Straight Outta Compton Review

Straight Outta Compton

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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.

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The 10 Best Band Names

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Editor’s note: It’s a slow week in music, so we figured we would revisit one of our favorite lists we have done, our very favorite band names.

Band names are a highly subjective topic for a top ten list.  Some people are more partial to goofy names (Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. anybody).  Some people dig simplicity (Cream).  And some people even have a penchant for alliteration (Modest Mouse).  We try to give every type of name its due on our list, but alas, a list of ten is far too short to honor all of the creative, funny, and bold names the creative geniuses throughout time have come up with.  Enjoy our list for what it is, and we’d love to hear your favorites in the comments.  Godspeed.
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Top Ten Thursday: Best Solo Careers

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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

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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.
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