“You are now about to witness the strength of street knowledge.”
FYI, this ain’t safe for work, kids.
It had to happen. It’s the best time to happen. With the media exposure of police brutality against young Black men in full-throttle starting with the killing of Michael Brown in 2014, it needs to happen. What is this “it” I keep talking about? The biopic of the seminal hip-hop group N.W.A. (Niggaz Wit Attitudes) entitled Straight Outta Compton. Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, MC Ren, DJ Yella and the deceased Eazy E formed this group in Compton, California in the mid-to-late 1980’s. In their music, not only were they reflecting a harsh reality that later received a spotlight in films such as Boyz N The Hood and Menace 2 Society, but they also put Cali hip-hop on the map. In their music, the provided a west coast counterpart to New York City’s then-dominance over the burgeoning genre. The release of their 1988 debut album Straight Outta Compton also included the controversial, incendiary fan-favorite “Fuck tha Police”. For them and others, it was a song protesting police brutality against minorities. For most in later generations, it just became a cool thing to say.
However, regardless of the perception or the roads that each member has traveled, their impact and legacy is undeniable. Emcees such as Eminem, The Game and Kendrick Lamar all have an N.W.A. influence in their music. Hip-hop biopics have been done before with films such as 2002’s 8 Mile and 2009’s Notorious, but the release of this film is appropriate given the events over the past several months that have, for young Black men in particular, induced a climate of fear. The trailer for Straight Outta Compton was shown during the commercials of last night’s Grammy’s ceremony and can be seen below.
Sy L. Shackleford is a jack-of-all-trades columnist for Action A Go Go. A University of Connecticut graduate with a degree in both psychology and communication sciences, he is a walking encyclopedic repository for all things Marvel Comics, movies, hip-hop, et. al. You can follow him on Twitter @shack_house83.
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