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Behind the Music: Thoughts on Straight Outta Compton

Courtesy of Universal Pictures (Via Wikipedia)

Straight Outta Compton (2015)

Directed By F. Gary Gray

Since I am doing the 30-Day Song Challenge, I think it would be appropriate to write a blog post for the movie I watched recently in theaters, Straight Outta Compton. This is somewhat out of the left-side of the field because you wouldn’t think it would be a movie review that I would post on my blog. Personally, I didn’t think I would enjoy this movie, but I actually did.

Straight Outta Compton is a biographical drama film about the gangster rap group, N.W.A. The group consists of Arabian Prince, DJ Yella, Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, Ice Cube, and MC Ren. The movie’s plot tells the story of the group’s rise and pitfalls of fame as well as the historical movement that they created within history.

First of all, I was impressed by the acting skills of newcomer actors: Jason Mitchell, Corey Hawkins, and O’Shea Jackson Jr. These actors have taken minor roles for other shows and movies, but I think this was their first time taking the main roles for such a huge film project. They did an excellent job in portraying these legendary rappers and musicians though.

I thought it was interesting that they added real life footage of the 1992 Rodney King case, which eventually led up to the LA Riots. By specifically placing raw footage into the movie, it creates a greater impact towards viewers and makes them think about the issue of police brutality. Racism has been an issue for ages. One could argue that this film is a propaganda piece towards today’s controversial issues regarding race and police brutality.

I admit that in the beginning I wasn’t interested in any type of rap music. In fact, I was part of a group of people who considered rap music, especially gangster rap music, loud noise and ruckus. It wasn’t until my junior year in high school where my English teacher stated that there is more to the lyrics than what you hear on the surface. At first, one would judge the music too violent, encouraging police brutality, sex, drugs, and etc. However, if one were to closely analyze these songs lyrics, he or she may be able to depict the lifestyles and struggles that African-Americans face in their daily lives. Analyzing the song lyrics of rap music is similar to analyzing American literature from the South. Words in the form of song lyrics or novels have a way of portraying the emotions and experiences that real life individuals go through. There are many interpretations one could make and learn from rap music. Hence, one shouldn’t judge rap lyrics on the surface, but try to dive in and really understand what is being said and what issues are being addressed.

I mentioned that Straight Outta Compton could be considered a propaganda film and does not fully depict the whole situation of the LA Riots and the issue of police brutality. Although I agree that this movie only shows one side of the story about the issues at hand, it is still an excellent source to understanding that one viewpoint, and also allows viewers to become aware of the bias views the film holds. As a result, viewers could begin to question why certain film shots were depicted in such a way. By questioning, it initiates conversation among viewers, and also engages individuals to search for answers and to better understand the issues.

Furthermore, one might consider that the LA Riots was just an issue between two racial groups. However, it isn’t. It affected all groups and communities. The one side we don’t seem to be aware of or talk about is how these riots affected the Asian communities in LA. There were many Asian families living in these neighborhoods as well, and their businesses and homes were in danger. One could be blinded and think that this is just a black and white issue, but there is a grey area that we tend to ignore and should acknowledge.

Overall, I really enjoyed this movie. It is revolutionary because these issues are being talked about on a regular basis in media and our daily lives. Some of us, tend to look the other way when we really shouldn’t. We shouldn’t judge a person by the color of his or her skin, but through his or her personality, and our interactions with him or her. These changes can only happen if we ourselves change our own perceptions and opinions of others.


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