I bet there's a great movie to be made about NWA and the heyday of West Coast gangsta rap, but maybe it shouldn't be made by the members of NWA. Or star Ice Cube's own son as Ice Cube. It's just hard to imagine that this film, Straight Outta Compton, will be an unflinching look at the reality of NWA.
You can guarantee the cast will be spot on, appearance-wise, judging by the first picture released by Universal. From left to right we have Ice Cube and his son O'Shea Jackson Jr as Ice Cube, director F. Gary Gray and Jason Mitchell as the doomed Eazy-E and Dr. Dre and Corey Hawkins as Dr. Dre. They look right! And the fact that Ice Cube's son is old enough to play Ice Cube in his 20s is a real reminder that I probably am about halfway through my life.
Hip hop has always been self-aggrandizing and all about self-mythologizing, so it isn't the hagiography bit that bugs me with Straight Outta Compton. It's the hagiography in the form of a big studio picture. I wonder what impact modern political correctness standards will have on the portrayal of these three guys, who were ruthlessly homophobic and sexist. That's the stuff that I think will get left out; drugs and violence are cinematic and will probably be in the film (and they're things that can be cinematically overcome), but language that sounds like hate speech in 2015 (when the film is released) is harder to reconcile.
To me the appeal of acts like NWA is the same appeal of early punk acts - they're raw, they're young, they're kind of bad people. Maybe Straight Outta Compton will reflect that, but I suspect a Universal Pictures version of this story leans on tropes of substance abuse and lessons learned, not radical structure-smashing by members of the perpetual underclass.