In the mid 1980s, five black men out of Compton, California, pioneered the gangsta rap movement that became an instant sensation nationwide. Rappers like Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, and Eazy-E emerged from the group. But not everything was a bed of roses for them; as years passed, egos collided and money and creative differences pulled them apart.
I wanted to watch Straight Outta Compton due to the controversy that has been generated as result of it not being nominated to this year's Oscars. While I don't think it is Oscar material, I do think it stands out from most of this year's productions in several important ways.
I don't like gangsta music; its call to violence is not the type of music I enjoy, but there is a wide sector of the U.S., even the world population, who feel they live at the edge of society and this music appeals to them. I don't like this music but I enjoyed it in the context of the film--I even swayed to the rhythm--, played out against unauthorized police raids, illegal police detentions based on race, and intimidation tactics to quash, or at least censor, the gangsta movement.
I may not agree with its gritty, violent message, but Straight Outta Compton puts racial relations in the spotlight for better or for worse, and it shines a light on what means to grow up black in ghettos all over the country.