Get ready for one of the most important biopics in hip hop. Hell, it’s probably the FIRST important biopic in hip hop.
Naming the most influential act in hip hop is impossible. There are simply too many. As is the tradition in the genre, I can namedrop a few: Afrika Bambaata, Grandmaster Flash, Erik B & Rakim, Run D.M.C., The Beastie Boys, KRS One, Bumpy Knuckles, Ice T (with Bodycount), DJ Premier, Nas (with his game-changing Illmatic album), etc.
But you know what has a permanent seat on that list? N.W.A. and its seminal Straight Outta Compton. N.W.A.’s impact as a group has rarely been matched.
Just look at the evidence: Ice Cube’s aggressive style became a major influence on subsequent MCs, the late Eazy-E is rightfully called the godfather of gangster rap and Dr. Dre’s brilliant take on boom bap (though KRS One would name it a few years later) not only helped carve an entire sub-genre, but Dre himself has been behind everything from Snoop Dogg and Tupac to Eminem and 50 Cent. The rise of the notorious Suge Knight of Death Row Records, said to have once held Snoop Dogg out of a window and currently on trial for murder, was closely linked to Dre. Hip hop’s calling card as the voice of the black projects youth may have started in New York, but the Los Angeles ghettos like Compton created the sound that dominated it in the Nineties – and N.W.A. led that charge.
And of course F** The Police, the angry anthem that was later joined by KRS-One’s Sound Of Tha Police (Whoop, Whoop).
About time we have a biopic of those niggaz with attitude, right? Here’s the red band trailer for Straight Outta Compton, complete with an intro featuring Ice Cube and Dr. Dre:
In the film, Cube’s son O’Shea Jackson Jr. plays his father, while Corey Hawkins and Jason Mitchell are Dr. Dre, and Eazy-E respectively. The film follows the late-’80s rise of the group, set against the conservative climate that was freaked out by the vivid portrayal of urban life, and goes at least up to the 1992 riots that were sparked by the beating of Rodney King. This Straight Outta Compton trailer is a full-on red-band edit, with some nudity and the hint of violence, but all the language necessary to represent N.W.A in their prime. F. Gary Gray directs, and Paul Giamatti plays manager Jerry Heller, who helped bring N.W.A to the masses before the heavy attention he gave to Eazy-E soured his relationship with the group.
Until now movies about Hip Hop have been scarce and largely limited to documentaries like Scratch and Beats, Rhymes & Life, the exception being the parody CB4. In these days of Drake and Nicky Minaj many forget the tougher roots of the genre. Straight Outta Compton looks like it is grabbing this bull by both horns and spitting in its eyes. About time.
Last Updated: February 10, 2015