N.W.A.’s message in ‘Compton’ film still resonates

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N.W.A.’s message in ‘Compton’ film still resonates

LOS ANGELES - The director of “Straight Outta Compton’’ says he’s “very happy with the accuracy’’ of the movie that depicts the creation and eventual breakup of influential rap group N.W.A.

F. Gary Gray says he relied on accounts from surviving members of the Southern California group, including credited producers Ice Cube and Dr. Dre, for key details and scenes in the film, due in theaters Friday. But he acknowledged in an interview at the movie’s premiere Monday night that notable moments from N.W.A.’s history aren’t in the film.

“Obviously you can only do so much when you have two hours and 10 years and five guys in one movie, but I’m very happy with the accuracy, especially given that I got it from the members of N.W.A,’’ Gray said. “If it was something that I just Googled or got it from Wikipedia then it would maybe be a little bit questionable. But Ice Cube was there every day. Dr. Dre was there every day. It doesn’t get any better than that.’’

Early reviews have been largely positive. But “Compton’’ has faced criticism online for failing to directly address the group’s sometimes-misogynist lyrics and Dr. Dre’s 1991 attack on journalist Dee Barnes at a Hollywood nightclub. Gray said he was aware of the incident and the publicity it generated, but “this movie is about N.W.A.’’

“It’s about the group, the rise of the group and the subsequent following of the group and you can make five N.W.A. movies with all the information that is out there,’’ he said.

Rapper MC Ren, who along with DJ Yella is credited as an “N.W.A. consultant’’ on the movie, said he had no complaints about the film’s content.

“They could have put me more in the trailers you know but the movie is good. If E was here, he would like it so it’s cool,’’ he said, referring to Eazy-E, who died of complications from AIDS in 1995.

The film’s premiere Monday night coincided with renewed protests and conflict in Ferguson, Missouri, over the police killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown. MC Ren said he stands behind the group’s incendiary 1988 song “(Expletive) tha Police,’’ which is featured in the film.

“It’s never going to change. ... As long as you have people that think they are better than other people and they still look at us as slaves, it ain’t going to change,’’ he said.

These days, Ice Cube is a bona fide movie star and producer who counts family fare such as “Are We There Yet?’’ (2005) among his many screen credits. Dr. Dre is a celebrated producer who sold his Beats brand to Apple for $3 billion last year.

“The image of the outlaw was how they were identified,’’ said Prof. Todd Boyd, an expert in race and popular culture who teaches at the University of Southern California. “Over time, things that were considered the domain of the outlaw became mainstream American culture.’’

Still, Cube and others involved in making the “Straight Outta Compton’’ film say N.W.A. was never a group of outlaws, but artists determined to speak their minds and air what they saw as injustices in their community. AP
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