Mean streets inspire
young in urban America at that time, every day was a fight unto itself. ( Check the headlines in 2015. Has anything changed?)
No wonder the spectacular ascent to ( it must be said, a short- lived) mass popularity by NWA frightened the rich, white and old establishment of the time.
While the group soon fell apart due to the usual creative, financial and personal indulgence issues, the meteoric rise and ferocious rampage of NWA in their prime fully deserves the big- screen treatment.
Therefore as a movie, Straight Outta Compton wields its maximum impact in a gripping first half – where the group rapidly get their abrasive act together, then rush headlong at an unsuspecting world.
The core of the original NWA line- up is quite rightly the principal focus here. There is Eazy- E ( Jason Mitchell), slightly older and ( street) wiser than the others. It is the proceeds from his halcyon days as a drug dealer in their neighbourhood that gets the group into a studio in the first place.
As for Ice Cube ( played here by his own son, O’Shea Jackson Jr), spawning lyrics that provoked both moral outrage and deep thought were his strong suit.
Cube’s charge that US law enforcement officers wielded “the authority to kill a minority” ( on NWA’s most notorious and important track F*** tha Police) stands as one of the most inflammatory lines ever recorded to tape. Also looming large is Dr. Dre ( Corey Hawkins), a selfschooled genius with a turntable and recording deck whose soundscapes revolutionised contemporary music for better and for worse. By the time Straight Outta Compton reaches the point where NWA must inevitably self- destruct, there is still over an hour of running time left to go in what becomes an epic, slogging saga.
Not even the introduction of the still- fearsome standover impresario Suge Knight ( R. Marcos Taylor) as a late- breaking villain can turn the movie around.
However, few will take Straight Outta Compton to task for tapering off quite a memorable peak achieved well before the closing credits.