It’s been a weird summer for us over here at the Zoo. Not only are most of us preparing to enter the next phase of our adult lives (hello, grad school), but we’re also exploring what’s next for this lovely site.
So, as per usual, I turned to this summer’s blockbusters to somewhat distract me from my impending responsibilities. The results have been mixed at best. The Avengers: Age of Ultron was mediocre. Jurassic World was a lot better than expected. Mad Max: Fury Road was phenomenal. Inside Out was great. Ant-Man? Well, I’m still holding off on that.
All these recent films aside, one film that I haven’t been seeing much promotion or hype for (besides that ill-placed commercial in the GOP debate and the random bus stops I frequent) is Straight Outta Compton.
Since I deem this unacceptable, I present to you four reasons to be hype about Straight Outta Compton:
1. It’s getting GREAT reviews.
Unlike a certain film that is opening for nationwide release today (aka Fantastic
Flop Four), Straight Outta Compton is getting great reviews from even the most skeptical of critics. Right now as I am writing this, the film is already certified fresh and has clocked in resounding 91% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Initially, AJ and I were worried that this film wouldn’t get as much hype as it deserves, but now I’m convinced that the film is a blockbuster smash that is strategically posing as a sleeper hit.
Still skeptical? Well, check out some of my favorite snippets from reviews from across the web:
The ferocious rhymes of hip-hop icons N.W.A.’s controversial 1988 anthem “F–k tha Police” scarcely seem to have aged when they blast on to the soundtrack of “Straight Outta Compton,” echoing into a world where the abuse of Black Americans at the hands of law-enforcement officials remains common headline news. But if “Compton” is undeniably of the moment, it’s also timeless in its depiction of how artists and writers transform the world around them into angry, profane, vibrant and singular personal expression. A conventional music-world biopic in outline, but intensely human and personal in its characterizations and attention to detail, director F. Gary Gray’s movie is a feast for hip-hop connoisseurs and novices alike as it charts the West Coast rap superstars’ meteoric rise, fractious in-fighting and discovery that the music business can be as savage as the inner-city streets. A very smart piece of counter-programming in a summer dominated by lily-white tentpole movies, Universal’s Aug. 14 opener should keep the studio clocking much dollars at the late-summer box office.
Scott Foundas of Variety
When it first came out back in the summer of 1988, N.W.A’s debut album Straight Outta Compton sounded like a harrowing distress call from the streets of South Central Los Angeles. It was urgent, angry, and alive in a way that West Coast hip-hop hadn’t yet dared to be. In the album’s rat-a-tat opening lines, Ice Cube delivers a blistering salvo of pent-up frustration from the “gang called Niggaz With Attitude.” The rapper’s choice of words wasn’t arbitrary. NWA was a gang. Maybe not in the traditional sense, but they were a tight-knit brotherhood forged through their collective experiences with poverty, prejudice, and police harassment. Even when you left, you were never really out.
Chris Nashawaty of Entertainment Weekly
2. The film’s music carries nostalgic value.
Back in the 80s and the 90s, if I had asked a random person about who they thought the faces of “Gangsta Rap” was at the moment, they’d probably rattle off the names of folks like Ice-T and Schoolly D, Boogie Down Productions, Just-Ice, N.W.A, Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, Slick Rick and many more.
They’d probably mention Dr. Dre’s The Chronic and Ice Cube’s Predator (both albums were released in 1992) and rave about their successful solo careers.
They’d probably mention the rise of Death Row and Bad Boy Records, the creation and evolution of Mafioso rap (and all it’s major players including Kool G Rap, Raekwon and The Wu-Tang Clan, Nas, Notorious B.I.G., Jay Z, Junior M.A.F.I.A, Lil Kim, and etc), and the extremely high stakes East Coast (Bad Boy Records, Diddy, and etc) vs West Coast (Death Row Records, Suge Knight, and etc) feud that culminated in the deaths of West Coast rapper Tupac and East Coast rapper Notorious B.I.G.).
My displeasure at such a poor hypothetical answer aside, besides the cultural impact that N.W.A had on this country and the world at large, I cannot stress enough how much nostalgic power their story and music possess, especially considering the fact that the musical and even economic landscape of this country has changed so much.
Essentially, I’m saying that music has a way of taking us back to how things “were” or how things “used to be”, or even a time when we were, maybe, less cynical.
And seeing as the children of the 80s and 90s are well into their twenties and thirties now and this game we call “Life”, (myself included), I am all for a trip down memory lane that distracts me from the cynical…even if it’s for a brief moment in time.
3. Speaking of music and nostalgia, Dr. Dre has released a soundtrack for the film titled Compton
In various interviews and on his radio show, Dr. Dre has called Compton “an album inspired by an album”.
Frankly, I’m already sold based on the meta-factor alone. But in all seriousness, Dr. Dre releasing new music is particularly exciting, seeing as fans of his—and you know, rap in general—have been waiting for well over a decade (16 years to be exact) on something like this.
You know already know what I’m talking about.
The infamous Detox.
After giving rap fans the greatest blue balls of the century (can’t take credit for that. All credit goes to my homie Terrell) by not releasing his long-awaited album, Detox, Dre took to his Beats 1 radio show— The Pharmacy—to explain himself. What was his reasoning?
It wasn’t good
Obvious disappointment aside, it appears that Compton will more than make up for it with appearances from Ice Cube, Kendrick Lamar, Jill Scott, Snoop Dogg/Lion (whatever this motherf*cker is calling himself these days), Eminem, Xzibit, and many more.
4. It’s timely.
In an era where the Civil Rights Movement has found new life under the banner of #BlackLivesMatter and with issues like police brutality rightfully refusing to exit the political stage without being addressed, F. Gary Gray’s musical epic is seems to have arrived right on time.
While the film will ultimately be chronicling the rise of NWA and the distinct lives of each of its members, I’m also willing to bet that Straight Outta Compton will provide an interesting foil for which we can view America’s recent racially-charged past and present.
Basically, this is a topic that I will most likely be going into greater detail about after the film comes out (that is NWA’s cultural impact and how music plays a key role in revolution and protest).
What say you, lovers of the zoo? Are you hype about Straight Outta Compton? Let me know in the comments (and check out the trailer) below!
Source: Variety, Rotten Tomatoes, Entertainment Weekly
Images From: Wikipedia, Tumblr, Magnet Magazine, Buzzfeed