Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Express Yourself: Straight Outta Compton

Today was a huge release I've been waiting for for awhile, the DVD release of F. Gary Gray's Straight Outta Compton. I was a HUGE fan of this movie, and I think it's the best movie I saw last year (outside of Star Wars; I promise I'll get to that eventually). An incredibly well-made, well-acted, awesomely scripted movie, Straight Outta Compton was a big hit, much more successful than I thought it would be when I heard they were making it. When I saw this movie in theaters, the first thing I said to my wife as we were walking out was, "This movie about gangster rap is gonna win an Oscar." Yeah... more on that later.

I'm a big NWA fan, and have been as long as I've been listening to rap music. (Fun fact most don't know about me: I won a rap battle in college. I'm kind of a big deal, and I got mad flow.) NWA was the first gangsta rap that I ever really listened to, and I love Dre and Ice Cube's solo careers as well (I was actually listening to Westside Connection earlier in the day). They were a massively important group, practically putting the West Coast on the map as far as hardcore rap goes, and they were one of the first to speak out about the injustice of the police in the African American community. They've directly launched the careers of rappers like Eminem, Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent, and Tupac, and influenced artists as wide ranging as South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. NWA, as Ice Cube said, "has made it ok for artists to be themselves."

I had to use two NWA songs for the title to this article. Why? Because, while the movie was titled Straight Outta Compton, arguably their biggest hit along with Fuck Tha Police, Express Yourself is as big a part of this movie as anything else. SOC was a hard-hitting, tell it like it is song, and Fuck Tha Police was a once-in-a-generation societal force... but Express Yourself was NWA in a nutshell.

I'm expressing with my full capabilities
And now I'm living in correctional facilities
Cause some don't agree with how I do this...

When you got a subject and a predicate
Add it on a dope beat, and it'll make you think

That's it right there. That's what this movie, what NWA, was about. It was about the freedom to express yourself, and the power behind that. It's about using your power, your position, and your talents to make the people around you think instead of just going with the tide. It's about standing up to The Man, whoever that may be in your life or your society, and in theirs, it was Darryl Gates and the LAPD. As much as this movie was about the lives of Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Eazy Motherfuckin' E, and the rest of the crew, it was about that. Freedom, in a place in time that wasn't free at all.
Well won't you tell everybody what the fuck you gotta say...
Now, as far as it doesn't directly affect or bother me that no African Americans were nominated for Oscars this year, I think it's a damn crime that this movie got practically nothing. Best Picture? Maybe not, but definitely in the discussion. And I haven't seen a supporting actor this year better than Jason Mitchell as Eazy. Hell, Ice Cube's son was great as his old man. I haven't seen a lot of other movies released this year, so I can't really comment on the #OscarsSoWhite of it all, but I saw this one, and it's just wrong that the white screenwriters got credit while the fantastic African American actors and director did not. This was the first movie I saw this year that gave me a "Wow" moment, and that should be recognized.

Well, if they won't do it, I will. Straight Outta Compton was the hands-down best movie I saw in 2015. So I'm giving it an award. Introducing The Horror Revolution Kick Ass Award:

Given for exceptional performance and general all-around kickassery.
So there you go. In a surprise absolutely no one saw coming, Straight Outta Compton win's the inaugural Horror Revolution Kick Ass Award{patent pending}.

Straight Outta Compton was fantastic. Mitchell's Eazy, Jackson's Cube, and Giamatti's Heller were absolutely outstanding, and it's one of those films where you can tell everyone involved was having a whole lot of fun. While there have been critics who have problems with the whitewashing of Dre's involvement in violence against women (which was touched on, however briefly, in the film), and whether or not everything that happened in the movie was actually what went down (including Heller himself, big surprise), from everything I know and have read about the rise and fall of NWA, it all seems pretty legit.

Bottom Line: Stop reading (you're at the end already anyway) and see the movie if you're one of the five people in America that haven't already. Watch it again. Great movie. Great acting. Great directing. Right up there with Walk The Line for the best music biopics of all time. And now it's an award winner!

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