It is not a surprise that the film Straight Outta Compton has had great success at the box office. To many hip hop heads, this biopic about NWA, one of the most pivotal and provocative groups in hip hop history, is long overdue. However, it wouldn’t be an NWA film without controversy. In this article, Dr. Billye Sankofa Waters responds to the film from her personal and scholarly platforms.
I recognize the social significance and lyrical contributions of NWA; I grew up as a young girl under their watch. As a matter of fact, most of the hip hop/rap I first listened to was from the West Coast and I often found myself caught between wanting to be a “bad bitch” or a “gangsta bitch” (but of course never a “hoe bitch” or a “crack bitch”).
Now, as a grown woman, I felt very conflicted about going to see this movie. In the past few months leading up to the release, we’ve all been reminded of the remarkable contributions Dr. Dre and Ice Cube have made in the entertainment industry – e.g. bringing the West Coast into the hip hop conversation, discovering/producing talent such as Eminem, Snoop, and Kendrick, showing a universal evolution from “niggaz wit attitudes” to daddies with family-friendly adventures who make million-dollar industry deals. The latter contribution is the most brilliant and impressive.