Straight Outta Compton
If you would told me one of the 10 biggest R-rated movies of all time was an N.W.A. biopic, I’d never believe you. But clearly the original gangster rappers struck a chord with a generation, and also our moment in time.
N.W.A.’s best known members, Beats billionaire Dr. Dre and gangster rapper extraordinaire turned family man Ice Cube, produced the film, and you can tell they had a roll shaping the narrative. Despite not having the cleanest record, each member comes up looking pretty clean, even though there’s plenty that will tell you otherwise. Even if that’s the case, almost every biopic is pretty celebratory and forgiving of its subjects, so Straight Outta Compton is no exception in this case.
The most interesting character in the film is also its central character, the late Eazy E. Eric Lynn Wright aka Eazy E is played brilliantly by Jason Mitchell, his first major role but one that won’t be his last. He captures the erratic, troubled, but good natured E. He plays an interesting opposite to Paul Giamatti’s Jerry Heller, N.W.A’s original manager who helped Eazy E start his own label, Ruthless Records. It seems like Giamatti has played this angry antagonist role a lot lately, but this is certainly is one of his most interesting roles: clearly caring for Eazy E but also certainly willing to take advantage of him. In most movies, they would make Heller a downright villain, but here, director F. Gary Gray depicts the truly complicated relationship that likely existed.
Straight Outta Compton certainly couldn’t have been released at a better time, as N.W.A’s fight against racial discrimination from the police is the top of the mind for many. The film depicts this sort of discrimination from the police in a scene that’s the impetus for writing “F**k the Police”. While I think in many ways they make this moment look more righteous and purposeful than it likely was, it certainly does well to spell out the importance of the song’s existence.
At a 2.5 hour runtime, I usually have a tough time paying attention. Straight Outta Compton is surprisingly entertaining throughout, even without any major storyline that carries from start to finish. While a bit cheesy and cleaned up at times, Straight Outta Compton is a great resource for understanding the history and importance of N.W.A.
In September of 2011, Wes, Austin, and I took a Facebook thread that we used to vent and express our opinions on current music to each other, and transferred it to this music blog. For some reason, people decided to read what we wrote. Now two years later we are still doing it. Typing out our thoughts on albums, describing our favorite songs as of recent, and making these lists on a weekly basis has become a part of our lively routine. So we thank all of you that are actually reading these posts of mindless musical dribble for making our opinions seem as if they actually matter. Now, as is tradition, we will celebrate with a list. In our debut list, we gave you our favorite debut albums. Approaching our second year, we made the sophomore albums list. Now as we approach our third year, we present to you this week’s list: our favorite albums of the third kind. Simply put, this is a list of what we consider to be the best third album put out by any band or artist. Thanks for your continued support, and we hope you enjoy:
10. Modest Mouse – The Moon & Antarctica
Continue reading “Top Ten Thursday: Best Albums of the Third Kind”
After dropping our Review Royale of the new Justin Timberlake album this week, we thought it would be a good idea to tackle artists that have gone solo for our list this week. We already broke down the best albums released by an artist after going solo in honor of Jack White releasing his first solo record. So we thought, “Why not just look at solo artists career as a whole, after leaving their band/group.” Easy enough to find plenty to pick from, but exceedingly difficult to pick just ten for this particular list. We had to axe a couple that simply didn’t have enough solo material to justify putting them above more established solo musicians (Dan Auerbach and Jack White). We just can’t be sure which direction people with just one solo album will go. Back to the band or keep going on their own. Either way, there were some very tough cuts, but we think we came away with a list worthy of your attention. Enjoy, and let us know who we missed, left off, or shouldn’t have included at all.
10. Justin Timberlake
Following the “hiatus” of ‘N Sync in 2002, JT quickly released his solo debut Justified. I know of at least a few sophomores and juniors in high school who couldn’t resist the former boy-bander’s cool pop sound. Little did we all know, Justified would serve as merely a bridge to even more progressive and layered pop sounds. FutureSex/LoveSounds and The 20/20 Experience have done more than show off JT’s love of the backslash, affirming Timberlake as pop icon.
Continue reading “Top Ten Thursday: Best Solo Careers”
Killer Mike aptly describes R.A.P. Music when his first line explodes out of the speakers. “Hardcore G s**t, homie, I don’t play around”. This is not exactly my first introduction to Killer Mike, but is the first time I have decided to experience a full Killer Mike record. If Killer Mike isn’t ringing a bell, you may remember him from guesting on Outkast’s “Snappin’ & Trappin'”, or maybe better from his single off his debut album, “A.D.I.D.A.S“. Whether you were familiar or not with Killer Mike before R.A.P. Music, he is a name that deserves attention after his latest offering.
Continue reading “Killer Mike Review: R.A.P. Music”
The amount of venom spit by Todd and Wes toward Dr. Dre’s late-millennium masterwork The Chronic 2001 had me all kinds of worked up last week. In fact, there was a lot of hate aimed towards Dre that was simply baffling to me. Despite the wide-ranging barbs directed at Dr. Dre, I would like to limit the scope of this post to The Chronic 2001, the main reason being that I think this album is the true culmination of all of Dre’s talents and far superior to The Chronic (1992 edition). So instead of writing ten thousand words, and including arguments about how the careers of Ice Cube, Eminem, Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent, etc. essentially sprouted from Dre’s fertile loins, I will try to stay on point. Not that there would be any appreciation by Todd or Wes of Ice Cube. Cube didn’t get killed by firearm like Biggy or Tupac, so white kids in the 90’s didn’t pay attention to him (note: blows Tupac out of the water). But, I digress. I’m also going to try to stay away from arguments about why Dr. Dre is still musically relevant. I think the 2010 killer single, “I Need A Doctor”, speaks for itself.
So what I’m going to do is start addressing particular comments, starting with the most fair, and advancing to the most absurd, trying to limit my comments as much as possible to The Chronic 2001 and ripping on Todd and Wes.
Continue reading “In Defense of: The Chronic 2001”