Music. Long a voice of the underspoken and the underrepresented, sometimes your music is the only way to get heard.
From the gritty reality of Compton, CA to the shady business dealings, F. Gary Gray’s Straight Outta Compton explores the origins and rise of the hip hop group NWA.
Set in mid-1980’s Compton, CA and rife with violence, drugs and other innuendos, Eric Wright (Eazy-E, played by Jason Mitchell) looks for a better life. Turning to friend Jerry Heller (brilliantly played by Paul Giamatti), they form a production company, Ruthless Records and the rap group NWA, signing Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Dj Yella and MC Ren. While Eazy-E’s story is central to the origins, the story focuses more on Ice Cube than other members of the infamous group.
The story by S. Leigh Savidge, Alan Wenkus and Andrea Berloff (screenplay by Berloff and Jonathan Herman) pays tremendous respect to what the group and the individuals had to say but it is weighted down by its detail.
As belabored as the story is, cinematographer Matthew Libatique captured the dynamic grittiness of the recreated concert performances as well as life on the streets of LA. Editing by Billy Fox and Michael Tronick is tight. Between street driving and the recreated concerts, stunt work in this movie is top notch. CGI and other effects work was handled deftly.
NWA had something to say when it started out as an underground act. When they were given a shot, the press dismissed them. And yet, their voice is as strong today as it was back in the mid-1980s. The movie may have been overly long, but it pays respect to those voices and reminds us that the meek shall rise Straight Outta Compton.