Straight Outta the Movie Theater: The Good the Bad and The Ugly about the NWA biopic.

Straight Outta the Movie Theater: The Good the Bad and The Ugly about the NWA biopic.

NWA

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.

****Spoiler Alert****

The good

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 bad

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.

The ugly

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

Don’t Front on My Brothers, I Take Care of Them Before I Take Care of Others

hiphoptaughtme

bran nubian

It feels too good to be thought of as God, a Brother, and not a Nigger.  This line came from the seminal Hip Hop group Bran Nubian who at one point or still are members of the 5% nation. The 5% believe that the Black man is God and the Black woman is the Supreme Mother of the world.  They also believe that it is only 5% out of 100 (Ghostface voice) that can civilize the deaf, dumb, and blind. The 5% Nation was an essential part of setting the foundation for Hip Hop in its toddler years.  Them, along with Rakim as the father of that movement in Hip Hop, Big Daddy Kane, Wu Tang and many others who if not members were greatly influenced by the NGE (Nation of Gods and Earths). These men taught me the five percent lesson in a song and I have not forgotten…

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Don’t Front on My Brothers, I Take Care of Them Before I Take Care of Others

bran nubian

It feels too good to be thought of as God, a Brother, and not a Nigger.  This line came from the seminal Hip Hop group Bran Nubian who at one point or still are members of the 5% nation. The 5% believe that the Black man is God and the Black woman is the Supreme Mother of the world.  They also believe that it is only 5% out of 100 (Ghostface voice) that can civilize the deaf, dumb, and blind. The 5% Nation was an essential part of setting the foundation for Hip Hop in its toddler years.  Them, along with Rakim as the father of that movement in Hip Hop, Big Daddy Kane, Wu Tang and many others who if not members were greatly influenced by the NGE (Nation of Gods and Earths). These men taught me the five percent lesson in a song and I have not forgotten to this day. You have to know, the ledge, the wise the dom (dumb) and understand your culture of freedom, power equally with the God so you could build and born your cipher. (Knowledge, wisdom, understanding, culture, freedom, power/equality, god, build, born, cypher). For a Hip Hop song to impart a lesson so profound and yet so subtle on a generation of listeners, and beyond is truly amazing. So while understanding this culture freedom powering equally with the gods I’m gonna continue to build and born this cipher.

Sadat X (the wild cowboy) is the emcee that spits the affirmative line, saying, “If my crew cant get in then the X makes an exit to the rear, I’m outta here, don’t front on my brothers, I take care of them before I take care of others”.  Powerful. Group Solidarity. Black Men educated and unified and orderly; for the people.  Sadat X was demonstrating humility; not the arrogance that can dominate in a capitalist society showing that he, and no other man or structure,  was above his people,  who may not have what he has or know what he knows but are his people nonetheless.  When I was a young girl I lived in a nice New Jersey suburb, it wasn’t no Rev Run NJ, but black folks did have nice houses and cars.  We use to visit family members in the South Bronx every weekend and I was sent to stay with them every summer.  One time I complained to my mom about the trips, the hood, the environment…even tried to call her out on some ole, “why you got me in the hood, it is unsafe?!” She calmly turned to me and told me in that way when you know you are not to say anything else, they are your Family. She also said something like; I lived here before I had you, as did your sister.  What would you have us do with your cousins, aunts, grandparents and father? Leave them in the city? Invite them all to NJ? Don’t front on your people take care of them before you take care of others. A person is a person because we are a people.

This verse speaks to another type of pinned for unity: economic, cultural, and spiritual.  It is an affirmation that we do see each other as one.  There was a time when everything was about a crew and you really weren’t shit if you did not roll with people that were just as about it as you.  Everyone had a crew Wutang,  Junior Mafia,  Hit Squad,  Native Tongues,  Boot Camp Clique,  Terror Squad and this practice continues somewhat today in the form of YMCMB-Gwinnin and the Pit-bull dj’s.  The Africanennss of the crews is that “Umuntu Ngu Muntu Nga Bantu” belief–A person is a person because we are a people. You are mine and I am yours and I got your back, your side and your front. What happens to me affects you as well and the cipher continues.  Ubuntu is a South African loosely translated to “unity or humanness”, that non tangible stuff that makes us human and the need the essential universal demand for unity.

ubuntu

For a young lady it also takes on the connotations of we came together we stay together (leave no sister/home girl behind-force that chick if need be to bring her ass with the crew and not go with that cute brother-this shit could save your life) and this is something young girls are taught or should be taught as they enter the dating/socializing scene. You know when you roll deep people are less likely to mess with you. Now for black men there is the problem of the local law enforcement, however even in regards to that you might be better off with a gang of brothers that can assist if you need to defend yourself, video tape the police, or acquire bail money. Stick together, stand together, rise together, common phrase is togetherWhatever we do, we will do it together, whether we rise or fall, we will do this as a unit. What would our communities look like if we cared more about one another? If we pooled our money? If we controlled our schools? If we didn’t front on our brothers/sisters and took care of them over anyone else. The homey Ken Brisbon (thegameissoldnottold), had an article speaking of the need for Blacks to be racist like White ethnic minorities, Chinese, etc, however we cannot “be racist” until we control our institutions and we will not be able to do that until we love ourselves and care about those who look like us, who live in our neighborhoods.

We need a revolution of care, of love, of mental healing to support or provide foundation for all these facts we’ve accumulated. I’m about to give out hugs; put up a stand like Lucy from the Peanuts, you down?

charlie-brown-lucy

I generally am not a hugger, my family is Native American and West Indian and in those cultures hugging is essential or done frequently unless something is wrong with you and then they’re either telling you to burn sage or drink tea. However as I’ve matured I’ve seen how powerful a hug, a kind word, honest concern can be. As a whole we’ve been conditioned to not feel, to not love, to not care. Let’s get off this wheel of hate and do for self and one another.

Additionally let’s stop fronting on brothers. We as Black women are hurt, angry, disappointed, frustrated in our men and for many good reasons. However they are still our men, our fathers, grandfathers, nephews, cousins, and they are BEAUTIFUL. We have begun to focus on all the flaws all their struggles with no regard to their own feelings and challenges. I am not making excuses for deadbeat dads, pimps, abusers and their ilk. I am just saying let’s remember who they were/are, who we were/are, and who we all could be. I’m out of here, don’t front on my brothers, I take care of them before I take care of others. Word.

fine black family

Peace, Love and Light from SoulForce worker #1 Lola Fulani aka Bonitaah Applebum

THE WORLD IS YOURS!

Peace universal family! Music is prayer and can be used to heal. Why not use our soul power that is Hip Hop?! Many Hip Hop songs have lyrics/lines that are powerfully able to set/change a mood.  It is time for us to use these lines to get us out of our literal and proverbial binds. Read, share, and repeat until the mission of spreading love and light is complete.

The World is Yours!, Its Mine its Mine its Mine!

In a society that constantly affirms that we do not matter, with our constant disrespect in the media, politically, institutionally and our literal unaddressed murders, this artist, this song, this line came as a healing balm to remind us of the truth. When this song came out in 94’ the Black world of North America, specifically the East coast was still reeling from the horror of the crack/cocaine 80s and the recent importation of gang culture that was coming from the west. We as a community were not seemingly sure where we were headed, who would take the lead, and what were the lessons of where we had been. Although we still struggle with the knowledge of our past, present and future, songs like this articulated the need to get thinking and envisioning things to in fact prepare us for where we find ourselves in 2015.