The first thing you need to know about Director F. Gary Gray’s Straight Outta Compton is that it’s not an action film about Blacks in a California ghetto. No, it’s a historical docu-drama about talented young men trying to fight their way out of poverty and, in the process, becoming pop-culture superheroes.
It’s the true story of Gangsta Rap artists O’Shea “Ice Cube” Jackson (O’Shea Jackson, Jr.), Andre “Dr. Dre”Young (Corey Hawkins), Eric “Easy-E” Wright (Jason Mitchell), Lorenzo “MC Ren” Patterson (Aldis Hodge) and Antoine “DJ Yella” Carraby (Neil Brown, Jr.) as they use music instead of drugs and guns to get themselves out of Compton during an era of gang violence and police brutality the mid-‘80s.
Cinematographer Matthew Libatique brilliantly captures the period from ’86 to ’95 and Composer Joseph Trapanese captures the sounds with equal brilliance.
Best of all, however, this film is a tutorial, enlightening people, like me, who had no real understanding of Gangsta Rap as to its meaning. The fact is these men were journalists, using music instead of written words to give a more accurate reportage of what was going on in neighborhoods like Compton. The overlay of the Rodney King beating in ’91 gave support to the truth of their heroic work.
I give Straight Outta Compton a 4.6 out of 5.