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Straight Outta… A Few Thoughts on the NWA Movie

I finally saw “Straight Outta Compton” this past weekend. It took me a while to get over the casting call debacle (the list categories has a story of its own), and the thought of reliving the betrayal I felt back in the day watching Hip Hop change from one of party and love to a tone of anger, hate, and disrespect toward Black women in America. I grew up listening to Queen Latifah, Lyte, Monie Love, Shante, Salt N Pepa, etc., all strong feminine voices in Hip Hop, but it seems like once Gangsta Rap took over that strong female rap energy was shelved indefinitely. I watched slowly as female rap became a carnival sideshow with chicks dressing and rapping like the bitches and hoes gangsta rap told them to be. WTF happened? Black women went from having choreographed dance routines and rhyming about respect, to sliding down poles, rapping half naked, and selling a$$. No disrespect to anyone who makes their living doing these things, but I’m not sure how that furthered the rap game for us. Female Rap hadn’t even got a foothold in the industry good before it received an involuntary makeover. It wasn’t until the 90’s when a few actually came with some bars again and made me feel there was hope yet. Unfortunately, we (female rappers) still haven’t recovered entirely, but if anything the world has recognized that the one-dimensional female emcee no longer exists (I hope). Okay, this post isn’t to be about female rap, but it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t mention it in this context.

Anyway- misogyny, anger and freedom of speech aside, I enjoyed the NWA movie. “Straight Outta Compton” made me realize that no matter how much of an impact your music makes, at the end of the day you can still suffer from the same problems as every other up and coming rapper in the music game (no/bad contracts, people f*cking with your money, vultures eating off your creativity, chaos in the studio, falling out with friends, etc.). Most rap talent who had a small taste of industry success can relate to all of that and worse, whether you blew up or not. In a strange way (go with me on this), you could say NWA {and Two Live Crew for that matter}, paved the way for rap civil rights – think ‘rap lyrics matter if you will’- at least in the eyes of the FCC.  You see, once upon a time you could turn on the radio and actually by shocked by some of the lyrics you heard. Politicians were appalled and felt the need to intervene in the music. Not these days. Today urban and pop radio is littered with all kinds of crass content and lewd lyrics that politicians (and parents) could care less about. Decide for yourself if that’s a good thing or not.

Straight Outta Compton Movie
Movie Poster