Straight Outta Compton


There is a scene where NWA is recording their debut album in Torrance. They go outside for a break and a cop driving by stops and starts harassing all the guys for the way they look and dress since they are considered thugs hanging out in the wrong neighborhood. They are told to get down on the ground with their hands behind their backs before their manager, Jerry, comes out and starts yelling at the cops about what they are doing. This white manager isn’t asked to join the guys on the ground and eventually convinces the cops to let them back inside so they can finish recording. You can feel the frustration and anger from all the guys, mostly from Ice Cube (played by his real life son, O’Shea Jackson Jr.). This leads him to go back inside and pen the lyrics to the song, “Fuck Tha Police.” It’s a really powerful scene and sums up what makes this movie riveting, even though it does clock in at two and a half hours.


The movie follows the group back when they were teenagers in the mid-1980s living in Compton and making the decision to form NWA. There are hilarious scenes where Eazy-E can’t rap and Ice Cube smashing up a record company’s office that actually happened. Another hilarious scene captures Ice Cube pushing a half-naked girl out of their hotel room after her boyfriend comes looking for her and yelling, “Bye Felicia!” Unfortunately, that story is not the origin of that saying, but why not add that in when it is Ice Cube wants to squeeze it in there now due to the resurgence in popularity of the saying that came from his movie, Friday?

Less hilarious scenes, like the Torrance one and the group getting in trouble in Detroit are also based in reality. This came about since Ice Cube and Dr. Dre are producers on this movie. It does show their characters in a favorable light, even when they aren’t on their best behavior. One area that their former music manager, Jerry, says is switched around is he is shown approaching Eazy-E and convincing him to let him be his music manager, when he says Eazy-E approached him. It’s a minor quibble, but even though he did get the group a record deal and national tour, there were issues with money and contracts, and things did not end well with the group and Jerry. I did find it funny that the more annoyed everyone got with Jerry, they would say his name in the most annoyed voice possible.

The movie covers a long period of time and goes through events very quickly. At times, I felt that something was being set up for later on in the movie, but then it is never touched up on again. Apparently, the first cut of the movie was over three and half hours long, so editing out an hour makes some parts feel rushed. I think I could actually watch that extra hour because it was all fascinating.

The strongest parts of the movie was the music, showing the violence in Compton, how the group was harassed by the police when they were recording their album in Torrance, the L.A. riots in the early ’90s, and how so many things in parts of the country have not changed today. Has progressed been made? Not quickly enough.

Grade: B+


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