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Straight Outta Compton Review

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Straight Outta Compton is a biopic of sorts of the birth of the famed N.W.A. music group, the emergence of the rap market in the 1980's and the influence that the music held over youth of that generation. It is also thrilling, bold and a brutally honest reflection of a dangerous era in one of the most dangerous neighbourhoods in the world; Compton, Los Angeles.

Charting the emergence of gangster rap could only really be explained through the eyes of the guys who kicked it all off, and that's exactly what director F. Gary Gray has done in collaboration with Ice Cube and Dr. Dre. The story is seen from the point of view of young men who are disillusioned with society and constant harassment at the hands of the police. Rather than suffer in silence anymore, they find their voice through rap and in turn they brought unheard of success to the genre.


Eric Wright (Eazy-E), O' Shea Jackson (Ice Cube) and Andre Young (Dr. Dre) are three guys who grew up on streets surrounded by drug dealers and for whom violence was a way of life. Rather than succumb entirely to the temptations of a life of crime, they decided to commit themselves to changing their circumstances through music and in doing so they gave voice to an entire generation of young black men who clashed with police on a daily basis.

With huge input from Dr. Dre and Ice Cube, the film gives us an insight not only into what drove these guys so hard, but also the reasoning and spirit behind controversial songs like Fuck Tha Police. The acting from the leads is fantastic, with Ice Cube's own son, O' Shea Jackson Jnr, playing the role of his dad, and doing his story justice.

The film makes good use of its mix of more traditional camera work with some handheld footage to lend a sense of urgency to proceedings, particularly during the scenes that depict the violence that engulfed L.A. at the time. Despite the almost two and a half hour running time, it feels frenetic and fast-paced for the most part.


As well as the rise of the group, the films depicts the group's swift dissolution, and places the blame squarely on one individual. But, like the music of the group, there's clearly more going on than what we see on the surface, and nothing is as straightforward as it appears at first glance. What we like or dislike about certain characters early on, begins to become muddied when everything starts to fall apart and loyalties are clearer to see.

Straight Outta Compton is an underdog story at heart, a tale of a group of friends struggling to break free of the restrictions placed on them by society and by virtue of where they came from. Their story is enthralling, dramatic and dangerously thrilling, all of which is reflected in the music they created and the influence they still hold in the rap game. Factor in the current climate in the U.S. and the movie makes for compulsive, incendiary viewing.




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The Movie Bit: Straight Outta Compton Review
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