Straight Outta the Movie Theater: The Good the Bad and The Ugly about the NWA biopic.
First of all, I am a fair-weather NWA fan. When the album Straight Outta Compton and then the subsequent Niggas For Life dropped, initially I remember laughing at their accents, their clothes and especially their jerry curls! We were still bumping A Tribe Called Quest’s Low End Theory and still picking our engine’s off the track with Black Sheep. That NWA ish came like a proverbial bat out of hell. All of sudden dudes I knew all my life were Crips and that B (bish) word started flying around so much brothers were getting the taste slapped out of their mouths. I was in 8th grade.
Very soon the album spread like wild fire and you wasn’t poppin unless you knew the words. Fuck the Police became the anthem, that was the draw to the group and allegedly if you read the illuminati theories behind NWA’s creation, that was the plan. Rope the people in with Express Yourself and F the Police and then fill their brains with garbage. Eventually I was singing, “I’d rather fuck you and she swallowed it-don’t matter just don’t bite it”, like something was wrong with me (in hindsight there was a lot wrong-yet we will get to that another time).
By the time the group really blew up tho, the one I really liked, Ice Cube was gone and he was Amerikkka’s Most Wanted and I gravitated towards him and the jacking of beats. I still regarded NWA as country folks who made a dope political song, yet were in no way political.
Fast forward, Eazy’s dead, Cube and Dre blow up and whatever happened to Yella and Ren? Well that is not answered in the movie, yet we are all able to happily and sadly relive our youth vicariously through the movie.
It’s amazing! I am older now than Biggie, Tupac and Eazy E ever got to be and look at their impact on the world. The movie had me amped! Hearing the music again (I aint listen to NWA in years) and watching the rise of a group that I remember from when I was a little girl just was dope. All these Hip Hop movies coming out are speaking to a certain generation. They know were older, maybe went to college and will go to the movies. The actors were dope and the soundtrack is decent, complete with the George Clinton, Zapp band sound that characterized West coast Hip Hop. It was nice to see Boyz in da hood make it out of the ghetto into mansions. Even better to hear fuck the police over and over in a climate that seems to call for it (doesn’t it always seem to call for it?). I came out of the movie in tears, happy to be Black and Hip Hop (im always happy about that, it just seems extra this year) and thankful that some of us had “made it”. Again Cube’s son does an excellent job acting like daddy (aint that a nice gig) and the movie although long moves quickly. There is not much revealed that true fans or even fair-weather ones like myself would not know yet still it moved me. I left that joint crying over Eazy, over every and anyone we’ve lost, feeling old, grateful to still be with the living.
Perhaps I am gullible tho….
The actor playing Snoop looks nothing like him, so while I knew there was gonna be mention of other artists when the scene comes when Snoop is introduced, its two guys and I thought it was Daz and Kurupt and I was confused, all the other actors vaguely resemble the real people, wtf happened with Snoop? Jerry Heller gets a lot of screen time. I know Paul Giamatti (sp?) is an excellent actor but damn!, this aint ya movie son!, yet it shows how much of an impact he had on the group. He isn’t truly presented as someone evil, just a business man…its just business man.
Women do not have a role in this movie except as mothers, groupies, and wives (all high yella at that but whatever-shout out my beige cousins). Key women are also missing, like Lady of Rage, Jewell, and Michele’ Le. Yall couldn’t have put a random afro puff chick in there as Rage or some squeaky talking girl to be Michele’Le?! And of course the elephant in the room, no mention of domestic violence.
To be honest it’s their movie (Cube and Dre’s) and no one throws dirt on themselves unless evolved in that way. They are not. I’ve never heard of Dre apologizing and I still find it awkward that the girl who could do it all night is now Cube’s wife, who gets a lot of face time. Yet she and the other wives/girlfriends are there like light skin trophies. More power to Kim, she got her man, yet still it speaks of the mental state of Cube and all the fellas in their youth.
I want to forgive them and say it’s a youthful transgression. Yet that’s almost like forgiving cops who aint never ask for forgiveness or seek to do better. I want to just ride for the homies and say, “look at what yall did!! Black people are amazing”. Then I remember Black men are amazing and always have been, and well Black women, we are sometimes only seen as having amazing assets by our men.
It has always been hard to be a Hip Hop girl. It has always been male dominated and centered on exploiting women. The irony and the pain of it all is that some of the most misogynistic lines are loved and spit ferociously by women, myself included.
Now I have a 12 year old daughter and the volume has to go down for some songs or long discussions have to follow. Now I teach teenage girls who come in class singing songs I may have bumped in the car (Future’s Freak Hoe or the one about God Blessing Trap Negus) and I am conflicted. I want them to love hip hop, I love watching young people’s heads nod and faces screw up to hard beats. I want them to not have to choose sides, ratchet vs. conscious, PE vs. NWA cause it is all us. Yet I want them to love themselves fiercely, in ways we did not always do as young girls. Many of us got caught up in a bitch, hoe, freak, slut mentality and find ourselves older, unmarried, with children, and often at odds with their fathers. This is not Hip Hop’s fault tho or NWA’s and so go see the movie, or not. We still gonna be here, still shining, still creating, building, dying and lying. Don’t quote me…cause I aint said shit.
Soul Force Worker #1 Lola Fulani