Hands up who had a jheri curl? Come on, don’t lie now! Lol! I know I had one. I was 11 and it was the late 80s. I remember I was just starting secondary school at the time, and my best friend then, who is also my best friend now, still teases me about the fact that I always used to use my finger to flip up the fringe, as to stop the ‘jheri-juice’ from dripping into my eyes. I’ve still got my school photo sporting the style, and no, I’m not going to post it here!
I haven’t been as excited about a movie as I am about the NWA biopic in a long time! The casting, the trailer, everything looks so on point, and immediately takes me back to 1988! The movie is released on August 14th over here so the countdown has begun… For me anyway. Check out the two released trailers below, with the latter featuring a cool introduction from members Dr Dre and Ice Cube, along with some interesting cameos. Once again, will you be going to see this movie?
Original story posted: June 19th, 2014
Exciting news this week, as the makers of the highly anticipated NWA biopic announced that they have finally cast the three leads, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube and the late Eazy-E, for ‘Straight Outta Compton’, the big screen movie about the legendary gangsta rap-pioneering hip hop outfit. And, thankfully they are all unknown actors!
‘After more than five years, four writers and a tough-to-please trio that holds cast and script veto power, Universal’s N.W.A biopic “Straight Outta Compton” is finally getting the green light.
Sources say the studio has assembled its leading threesome to tackle the roles of Ice Cube, Dr. Dre and the late Eazy-E. The three parties with approval – Cube, Dre and Eazy-E’s widow Tomica Wright – have signed off on the actors who will play the core members of the seminal rap group.
It’s no secret that Cube has been lobbying for his son, O’Shea Jackson Jr., 24, to be cast as the teen version of his father, and it appears he got his wish.
Less known is the classically trained actor who is said to have won the role of Dre, Marcus Callender. Although the alum of New York’s Shakespeare Lab at the Public Theater might be more familiar with Chekhov than Compton’s gang-plagued streets, he beat out a phalanx of would-be rappers (the Beats co-founder originally wanted Michael B. Jordan to play him, but the actor is about to take on a Fantastic Four reboot at Fox). Still, Callender has some screen credits, including the pilot for Steve Zaillian’s Criminal Justice on HBO, as well as bit parts in the CBS series Blue Bloods and Elementary.
Even more obscure is Jason Mitchell, who insiders say landed the film’s lead role of Eazy-E after an out-of-the-park screen test. The New Orleans-based actor, who is repped by Talent Connexion, has played small roles in Broken City and Contraband.’
I, for one am very excited about this movie, which has been in development for five years already, with multiple changes in terms of writers and directors! I am also so happy they didn’t just decide to go with a bunch of known actors who they felt would bring in a fan base as the NWA legacy can do that all by itself.
There was talk recently of comedian Katt Williams playing Eazy-E… Hmmm… I can see where they were going with that, but not sure to be honest. Also, I don’t think I could believe Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station) in the role of Dr. Dre… He is a good actor and all, but that is way too random for me. Even going by the fact that I felt the same way about Lil Mama playing Left Eye in the TLC movie last year, and then having to admit afterwards that she actually did an amazing job! Choosing fresh-faced actors hopefully means these young men are actually the best people for the job, and they will do the roles justice! The above picture shows (l-r) Oshea Jackson Junior, Jason Mitchell and Marcus Callender, crouching in front of (l-r) Ice Cube, the film’s director F. Gary Gray and Dr. Dre.
Will you be going to see this movie when it finally comes out?
I’ve been meaning to write this since the beginning of the week, but better late than never, right? Rather than pen a overall review, I thought I’d list my favourite things about the very insightful documentary, The Art of Rap, directed and presented, by Ice T. Hope you enjoy!
1) The stories and anecdotes.
My favourite of these stories being KRS1′s hilarious revelation that he became an emcee after being an innocent bystander in a rap battle. According to him, one of the emcees turned to the crowd, picked him out and started dissing him hardcore about his attire. Well, Chris wasn’t having that. He defended himself, buried the guy and the rest is hip hop history.
2) The greatest sounding voices in hip hop didn’t come naturally… At first.
MC Lyte is one of the most respected females to ever touch the mic, and has arguably the most recognised and projecting voice of any female rapper ever. However, she didn’t start out this way! Lyte reveals in the doc that it was down to much coaching from Lucien George Sr (the father of the brothers from 90s hip hop crew Full Force), which helped her developed that big unique voice we now all know and love! There are similar interesting stories to do with voices included in the footage from Chuck D and Muggs from Cypress Hill, but I’ll let you watch the film for yourself for those.
3) Rappers are fans too!
I loved hearing Redman gassing about Eminem, and then Eminem reminiscing that after hearing a verse from Naughty by Nature’s Treach (as an upcoming rapper), it depressed him and forced him to rethink his own approach. But it was all down to the love of how good he thought his rhyme was! Elsewhere, Dougie Fresh reciting lyrics from his heroes Melle Melle and Kool Moe Dee was a joy to watch – he was like any other fan, giddy with excitement! In addition, I’m sure Snoop Dogg’s perfect rendition of Ice T’s Six In The Morning, was one of the reasons why the Dogg Father’s slot in the doc was one of the longest included!
4) Rappers and writers/journos – we got so much in common.
