A brief-ish History of Rap: A review of Straight Outta Compton

Straight Outta Compton (2015)

Straight Outta Compton (2015)

I admit to knowing virtually nothing about this subject, I recognise the names of Dr. Dre and Ice Cube, but beyond that, I have no clue about the lives of this famous group. Yet I’ve heard across the grapevine (The Internet) that this film is doing really well in America, popular with both critics and the public. It’s a biopic that tells the story of how NWA became famous and how the careers of the members changed afterwards.

First of all, even though I didn’t get half of the references in this film, as in the things that the real people did, I think that films should live and breathe by themselves, which in many ways it does. It’s an interesting film that has lots of life and power in its message, it’s relevant for today and will likely provide a talking point for a while to come.

It does, however, have its flaws. The female roles are poor, if they’re not provided as sex objects to the men of the film, they play characterless wives or mothers. This is a film about specific men, but it didn’t have to sexualize nearly every female on-screen.

Outside of that, the film is successful, its cinematography is warm and nostalgic for the early nineties and colourful in its depiction of Los Angeles. The music is mostly composed of the rap songs that made the NWA famous which wasn’t particularly to my taste, but they were used in interesting ways, cutting between different scenes as the tracks played over.

The performances are all really great, with some of the actors looking very much look like the real person they are portraying, especially O’Shea Jackson Jr. as a young Ice Cube. It’s directed with a neat visual flair, and written with a love of the music.

It’s a film that potentially has a lot of things to say, it has many scenes in which cops mistreat the black characters for no reason other than racism, reflective of recent events in America, this film could have been the big eye opener that people needed. Yet the film doesn’t touch on it much, nor does it get into the grit and reveal the true darker undercurrents of the story. The main characters are treated as good guys, first and foremost, so the film is guilty of applying movie gloss over real life events.

All in all the film has floors, it’s a little too movie friendly, it treats women badly and it ignores any bad things that the real life people may have done. It’s also too long. Yet, it does have a good cinematic sheen, and has some interesting scenes, especially at the beginning, but really I think it’s one for the fans.

Rating: B-  6/10


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