straight outta compton

Straight Outta Compton’s Going Straight to the TOP

Straight_Outta_Compton-movie-posterIt’s not everyday that a major studio backs a predominately black movie, with almost no name actors in the lead role, carry a movie about one of the most influential and controversial rap groups of all time. It may also help that two of the producers, Ice Cube and Dr. Dre are power players in the music and film industry, and two of the core members of the group that this film is about.

The film is about the five members of N.W.A., but mainly focuses on the core three, Eric ‘Eazy-E’ Wright (played brilliantly by up and coming actor Jason Mitchell), O’Shea ‘Ice Cube’ Jackson (played by Ice Cube’s actual son, O’Shea Jackson, Jr.) and Andre ‘Dr. Dre’ Young (played by Non-Stop’s Corey Hawkins), who solidified the group’s power as the face, the rapper and the producer, with Lorenzo ‘MC Ren’ Patterson (played by former Leverage actor Aldis Hodge) and Antoine ‘DJ Yella’ Carraby (played by Battle: Los Angeles’ Neil Brown, Jr) supporting the three leads on the stage and in the studio.

At the beginning, Eazy is in his early twenties, selling dope on the streets of Compton, trying to get by, slowly getting tired of the lifestyle. Cube is a high school senior, yearning to use his gift of writing rhymes and rapping to better his life. Dre is a twenty year old musical genius, but a struggling DJ and

beat maker, trying to establish his own sound and make an impact in the music world. Each of them deal

with police brutality on a daily basis, due to the racism shown by the police department and the gang

violence and crime in their Compton neighborhood. One day, Dre gets the idea of starting a group,

knowing Eazy has money after bailing him out of jail due to a fight he got in protecting his younger

brother Tyree (Keith Powers). Eazy is skeptical, especially when Dre asks him to be a rapper in the group

while Dre and Yella take care of the music aspect, and Cube would be the main writer with some

assistance from Ren. When Eazy begins enjoying the feel and attention he gets as a rapper, he quickly

becomes the face of the group. Eazy then meets rich record producer and manager Jerry Heller (played by

the always great Paul Giamatti), who helps the group book shows and get their records off the ground.

Quickly, the group becomes well known and controversial, taking hip hop beyond break dancing and

glamour rap of the early 80’s. The more popular the group gets, the more tension begins to rise. After the

success of their first two albums and Eazy’s solo album, Cube begins noticing that Eazy and Jerry are

making more money then the rest of the group and after an argument with Jerry over his contract, Cube

leaves the group to start his solo career. After a heated feud begins between the group and Cube, and

Cube easily winning with his hit song No Vaseline (one of the best scenes in the movie by the way), Dre

begins realizing Eazy and Jerry have been taking advantage of them, and after getting assistance from the

intimidating and notorious record producer Suge Knight (played by R. Marcus Taylor), leaves Eazy’s

label to join Death Row Records where he helps make the label huge, creating his masterpiece The

Chronic, and make stars out of Snoop Dogg (played by Selma and Dope’s Keith Stanfield) and Tupac

Shakur (played by newcomer Marcc Rose). A few years pass and Eazy realizes he needs to cut ties with

Jerry and yearns to get the group back together, making amends with Cube and Dre (Ren and Yella never

left Eazy’s side) but soon finds out that he has AIDS and a few months later dies, being named ‘The

Godfather of Gangsta Rap’. Right after Eazy’s death, Dre leaves Death Row to start his label Aftermath

where he makes superstars out of Snoop Dogg, Eminem and 50 Cent, also being named one of the biggest

and richest music producers of all time. Ice Cube has become a star player in the film industry, being an

actor, producer and writer, and still continues to rap to this day. MC Ren continues to rap only locally in

Compton but still a name in the industry. DJ Yella switched his endeavors and became a director of porno

movies, shooting almost 200 of them.

This film hit me hard. I am a struggling screenwriter/actor/filmmaker myself, and the yearning

they wanted to provide for their families and make an impact is exactly how I feel having come so close

with screenplays of my own in the industry and to continue being rejected, this film shows that anything

is possible. F. Gary Gray already has a great filmography, but he already knows these streets after

shooting the classic Friday and Set It Off. He captures the essence, the grit, grime, glamour, all of the

elements that needed to be put in this film to make it work. It speaks to the audience, regardless of the

background, but obviously more relatable in the black and hip hop communities, but in the theater I was

in it was very mixed with a lot of white collard, middle aged white man who sang the songs in the theater

with everyone else and I thought that was great. The police brutality scenes were hard to watch with

everything going on now with cops shooting black people in communities around the country. Almost

like 1988 was still happening, but sadly, it never went away. That was a point F. Gary Gray was trying to

make I think. The music pulsated and was just another character in the film. Capturing 1986-1996, they

did that on point. It’s almost like going back in a time warp.

In the end, my only negative thing to say about the movie is that it had to end. I am a huge fan of

biopics as well as films dealing with the hood and great character dramas. This takes the cake. To be a rap

group that was hated by everyone damn near including the government, to have a biopic come out 25

years later is a huge accomplishment. I am proud to say that I’ll pay the money I have to, to see this film

again. May this inspire not only rappers and filmmakers, but people in general who have a dream,

regardless of the color of their skin. Number 1 at the box office this weekend.

 

 

keith stanfield

In Keith We Trust: On The Rise in Hollywood

By Randall Rydell Russell

keith stanfield-short term 12

Keith Stanfield, heard of him before? He’s a young black actor who has worked with Don

Cheadle, F. Gary Gray, Michael K. Williams, and countless others, plus he’s a rapper. Here’s the scoop

about Mr. Stanfield.

