Rapping story that hits the right notes ...

Undated Film Still Handout from Straight Outta Compton. See PA Feature FILM Reviews. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Jaimie Trueblood/Universal. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature FILM Reviews.

Undated Film Still Handout from Straight Outta Compton. See PA Feature FILM Reviews. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Jaimie Trueblood/Universal. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature FILM Reviews.

0
Have your say

Whenever Hollywood immortalises pages from history at 24 frames per second, it’s wise to treat each lustrous dramatisation with a pinch of salt.

Rigorous factual accuracy is often sacrificed at the altar of artistic licence.

In the case of F. Gary Gray’s engrossing film, you will need to grab bulging fistfuls of sodium chloride.

Not only are two of the key protagonists of this rags to musical riches biopic listed as executive producers, one of the men - rapper turned actor Ice Cube - is portrayed on screen by his own son.

The faint whiff of nepotism is overpowered by heady fumes of whitewash from Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff’s script, which neglects to address accusations of misogyny and homophobia levelled at California hip hop collective N.W.A.

Regardless of the rosy tint to director Gray’s lens, Straight Outta Compton is a fascinating portrait of youthful exuberance, raw ambition and racial divide.

The film opens in 1986 with pals Dr Dre (Corey Hawkins), Eazy-E (Jason Mitchell), Ice Cube (O’Shea Jackson Jr), MC Ren (Aldis Hodge) and DJ Yella (Neil Brown Jr) searching for an outlet for their creativity.

Tensions are high between police and black youths - random stop and searches are an unwelcome part of neighbourhood life.

“I’m the only gangster round here,” snarls one officer.

With gentle persuasion from his buddies, Eazy-E sets up his own label, Ruthless Records, and the group’s first release Boyz-n-the-Hood piques the interest of Jerry Heller (Paul Giamatti).

He sweet talks Eazy-E into becoming the band’s manager.

“What does N.W.A. stand for? No Whites Allowed?” asks Jerry naively.

An electrifying live performance leads to a deal with Priority Records founded by Bryan Turner (Tate Ellington). Ice Cube grows increasingly concerned about Easy-E’s close working relationship with Heller and the absence of contracts for the rest of the group.

He eventually leaves and goes solo, sparking a bitter war of rhymes between the former band mates.

Ice Cube aligns himself with Suge Knight (R Marcus Taylor) and together they establish Death Row Records.

Meanwhile, Dr Dre also turns his back on Easy-E and N.W.A.

Straight Outta Compton might run to a holler short of two-and-a-half hours but Gray’s film has sufficient swagger to hold our attention.