By Aaron Stiles
The rap group NWA, or “Niggaz Wit Attitudes,” released their debut album Straight Outta Compton in 1988, and the world was never the same. Groups like Run-D.M.C. had already gained popularity with the majority of the public, but their music was very mainstream-friendly and more on the funky side.
The world was completely shocked when NWA busted on the scene with their explicit lyrics and extreme subject matter. When you look at the world and the state of music today, the members of NWA are now household names, as well as extremely respected entertainers and producers. If by chance you don’t know who NWA is, the like-titled film will show you what’s up.
The film revolves around the members of NWA—Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, Ice Cube, MC Ren, and DJ Yella—and their rise from the lower class neighborhoods of L.A. to the forefront of mainstream hip-hop with their own style of music, a style Ice Cube has called “reality rap” and that some have called “gangsta rap.”
The film begins with the group’s humble beginnings in L.A. through the rest of their careers. The focus of the film is the challenges they faced as they became more popular in America, running into problems with production, as well as the obstacles they faced when trying to be taken seriously by the music industry and the general American public.
The film greatly touches on what happens when two very different cultures collide, such as the upper and lower classes, and the resistance to change. The underdogs in the film are geniuses who deserve to be at the top, and those who are at the top deserve much less.
This point is driven home when the L.A. riots occur: windows of the rich are smashed in, and the city becomes chaotic but equal.
This film was an absolute triumph, not only because of its true story, but also because of the writing, the directing, and the acting. All of the actors played their parts masterfully, especially Ice Cube’s son, O’Shea Jackson, Jr, who plays his father.
The film is very fast-paced and action-oriented, making for a great ride through the lives and careers of these people who have been adored for decades. One aspect I especially want to praise is the masterful production. Ice Cube and Dr. Dre produced the film and the original record back in 1988. They know exactly what they are doing in creating a great title, great shots, a loud soundtrack, and a fantastic message for the fans that have backed them since NWA’s beginnings.
Not only is this film great fun to watch, but it also has a great message for mainstream audiences today. Music was never once a means to incite violence, but to reflect actual things that were happening to the artists.
Now, those artists are sharing their story again in the beautiful medium of film, to let us know the things we see and feel today are not different from the things they were talking about back when they started
You will not be disappointed by this film.