playing in theaters now: