Last June, when Ice Cube visited Fusion’s Miami studios on a press trip for 22 Jump Street, he casually dropped the fact that a NWA biopic was in the works. The official Red Band trailer dropped last night around the end of the East Coast showing of the Grammys, an awards-show broadcast that sparked all kinds of frank talk about rap music on social media. (On one hand, basically all of Twitter celebrated the fact that Iggy Azalea didn’t take home any awards; on the other hand, best rap album went to a late 2013 record by Eminem.)
So despite all that, major theater audiences might come face to face with a distinctly un-whitewashed slice of rap history via Straight Outta Compton. The trailer, so far, promises drama, thrills, and a dramatic arc that could keep even casual fans entertained. But hey, true stories are often the most compelling!
Here are some signs from the trailer that point to Straight Outta Compton being worth a watch:
Ice Cube and Dre, the group’s biggest surviving stars, back the project and are proud enough of the final finished project to stand behind it.
The sort of deluxe version of the trailer opens with an equally cinematic intro from Cube and Dre, driving around Compton now and considering the movie’s events in present-day context.
Also, they meet up with both the Game and Kendrick who appear to co-sign on both the legacy of NWA and the film itself.
There’s so much drama!
From a purely narrative, entertaining perspective, this trailer (and the movie itself) appears to have it all: wild parties, car chases, and musical interludes that snap based on the still-electrifying power of NWA’s music.
Here's a look at "Eazy E" in the studio!
There’s also an incredible bit of ironic foreshadowing where the matriarch of Dr. Dre's home complains he's not making money from music, and throws some cash at him. Well, we all know how that worked out.
Viewers will have to grapple with echoes of current-day conflict.
Anyone familiar with NWA’s history will know that their most infamous 1988 song “Fuck Tha Police” became a hot button after the Rodney King verdict in 1992, in a time of heightened conflict and tension between law enforcement and people of color.
Sound familiar? To kids too young to remember, or born after NWA’s heyday — and basically for everyone — it begs considering, why do things look the same as they did 20 years ago? With so many high-stature artists skirting controversy, Ice Cube and Dr. Dre deserve props for staying as unflinching as they did during the days of their group.
Arielle Castillo is Fusion's culture editor, reporting on arts, music, culture, and subcultures from the streets on up. She's also a connoisseur of weird Florida, weightlifting, and cats.