Viewed – 23 January 2015 Online rental
Yes I’m mopping up the left overs from last year I probably should have got around to seeing. This biopic of the notorious rap group was high on my radar but I didn’t get to see it for one reason or another. So I jumped on the chance when it turned up for rental. This charts the small beginnings, the eventual rise to fame (or infamy) and the gradual descent of N.W.A. which went on to launch the careers of Ice Cube and Dr Dre.
Directed by F. Gary Gray (The Negotiator) this is a respectful and very well observed drama that is particularly well cast by mostly unknown actors filling the rather big shoes of famed rap legends … and doing one hell of a job; most notably Ice Cube’s own son O’Shea Jackson Jr playing his Dad! But the strongest turns come in the form of a complex Jason Mitchel as the late Easy-E and also Paul Giamatti as their mentor / manager. I was glad to see this didn’t shy away from the tougher aspects of the band’s rise to fame, with Police harassment, racism and violence constantly rearing it’s head (with an inclusion of the Rodney King incident). However I quickly began to think that neither side was right in some of their actions; the Police portrayed as always out to arrest black minorities regardless of what they’ve done … and the band and those closet to them portrayed as angry young men out to prove themselves whilst at the same time making themselves look and sound just like the gangsters the Police take issue with. Their own worst enemy you might say. Yet the bravado, attitude and simple ‘two finger’ salute to the man was a riot to watch play out (getting arrested at a gig, their album being burnt in the streets, being threatened by the FBI).
At the end of the day also, this bands eventual influence on a generation of artists including Snoop Dogg, Tupac and Eminem can’t be dismissed. For me also, even though not a major enthusiast of rap, the tunes this band came up with just kick all sorts of ass. As a classic rags to riches story, think back to the rise and fall of The Sex Pistols and you’ll get an idea where this one hits hardest. Thoroughly entertaining and very well acted, making this a must see.
Verdict: 5 /5