I was so excited when I saw the trailer to Straight Outta Compton – a film about the popularisation of American Gangsta Rap based on the lives of members of the N.W.A and others.
So, I took the little ones and myself over to watch it last night. And it was epic!
It was raw and did not pussyfoot around the issues of police violence, racism, poverty, white people taking advantage in the industry and gang culture. Yet at the same time, the music and drama was enough to turn even the gentlest of souls into an anarchist – shouting Fuck the Police! – even if it’s just for the duration of the film.
I was born in the early 90s, and although I listened to rap music growing up and had heard in the playground about the twists and turns of the backstories, I did not know them all in detail. But the film did a great job in making it accessible, I know by simplifying a lot of the story. This is a film for everyone – whether or not you know all the lyrics or thought N.W.A stood for “No Whites Allowed”.
What touched me so deep was how things have not changed. The film depicts the acquittal of four LAPD officers who were filmed beating Rodney King on video in 1992. How many lives have been taken, on film and off, since (and before) then? How many acquittals since then? How many riots?
It also touches upon the government attempting to censor N.W.A – arresting them for “Fuck The Police”. This is all too familiar now with our own government banning certain rappers from entering the country – and a more sinister policing of “non-violent thoughts”. They are now able to seize your passport just because you disagreed with them. We all know this rule does not apply to everyone – only those [read as Black/Brown or Muslim] who they perceive as a threat.
“For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens: as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone.” – David Cameron, British PM
I loved the references to gangs and how they united against the state. I won’t give too much more away – but it was an emotional roller-coaster. Getting you angry, laughing, sad. I honestly could not recommend it enough. My 15 year old sister came out of it saying “I finally get it”. Hours of trying to explain why just getting more black officers won’t solve anything, why things won’t change unless the people resist and riot. She agreed but did not get it. But a 2 hour film did the trick – she’s woke. And I don’t care if it took a film. The fact remains, she’s woke.
Fuck the police coming straight from the underground
A young nigga got it bad cause I’m brown
And not the other color so police think
they have the authority to kill a minority
– Fuck the Police, N.W.A.