Almost thirty years ago this powerfully pungent, redolent, avant garde musical genre slammed our audio landscape; I found it salacious, inciting, and pejorative; “rap” predicted to fizzle and fade, surprisingly has entrenched and defined a culture so many shunned. “Straight Outta Compton” is a terrific biopic of young, gutsy, talented boys, from Compton, Ca. where youth is ephemeral, strangled by drugs; crime, death, the norm, barometer of life.
“Dr. Dre” aka Andre Young (phenomenal, poignant portrayal by Corey Hawkins), Ice Cube (O’Shea Jackson, Jr. Cube’s son and clone) are the founders of N.W.A. along with Jason Mitchell as “Easy-E” (the brightest and most empathic of the group), Neil Brown,Jr. as “DJ Yella” and Aldis Hodge as “MC Ren’’; peppered with racy, pugnacious, obscene, blasphemous lyrics their story comes alive; there was no softer, gentler way to tell their tale; creativity soars with their instant fame; audiences of all hues flocked and recognized the truth, hardship and reality of where these boys hailed from; encounters with the law (because of their color). Their biographies come to life with their frenetic, magnetic, mesmerizing performances.
The movie lapses when addressing the role of their manger “Jerry Heller” (2015’s ubiquitous star, Paul Giamatti) from visionary to Rasputin, leaving a huge hiatus to overcome; R. Marcus Taylor as maniacal, brutish “Suge Knight” an amoral record label executive; women, are ornaments, appendages of conquering super stars. Their youth and backgrounds denied accountability and mores.
These are flimsy flaws in director F. Gary Gary’s “Straight Outta Compton” a film that plummets preconceived prejudices; enlightens and erases naivety, gifting transparency, respect to a group, that despite the odds, rose from the depths to celestial heights; miraculous, remarkable feat leaving one stunned and awed.