From Victorville, California where he pursued his rap career, Keith was bitten by the acting bug

and appeared in a few plays but wanted to make the transition to film. He appeared in the short film

Short Term 12, where he believed his career would take off. It didn’t. He was passed over during many

auditions and had to take regular 9-5 jobs to make ends meet. He threw his aspirations to be an actor

out the window and just worked and made a couple rap tracks here and there.

Then, in 2012, he got the a call from the director of Short Term 12 who was telling him he was

making a feature out of the short and wanted Keith to reprise his role. Keith became the only actor from

the short to return for the feature. The feature did great in the indie world and a mass audience was

able to see the type of actor Keith is.

After that role, Keith was given a role as a villain in the action sequel The Purge: Anarchy

alongside Frank Grillo, Michael K. Williams and Edwin Hodge (the only actor to return from the original

film). He then portrayed Jimmie Lee Jackson in the historical biopic Selma.

Next for Keith, he will be starring alongside actor/director Don Cheadle in the Miles Davis biopic

Miles Ahead. Memoria alongside James Franco and Straight Outta Compton, the N.W.A. biopic directed

by F. Gary Gray where Keith will portray a young Snoop Dogg and appear alongside a group of young

black actors including Ice Cube’s son (whose playing Ice Cube) and Paul Giamatti who will play Jerry

Heller, the manager for the group.

From having the worst time finding work, to being in demand with some of the best names in

the industry, Keith Stanfield is going to make sure that you remember his name for many years to

come.

vh1 logo

Why Some VH1 Shows Need To Be Seriously Boycotted!

bet networks

Okay I am glad that is a new year! And with that I would like to see a change in the viewing of African Americans on TV. VH1 and possibly BET show some of the most degrading sitcoms on TV. My beef with BET is that is no longer black owned. I am truly furious with the way VH1 portrays blacks on their network. Back in the day you couldn’t catch a black on their channel. But now they have re formatted their programming to show nothing but reality shows targeting the African American community which do anything but showcase us in a positive light. With VH1 producing shows like, Tiny and Shekinah Weave Trip,” “Bye Felicia, Sorority Sisters and the love and hip hop “Love & Hip Hop Series,” is the epitome of wretchedness.  The term ‘Bye Felicia’ came from a hashtag that was trending on social media and even earlier then that Felicia came from the Ice Cube neighborhood classic film, “Friday,” Which proves no originality coming from writers and creators of TV Shows anymore. I am really tired of seeing weak minded women fighting and crying over a man that is not that into them. That seems to be the norm on reality TV, black women with too much weave, horrible plastic surgery.and bad attitudes.

screenshot of Friday
This is where Bye Felicia originally came from!

The most recent show that has everyone in an uproar is the new Mona Scott Young show, “Sorority Sisters,” which has upset people because they feel like it makes a mockery of Black Sorority Organizations.  Which I agree because organizations especially Greek organizations are suppose to be sacred and about community, leadership and sisterhood. But these young ladies are anything but….and as a black woman myself I am tired of seeing black women fighting and being caddy to one another. I feel this is the reason why African Americans can’t be respected in the world because of how we are portrayed on television. Also shows like Maury Povich doesn’t make black men or women look any better either.  I think the whole entire programming department needs to be reformatted. Even shows like Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder show black women in power sleeping with men. There are no family shows like The Cosby’s (even Bill is in hot water right now) Nothing is how it use to be in the 90s, not music or TV. If we could go back to quality productions with skilled writers and actors, and musicians, we could change for the better. .

mike epps and kevin hart

Comedian Vs Comedian

By Randall Rydell Russell

A few weeks ago, something strange came over the world wide web that took everyone by a strange surprise. Comedians Mike Epps and Kevin Hart began beefing on Twitter, which each one got to get a lot off of their chest, and it didn’t stop.

Mike Epps was on a radio interview saying that he felt Kevin Hart is over hyped and a pretty much ‘Hollywood’ owned comedian who is a by the numbers comedian and actor who is just hot at the moment. Any person in any part of the entertainment industry had heard that being said about themselves would take that as an insult.

Kevin Hart then took to Twitter to personally tell Mike Epps that he is just jealous that Kevin Hart’s career is much larger than his and Mike Epps hasn’t been hot since the mid 2000’s which sadly is very true.

Mike Epps first was seen on screen in the little known Vin Diesel film Strays which was written, directed, produced and starred Vin Diesel in 1997. Epps played one of Diesel’s friends. Epps truly made a name for himself when he appeared as Day Day Jones in Next Friday, the cousin to Ice Cube’s character Craig. He received rave reviews and became a household name. He also appeared with Ice Cube in All About The Benjamins, Friday After Next, Janky Promoters, and Lottery Ticket as well as other pictures where he’s played the comic relief but also some dramatic roles. His strong suit is his comic career where he is quite the character.

Kevin Hart began in the comic world where he would be on shows like Comicview and Comedy Central Presents. In 2004, he starred with Snoop Dogg in Soul Plane and several supporting roles in film and television. His comic appearances and movies sell out theatres. His film career began to take off when he made the film Think Like A Man which was a box office success. He recently appeared in Ride Along alongside frequent Mike Epps collaborator Ice Cube. The film was a huge success and he has several other films slated for release this summer including Think Like A Man Too.

This beef is almost juvenile but for both of their careers and the tabloids it’s a gold mine. Both of these comedians are great in my book. Mike Epps is more street, Kevin Hart’s is more commercial, but each has their own swag that works for the stage and film. Mike Epps has cooled off and not been seen in a major film in quite some time, while Kevin Hart has already had three movies released in the past six months and two more to go. It’d be nice for them to cool the beef so that Ice Cube can finally do a Last Friday and bring another comedian by the name of Chris Tucker back into the mix so that all these different forms of comedy can grace the screen. We need to do better.