The following ought to be a simple fact of life: F. Gary Gray deserves flowers, money, teddybears, women, or whatever you can throw at his feet for releasing Straight Outta Compton when he did. At the time he did, so much has been going on. Teens have started looking through their parents CD and vinyl collection for good music now (or they just go to Tyler, the Creator or Dam-Funk) and black people have their resentment for cops (or rather, white people in general) elevated when they started going after a multitude of their children. Not to mention that we still have that battle between rappers who like their stuff super lyrical, and younguns who like rap that is either hard or full of hits. Sometimes, that list is more mixed with young kids wanting better than what mainstream gave them. Within all of that came the resurgence of NWA, a band deemed dangerous for their ability to shake the status quo out of their snow globes using two albums (plus some solo stuff).
Let’s get the appeal of NWA out of the way. It seems like in hip-hop, there has been a HUGE battle between conscious rap lovers and gangsta rap lovers. NWA was one of the few people who could successfully straddle that line, be it the treatment of women, the existence of drug dealers, cops or the end result of living in the streets. Where it seemed like they were holding a gun to your face to kill you, they are more willing to tell you this is what you have to get used to in their world.
When “Straight Outta Compton” holds lines like “a crazy muthafucka named _______”, it didn’t matter whose name came after because if you came from a dangerous neighborhood such as Compton back in those days, you would grow up crazy and violent, too.This kind of truth and bravery flows right through NWA’s song, whether Eazy E strikes on his own, Dr. Dre or Ice Cube (whose Predator album is one to really check out). THe purpose of this album is to basicaly introduce the artist, their influences and the line as to where they both broke up themselves.
On this soundtrack also just happens to be a small share of funk and Jazz that may have influenced their music. From Parliament’s head bopping space-funk track “Flashlight” to Funkadelic’s “Not Just Knee Deep”, the music helps to give you a good idea of NWA’s own musical influences and aesthetic. But it works also as a way to introduce younger people into something besides just hip-hop, proving your parents WERE cool in their time.
If the purpose of this album was to sell NWA at a time where non-whites felt oppressed, the soundtrack did it’s job. After all, this is a time most people are shouting “fuck the police”. The only problem is that the soundtrack is problematic at one thing: you an easily find these tracks on YouTube, if not the whole album; hence, It’s worth mentioning that for these tracks, you COULD just buy Straight Outta Compton (the album) or NIGGAZ4LIFE, the album in which only one song showed up). Outside from that, the other tracks do what the movie was supposed to: tell the history of NWA from their influences to their morals to what happened after NWA was no more. In fact, the soundtrack ended with three diss tracks that led from NWA breaking up to Ice Cube starting his own company to Dr. Dre’s own Deathrow debut single.
There is currently talk of a movie about Deathrow Records. If it’s true, whether or not the movie seems opportunistic, it would still come at a really good time and would be a really worthy idea for a sequel.
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Your 76th favorite black Aspergian musical polymath (Singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, blogger, producer, poet) from Boston.