We finally went to see Straight Outta Compton last week. I say finally because it seems that most people who wanted to see the movie went the first weekend it came out! Overall, I enjoyed the movie.
Here’s the thing…I was born in 1986. The bulk of this movie’s story is in the late 80s and early 90s. Dude…I was a little kid. Like, “Straight Outta Sippy Cups” for the majority of the time NWA was getting established. Therefore, I wasn’t aware of their story until much later. I DEFINITELY wasn’t listening to their music at the time, and MOST definitely didn’t know the ins and outs of their lifestyle or the circumstances that influenced their music. Life in the hood? Police brutality? Rap music, period? Nah, wasn’t on my radar until much later. One of my earliest memories of rap was actually Bone Thugs in Harmony (an elementary school classmate listened to them on his Walkman while we were on a field trip), and by the time Crossroads came out Easy E had already passed. Dude, that was the end of the movie. My earliest connection to NWA checked in at the END of this movie’s story.
All that to say, I was able to enjoy the movie as is. I didn’t really have preconceived notions or memories to compare. I loved the concert scenes! I smiled and bobbed my head along with the crowd as if I was there. I also enjoyed seeing how the group interacted with each other and their loved ones.
Now, just because I was little during the time period doesn’t mean I haven’t read or heard about them since that time. I fully understand that LOTS of less than stellar details were left out of the story. However, what else would you expect? The guys who told the story and had the movie made are highly successful now and want to make sure they’re seen in the best light possible. Why would they include the domestic violence and all the misogynistic lyrics? After all, you can listen to the album and Google all that. No need to mess up a perfectly good movie, right?
Well as usual I waited about a week after the premier to see this movie. That’s really the way I like to see it. That way I can typically see the movie in relative peace and quiet. I didn’t know exactly what to expect, but I enjoyed the movie all the way until the end credits and it left me wanting to see a preview of the sequel. Well at least I think there will be a sequel. I believe I heard they were going to follow this up by starting where they left off towards the end of the movie with 2Pac and Biggie among others I imagine. I know mother Shakur is protective of the 2Pac brand but if they pull it off I will be there. Not on opening night, but there nonetheless!
I would have liked the movie to touch more on what they were doing before the music, but overall the character development quality was pretty good. I guess if you grew up back then you knew all that already and the movie can only be so long. I won’t give the movie away for the few people who haven’t seen it yet. However, there are a few scenes I will mention that are pretty big to the theme and the story of the movie. The first time they went uptown for the studio recording, the discussion about constitutional rights at the pool party, the moment you see Shug with that first cigar, the Death Row Records dogs and dice game, and the attempted NWA reunion.
The discussion at the pool showed the depth and the smarts that the main characters truly had. That scene showed that street smarts extend past dimes and nickels, and that most people are socially conscious about what is happening around them especially if it directly affects them. Most people might write off the scene with Shug and the cigar, but that was a ‘hey, the Shug you know now is here’ moment which made the Death Row Records scene all the more real. It was a great movie that had me digging up old CDs (yes CDs were a real thing not too long ago) that I had from the time, as well as looking back at the music that I grew up with. The nostalgia of high school team bus rides, borrowing batteries, and sharing a Sony Walkman down to the headphones. Like the old folks say, back when the music really spoke to you! Haha