Column: Perfect timing for ‘Straight Outta Compton’

Column: Perfect timing for ‘Straight Outta Compton’
August 27
00:00 2015

In above photo: “Straight Outta Compton” movie logo (File photo)

Tevin Stinson, Chronicle Columnist

For the second straight week, “Straight Outta Compton” has owned the box office. During the first two weeks, the film has generated over $100 million. The biopic details the lives of the five members of the legendary rap group N.W.A.

The group started in 1986 in Compton, California, during a time when drug trafficking was at an all time high and African-Americans were being stopped and searched because of the way they looked or dressed.

Group members Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, DJ Yella, MC Ren and the late Eazy-E wanted to fight back against police brutality and racial profiling not by force but through their songs and lyrics.

During a time when the “Black Live Matters” movement is taking over the country, the film “Straight Outta Compton”’s timing couldn’t have been any better. N.W.A was one of the first rap groups to speak about police brutality and racial discrimination.

A number of songs by the group were banned including “F— The Police,” a song meant to tell the public how the police treat African-Americans in this country. In some cities, the group was arrested for performing the song, including in Detroit.

Before going on stage at the Joe Louis arena, police told the members of the rap group that if they performed the song, they would be arrested. The group played the song any way because they wanted the public to see how real their lyrics were. Subsequently, all members of the group and even their manager were arrested for inciting a riot.

Before N.W.A took that chance at talking about what was going on in their neighborhoods, rap music was more about being happy and having a good time. O’Shea Jackson Jr., who played his father Ice Cube in the film, said to a reporter that N.W.A rapped about what they saw when they walked out the house in the morning.

Most of the people who were against N.W.A didn’t understand what it was like growing up as a African-American male in Compton during the ’80s and are the type of people who don’t understand the “Black Lives Matter” movement.

Rap music has always been an outlet for African-Americans to have a voice to tell how they feel. Way before the Black Lives Matter movement, N.W.A showed us that our lives matter. By standing up against a system that was created to suppress African- Americans, they were willing to risk their own lives and careers to tell the truth.

Who will be our truth tellers? During a time in which African-Americans are being gunned down in the streets during routine traffic stops, artists and performers should be doing more to speak out against what we see on the news everyday. N.W.A showed us the type of impact we can make if we stand up against social and racial discrimination in 1986, but who will take that torch in 2015?

Tevin Stinson is a Chronicle reporter.

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