This biopic that comes out on Friday, August 14, 2015 has come at such a pivotal time in the Black community. Straight Outta Compton depicts the monumental activism of the group Niggas Wit Attitude, whose members include Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, MC Ren, and the late Easy-E. Given that many of us were barely reading age (if born) when the group was at its height, this movie should give new life to the ways in which we choose to combat issues of injustice.
This generation of one-hit wonders and trap music does not equate to the political stances in which some “old school” music had. In my opinion, old school hip hop was the negro spirituals of its time. The message and influence is what controlled the morale of the people. Good, bad or indifferent, we owe it to ourselves to challenge ourselves to think past the beat and the latest dances and pay closer attention to what artists are saying in hopes to be empowered to change our communities.
We live in a time where we can tune out the #BlackLivesMatters movement. We don’t have to watch the news, we can scroll through Twitter and other social media, there are so many ways that we can distract ourselves from having to deal with the reality that Black bodies hold little value in society. This is a sad and depressing reality. A coping mechanism is to deviate from anything negative. We can continue to ignore it, hoping that it goes away, but in reality it only gets closer to home if we do not take a stand.
There are two goals in which I hope this movie can inspire. The first is for today’s hip hop artists to step their cookies up, so to speak, and rap about social injustices (this excludes the few artists that are already doing this). Although I like Fetty Wap, there are hella songs where I am saying “Yeaaah baby”, and nothing else. We need more substance to compliment our “ratchetness”. The final goal I hope this movie accomplishes is to enthuse young activists and local activists to use their creative outlet to spread messages about the racialized oppression and systemic racism that the Black community is facing.
As Jason Mitchell, who plays Easy-E’s character, so eloquently said in an interview with Melissa Perry-Harris, “It is not all quinoa and rutabaga.” We must challenge white folks to not only hear us, but to actually listen to our cries.