This comparison is nothing new, but this film took me back to the reason why I started writing in the first place, and reignited my creative juices – thanks Ice T! I started writing as soon as I was able to string sentences together, from stories at primary school, which my teacher regularly read out to the rest of the class to plays which I would perform with my friends in the playground! Like a rapper, I get off on story-telling and documenting my experiences through words! Hearing Rakim and Eminem get all technical about how they write their bars, made me lean over to my bestie as we watched this in the cinema, and before I has a chance to say anything he said: ‘You can so relate, can’t you?’
5) Dr Dre has only spent two weeks out of the studio in 27 freaking years!
Damn! That tells anyone with half a brain that success doesn’t come easy! Also, if you love what you do, you will never really work a day in your life – it is clear that Dre spends so much time in the studio because he simply loves being there!
6) Joe Budden’s rhyme
This was one of the standouts for me in the entire doc. And I didn’t see it coming. This is not because I don’t rate him… But I guess if someone asked me (pre-watch) who I thought was going to leave a lasting impression on me after watching the doc, Joe Budden’s name wouldn’t have been in my top 50, put it that way – I just haven’t really considered him like that in years, if at all. Granted, I know Slaughterhouse are doing great things and his credibility as an emcee has had a resurgence due to that project, but this one verse made me want to go and check them out a bit more thoroughly. What I also took from that is that there are so many dope rappers out there, but because of politics, wanting to go mainstream, losing their way/hunger/mojo (we’ve all been there) and trying to hard to follow trends, they kind of let go of that original flavour they first came with! If every emcee out now rhymed with that fresh mentality and heart they first possessed when they entered the game, we may have less superstar rappers but we’d have a lot more modern-day classic material – just my humble opinion! The business of hip hop turned a lot of good emcees in to not great rappers! Personally I blame a lot of that on the fans – coz a lot of times the wider audience doesn’t support what’s actually GOOD, and emcees/rappers need to eat!
7) Don’t get it twisted about Ice T, AND this dude’s address book is crazy!
Anyone knocking Ice T’s credibility in the game, due to forays into project such as the reality TV show Ice Loves CoCo, which follows the relationship with the self-professed original gangster rapper and his Barbie-bodied wife, should know that a leopard rarely changes his spots! Ice T knows hip hop and the fact that a lot of credible people wanted to be a part of this project shows that Ice has that respect! What I said in my above post is true, but like Joe Budden, that original talent, swag or flavour is always there in someone, even though you may not see it, due to them moving in a total different direction, gaining more success or maturing. But hopefully once in a while you still get to see that come out! Snoop Dogg has almost become a bit of a caricature to the mainstream media, but when you see him doing what he does best, there is no doubt that the original Snoop Doggy Dogg is in the buildin’! Holla!
8) New York and L.A have some beautiful skylines. For Real!
The connecting shots for the doc largely consisted of beautifully shot footage of new York and L.A Skylines. Simply stunning!
10) Not everybody’s got it like Biggie, so just ‘do you’!
Treach was spot on when he said something along the lines of : ‘so many rappers boast about not writing down their lyrics and it shows, coz their rhymes are whack!’ The truth of the matter is, who cares whether you write stuff down or not, if it sounds dope then I’m sure most fans don’t care either way. But those emcees/rappers who are trying to prove something to everybody by deliberately not jotting down your lyrics and coming up with whackness? In the words of Jeru Da Damaja, ‘You’re playing yourself!’
10. Grandmaster Caz
I’m not afraid to admit I wasn’t really familiar with this cat before watching this, but I’m glad this doc gave me a flavour of what he is all about. He is a beast lyrically and an all round funny dude! Just my type of man! Another artist I look forward to digging deeper into.
A Lil Gripe…
As with everything, there are always going to be things that everyone thinks could have been better, my main gripe in this documentary is I wasn’t too hot on Raekwon, Ras Kass and Q-Tip’s inclusion, and not coz I don’t like them as artists, the opposite in fact. I just felt the weight they have bought to hip hop, and the part they have played in terms of the art thus far was not reflected in the best way. I totally understand the lack of time and trying to squeeze everyone in, but I still believe that if the right questions where asked, or the right edits included, this could have been achieved. With something called the ‘Art of Rap’, some of the best to do it should have been asked more directly about the actual art, their art – coz some of us students really want to know that stuff!
The 80s and 90s US TV show, 21 Jump Street is reportedly in the process of being made into a big screen movie, and will star comedy giant Jonah Hill, Step Up’s Channing Tatum and hip hopper turned actor Ice Cube.
I remember the popular Fox series which ran from 1987-1991 back in the day. However, I never actually watched a single episode. This is because it only made it over to the UK via cable TV, and I didn’t have cable growing up. But I recall seeing slick adverts for the show whenever I was over at my friend’s house watching TV, and wanting to watch it so badly. Also the series heartthrob and lead actor Johnny Depp was all over the teen magazines at the time, so I was also aware of the show due to him.
‘Either they don’t know, don’t show… Or don’t care about what’s going on in the hood’. One of the most powerful lines delivered in the history of film, in my humble opinion and I’m sure many of you who have watched Boyz N The Hood will agree. Spoken by the character Doughboy (played by rapper/actor Ice Cube in his first acting role), a drug dealer/gang-banger, he was referring to life in the crime ridden district of South Central L.A, a vicious cycle that leaves a lot for young black men with the mentality of kill or be killed.