Bad Rap: “Straight Outta Compton” and the Consequences of Sugarcoating the Past

When keeping it superficial goes wrong.

It’s interesting how a biopic about one of the most influential and controversial hip hop groups in history is also such a blasé affair. N.W.A rose to infamy in the eighties and nineties thanks to their gangsta attitude and aggressive lyrics about women and the motherfucking police. Heck, even if you know nothing about rap, you might recognize two member: Ice Cube and Dr. Dre.

This is a movie that should be equally controversial and it should be the epitome of a music biopic keeping it real, just like N.W.A tried to do with their tracks. Instead, Straight Outta Compton has more in common with Coach Carter than Hustle & Flow. And speaking of Hustle & Flow, explain to me how the 2005 fictional account of a fictional rapper can get so much criticism for being “stereotypical and cliché” while Straight Outta Compton gets away with its own egregious behavior.

The terrible thing about Compton is that its clichés aren’t even all related to race and what being a black male in a tough neighborhood means. Instead, we get general movie tropes that go on for almost three hours, making Compton one of the most overrated and most boring movies of the summer.

Even if you were drowsing off for half the movie, you could still recall all the things that happen in your typical music biopic, like focusing on specific individuals of the group – individuals who the general audience is bound to recognize (again: Ice Cube and Dr. Dre) – then showing them all together conglomerating their skills for the group’s best interests, but then they start to get popular and famous and money becomes a big factor, as does greed and the effect money can have on friendships.

You get the idea.

All the adversity N.W.A faces in the movie is so superficial and so easy to overcome, it makes the audience think it’s almost easy creating a rap group and racing off into a euphoric bliss of women in bikinis, stacks of cash, and mounds of drugs.

Where’s the real adversity? You know, like Dre’s egregious treatment of women? That would certainly be keeping it real, if you ask me. Really, Compton could be a Disney movie if all the swears were taken out. It’s such a tame movie and it really shouldn’t be. It should be fiery and aggressive and passionate.

You know, N.W.A stands for Niggaz wit’ Attitude. Straight Outta Compton? More like Straight Outta Attitude, because the movie does start off on a promising note, with Eazy-E – one of the original members of N.W.A – going into a tense situation and then the police getting involved in full riot gear. As he climbs out a house’s window and disappears over the roof of the next house, we get the title of the movie.

It’s a heart-pounding experience and those are few and far between all the rest of the bullshit in this movie. Pretty much the only truly good thing about this movie is how eerily similar most of the actors look in comparison to their real counterparts. I mean, it helps Ice Cube was portrayed by his son, but still.

There’s also a special cameo or two you’ll be sure to enjoy, although those are tiny flashes of light in a dark tunnel of incompetence. To make matters worse, the second half of the movie actually slows down, which the first half didn’t (to its credit). Once Eazy-E gets diagnosed with a certain disease, Compton turns into a Lifetime movie.

I hear a sequel might be made. I hope it’s better than this overrated experience.

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