As the trailer for Universal’s Straight Outta Compton begins, Ice Cube and Dr. Dre reminisce about life in the early 90’s and introduce us to the modern day Compton. They speak about the violence in Compton between black youths and the police saying “Our music was our weapon.” While its subject matter is as relevant today as it was in the 1990’s, at its heart, as Dr. Dre tells the audience, it’s a film about how a bunch of Kids from Compton touched the world.
The introduction to the trailer for Straight Outta Compton follows the two artists, now self-made family men and philanthropists with acting credentials, under their belt as they tour their old Compton neighborhood and talk with the locals about life in the late 80s’ and early 90’s. Many of the folks they encounter are quick to point out that Compton was irreversibly changed by the music of N.W.A.
“When I think of N.W.A., they weren’t really music to me, it was more of a real lifestyle-brothas from my neighborhood that made it out.”
After the intro we are introduced to a younger version of the group, portrayed by a young cast of unknown actors. It takes the traditional tropes of young artists rising from obscurity to fame and all that comes with it and blends it with a narrative about police brutality and the inner city struggles of black America. What is revealed in the trailer is not only an autobiography of the group, but of Compton itself.
The Straight Outta Compton trailer highlights the group’s notoriously crime ridden, anti-authoritarian lyrical content and the controversy that followed. Anyone who remembers the group remembers that they were the voice of the streets of Compton. For good or bad, they represented an experience shared by a large group of black youths.
The trailer aslo hints at the huge societal backlash regarding what was perceived as criminal thugs inciting violence for their song “F–k Tha Police.” With themes like this, it’s setting itself up to be a historical narrative as well.
It was the Compton based N.W.A. who provided the soundtrack for the L.A. riots in 1992 as their themes of police brutality, inner city gang life and inequality were central to the causes of those riots and suddenly, the world took notice of poverty and living while black in Los Angeles and Compton.
Suddenly, white middle-class suburbia knew what it was that the black kids in neighborhoods like Compton were talking about in their music at that time. While the lyrical content of the titular song ‘Straight Outta Compton’ reflected the hard life of poverty stricken youth, it also scared the living daylights out of mainstream society and law enforcement took it personally.
Even their moniker, Ni**as With Attitude, was a threat to white suburban life, as depicted in the film. This is at least part of what is reflected in the Red Band Trailer for Straight Outta Compton. Just how far into their career the film shows remains to be seen, but it has the potential to tap into the emotional center of what many in America are facing to this day.
The film Stars O’Shea Jackson Jr., Ice Cubes real life son, who portrays his father in the film, and Paul Giomatti along with Corey Hawkins as Dr. Dre, Jason Mitchel as Eazy-E, Aldis Hodge asMC Ren, and Neil Brown Jr as DJ Yella.
Straight Outta Compton premieres August 14.