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?
‘Straight outta Compton… A crazy mutherf***** named Ice Cube, from a gang called N**** Wit Attitude!’ Blam!
When I first thought about writing this post, I questioned why my 11-year-old self was so excited to hear these opening lyrics blasting out of the speakers of my older brother’s record player for the first time. It could have been hearing a couple of ‘rude’ words so blatantly on record that made my ears perk up ? Maybe that was part of it, but truth be told I wasn’t getting hyped over swearing at that stage… After all similar language was being shouted out in my school playground near enough everyday.
Nope, from what I can recall, it was more a combination of that hardcore pulsating beat and the pure passion and sense of urgency in the voice of the speaker. It all made my head spin – but in a good way… Nah, scratch that, in a great way! At the time I didn’t know that said voice belonged to O’Shea ‘Ice Cube’ Jackson, who at the age of 17, was not much older than me. We even shared a hairstyle in the much-popular 80s do the ‘Jheri Curl’, neither of our finest moments I’m now thinking. But unlike me, Cube can be forgiven because of what came with it.
NWA, N****z with Attitude, everything from their name to their lyrics came with a ‘I don’t give a fuck’ swag firmly attached! YESSSS! *light bulb moment* That’s what it was – I heard that from the very first time! I was a young girl growing up in north west London, Kensal Green by way of Harlesden, while NWA, a group which also consisted of Andre ‘Dr Dre’ Young, Eric ‘Eazy E’ Wright, MC Ren and DJ Yella were, as the song unapologetically, announced ‘Straight Outta Compton…
NWA’s official debut album of the same name (1988) hit hard! How could it not with lyrics like that? They weren’t pretty, that’s for sure – a lot of it was damn right wrong. When someone is proclaiming… ‘So what about the bitch who got shot? Fuck her! You think I give a damn about a bitch? I ain’t a sucker!’ as Eazy did on the track, you gotta know that isn’t something you actually want to agree with. And of course I didn’t. But it was still music to me, ‘my music’ and I couldn’t help LOVING it, not the meaning of every lyric that was spat, often with more venom than a truck filled with poisonous snakes, but how it made me feel, which wasn’t violent or angry, just kinda free.
Of course it wasn’t my world or my story. I’d never even heard of Compton (in Los Angeles, USA) up until that point, but I could certainly relate to being strong, being passionate and being black and proud. That was what was inspiring to me.
Interwoven between the obscenities, there was a clear message of empowerment and standing up for yourself against those who try and bring you down. In the case of NWA, the police were a huge focus for their anger. Album cuts such as F*** Tha Police blasting police brutality and racial profiling, made NWA extremely significant in giving a large chunk of young African American men, namely those living in US ghettos across the country, a voice. They could relate. Heck a young black kid from Nottingham who had been stopped and searched by the police for no reason other than the colour of his skin could relate. I had an older brother, uncles, cousins and a dad who could directly relate.
Like a lot of hip hop music in the 80s and today, NWA also appealed to white male teens (many of them from middle-class homes). It was anthemic, the beats were addictive, the lyrics were charged and everybody wanted to be in NWA. They wore bomber jacket, shell-toe Adidas, baseball caps, neck-breaking gold rope chains and walked around like they owned the world! Well, everybody apart from moral group, politicians and the of course parents who didn’t want their kids listening to ‘that mess’. The FBI even tried to shut them down, and they were labelled ‘the world’s most dangerous group’!
NWA also spoke to young middle class females, judging by the appearance of actress Gwyneth Paltrow on the Graham Norton Show earlier this year (below).
The group’s audience was strong and this was reflective in the sales of Straight Outta Compton, which went platinum, as did their follow-up EP, Five Miles and Runnin’, which didn’t feature Ice Cube, after he left to go solo, following contract disputes.
Speaking of contracts, the one Cube refused to sign was drawn up by Eazy E, who owned Ruthless Records (co-founding it with Jerry Heller, who went on to become NWA’s manager), NWA’s label. Not many give Eazy, who passed away from complications from AIDS in 1995, props for his business acumen regarding NWA. Whether you share the view that he was shady or not, that doesn’t take away from him being one of the first hip hop players to own their own label, albeit one initially funded from money he made in his former ‘career’ as a drug dealer. The likes of Diddy and Jay-Z made that factor very cool in the 90s. But before them, following on from Russell Simmons, Eazy was also flexing as a label boss and signed acts such as D.O.C, Bones Thugs and Harmony and both Dr Dre and Ice Cube before they became NWA.
I remember having a recent debate about NWA and Public Enemy, over which was the most important group. I guess that totally depends on who you are asking. Most people I know would kiss their teeth at the mere mention of NWA being any sort of comparison to Public Enemy, and maybe for the majority they are not. But for me as much as I respect Public Enemy and wholly cherish a lot of the songs that are now stone-cold classics, NWA is a totally different monster for me, and that is all based on how I connected with them in my formative years. I guess I never had that experience with Public Enemy. Maybe as an 11-year-old who had posters of New Kids On The Block on her wall (Yes, I am a very eclectic, and WHAT???) I was looking for somewhere to channel another side of me and I found it in the music of NWA.
Whiel in the group, Dre and DJ Yella handled production, while Ice Cube and MC Ren wrote the majority of the lyrics. After they broke up in 1992, Dr Dre went on to become one of world’s most respected producers, discoverer of the world’s biggest rapper Eminem and someone who also introduced us to Snoop Dogg and made history with Death Row Records.
Ice Cube, who went on to have a handful of notable solo albums and became one of 90s rap’s most prolific voices with a solo career that will no doubt be etched in hip hop history. He then surprised a lot of people by carving out an uber successful Hollywood career as a bankable actor, producer, writer and director in both film and TV.
DJ Yella also released a solo album in 1996, called One Mo Nigga Ta Go. But these days he is best known for his successful career directing porno films, and has a whopping 150 under his belt.
Mc Ren has released five solo albums since NWA disbanded, including Kizz My Black Azz, which went platinum in 1992.
Yesterday would have been Eazy’s 47th birthday, his 20-year-old daughter, Erin ‘EB’ Wright, is now taking up the baton by releasing her own single, What I Wanna Do. Check out her story and a snippet of the single below!