Grade A

Based on the true story of the rap group NWA (Niggaz With Attitude) that started in the 1980s and revolutionized rap, “Straight Outta Compton” is a mesmerizing movie that holds your attention with its brutal, gritty scenes, good acting, energetic concert sequences, and powerful, in your face music.

O’Shea Jackson Jr., Corey Hawkins, and Jason Mitchell portray three of the NWA founding members, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, and Eazy-E, respectively.  From the mean, gang infested streets of L.A., these young men will hone and use their talents to rise above the killing fields and forge a new path for rap that is still felt today.  Brutal cops, vicious gangbangers, a sketchy manager (played by Paul Giamatti), jealousy and infighting among NWA members, and censorship will test the bonds the group members have.  Some will get stronger, some will fall by the wayside; but their music lives on.

My most memorable, movie moment is the scene when NWA is harassed by the LAPD just for standing around a building that houses a recording studio they are using.  That harassment inspires Ice Cube to write the lyrics for the song “Fuck Tha Police.”

“Straight Outta Compton” is one of the best biopics to have come out in the past decade, filled with a raw energy that can suck you in even if you are not a fan of rap songs.  And for those who do like rap, this movie will be much more enjoyable for you.

— M