When it comes to sending out a message, music is one of the most powerful means of communication. Some like to use violence or force but never underestimate the power that music can have. Straight Outta Compton charts the story of one hip-hop group who would go down in history as one of the most vocal and influential groups in the history of music. That group is N.W.A. 

When five friends; Dr. Dre (Corey Hawkins), Ice Cube (O'Shea Jackson Jr.), Eazy-E (Jason Mitchell), DJ Yella (Neil Brown Jr.) and MC Ren (Aldis Hodge), combined their musical talents and formed N.W.A in 1986, they revolutionised the genre of hip-hop forever.

With the help of manager, Jerry Heller (Paul Giamatti), N.W.A were signed by Priority Records and released their debut album, Straight Outta Compton, in 1988. The album caused controversy upon release and gave N.W.A the reputation of being the most dangerous group in the world.

Their lyrics were said to be disrespectful of women while glorifying the criminal lifestyle and even speaking out about their deep hatred towards the police. This biopic depicts the trouble N.W.A had with the police as well as the big personalities that would cause a power struggle within the group.

As well as being a great film, Straight Outta Compton is a very good biopic. With any biopic, the actors have to do justice to the public figures they are portraying and in Straight Outta Compton, the performances are of a very high standard. 

In particular, the three main performances stood out and show the passion that these actors had towards playing these iconic figures of hip-hop. Jason Mitchell is the one getting the most praise for his portrayal of Eazy-E, which is the hardest of the group to play in my opinion. There have been a few murmurs of award nominations and while I certainly think that might come at a stretch, I definitely wouldn't complain if Mitchell's performance was to get that sort of recognition.

Corey Hawkins is impressive as Dr. Dre while O'Shea Jackson Jr. proves that he bares more than just a resemblance to his father, Ice Cube, by stepping into his shoes with brilliant confidence and presence. Paul Giamatti is also worth mentioning with his supporting turn as Jerry Heller, the man who there is most definitely more to than meets the eye.

Straight Outta Compton was a real eye-opener for me when it came to N.W.A. I had no idea about what happened to cause the struggle within the group or how their run-ins with the police came about. A lengthy runtime of 147 minutes may put some people off however, with the film covering such an interesting topic and a fluid screenplay from Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff, the 147 minutes fly by pretty quickly.

I wouldn't class myself as a die hard hip-hop fan but I can appreciate the music and lyrics, all of which is made easier with some brilliantly executed musical scenes showing the group either recording their music or performing it to thousands in sold-out arenas. There is some wonderful cinematography from Matthew Libatique and the editing by Billy Fox that brings such an energy to proceedings that you, at times, might actually think you are watching the performance from the same arena.

You can sense the devotion that went into making Straight Outta Compton such a memorable experience and director F. Gary Gray really brings his A-game when it came to making the film. Gray has a history of making music videos for both Ice Cube and Dr. Dre, as well as the film Friday with Ice Cube back in 1995. Straight Outta Compton is Gray's most accomplished work yet and a film that he can be immensely proud of.

Verdict: ★★★★½


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