Straight Outta Compton: biopic on N.W.A. has relevance in Seattle

When the avid hip-hop listener thinks of the rap group N.W.A, they think of the second track from the group’s debut album, “Straight Outta Compton.” “Fuck Tha Police” expressed a strong opposition for the police in California’s most dangerous inner-cities. It also seemed to foreshadow events to come.

“Straight Outta Compton” was directed by F. Gary Gray, who made the movie “Friday” with N.W.A group member Ice Cube and has collaborated with many musicians on music videos. Actors Corey Hawkins, Aldis Hodge, Jason Mitchell and O’Shea Jackson Jr. play the founding group members Dr. Dre, MC Ren, Eazy-E, with Jackson playing the role of his father, Ice Cube.

The film follows the group’s influential mark on hip-hop while acknowledging the historical time in Los Angeles that inspired their music’s tone. The movie is set to hit theaters Aug. 14.

This biopic comes at an important time. The events in Ferguson, MO, last year brought to the surface national conversations concerning police perception in black communities. After the death of an unarmed Mike Brown, protests in major cities demanded justice and mutual recognition for black lives.

And incidents between people of color and police, including several in Seattle, have made the viewpoints of N.W.A. all the more relevant 27 years after their double platinum album “Straight Outta Compton” was released.

What a lot of people don’t realize about N.W.A., it’s non-violent protest,” Ice Cube says in his introduction to the biopic’s trailer.

Hip-hop has always had a significant stake in black activism. For youth these songs have become the new chants and spirituals and the new soundtrack to what they are experiencing.

The political agenda in N.W.A’s music only spoke for what suppressed black communities feel toward police authority. N.W.A was labeled as “gangsta rap” for their stories exposing street culture, but the vulgar language they used in their lyrics only connected to their younger audience and continues to influence political rappers today like Kendrick Lamar.

In Seattle, relationships between black communities and police are also under scrutiny, after Seattle Police Officer Cynthia Whitlatch came under investigation after the questionable arrest of an elderly black man using a golf club as a walking stick. Later, her racially charged Facebook posts surfaced, and she was put on paid leave.

Whitlatch is now under investigation by the Seattle Police Department’s Office of Professional Accountability, which handles citizen complaints.

Seattle Police spokesman Det. Drew Fowler said the office assigns investigators to cases brought by the public to establish whether the officers acted appropriately.

He understands a cultural-shift to be responsible for police officers more transparent online presence.

Fowler said that times have changed and officers are still navigating their online voice.

”It’s not super linear because of free speech,” Fowler said.

Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole is now drafting a social-media policy for officers to follow.

1 Comment

  1. It depends on how you see it
    How you view it, how you perceive it
    It is what you make of it
    The reality of the truth in it
    Is it the means of how it is partaken
    Or maybe it is how an identity is mistaken
    In how it is viewed in the media
    Profiled to profanity
    Reasons of insanity
    That dictate immortality for death
    And the surreal images of sobriety
    In reality people are dying
    People are crying
    People are denying the truth
    Of racial profiling is killing our race
    People are protesting
    Against police brutality
    Of man slaughtering
    Within decades in our communities
    Some see it
    Some don’t believe in it
    Some deny it as just cause
    But to be perceived as a movement
    Of immorality, a formality of reasons
    To be recognized with negative sobriety
    Of judgment that is deterrent of reasons
    To be misunderstood for what some conceive
    Labeled as ignorance in our streets
    NWA of ignorance if you know the difference
    It’s no different than now
    As we know it as incognizant to relevance
    The life of a black man on the streets
    Is a procurement to industrialized slavery
    We must not lose focus on our cause

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