If you’ve been waiting for a good biopic “epic” to pop up, you can put Gandhi back on the shelves, because, rest assured, Straight Outta Compton will do the trick.
The film chronicles the careers of the members of rap group N.W.A. Known for songs such as “Straight Outta Compton” and “F*** the Police”, they were the voice of the people living in the inner-city and popularized the genre of gangsta rap. Love them or hate them, they played a pivotal role in censorship and free speech in music.
In case you didn’t realize, N.W.A. is one of the most significant and influential hip-hop acts of all time. They helped bring to light a lot of issues going on in the inner-city with a frustrated outlook rather than a stereotypical one. Before N.W.A. most people sorta kinda knew about the hood. They knew to stay away and that it wasn’t safe, but that’s about as far as it went. These guys shoved their issues in society’s face and told them, “Look, these problems are just as significant to us as yours are to you.” People were afraid and didn’t know how to handle their blunt honesty.
Fast forward nearly 30 years and these sentiments are becoming real for the general public again. With media attention towards a high volume of immensely disturbing videos, this past year has garnered its own frustrations. But the one thing that this film does exceptionally well is not exploiting this. It touches upon those issues, but it doesn’t obsess over them. It stays focussed and sees the bigger picture.
What I found most powerful about this film is the depiction of the rise and fall of the rap legend, Eric “Eazy-E” Wright–one of the group’s core members. It romanticizes his relationship with the rest of the group and his relationship with life in general–giving us a brilliant character arc while remaining unbiased.
While it may put some of its characters on a pedestal, the events that ARE shown are done so as honest as possible, considering that 2 of the people portrayed in the film are executive producers. There is some controversy revolving certain events that should have been showed, but I think they chose against releasing a 6 hour film for a reason.
In the end, what we get is a well-written biopic that offends as little people as possible, considering the subject matter, and it reminds us of how far our nation has come, even during times when we feel like it hasn’t.