"Straight Outta Compton" — and by way of Hollywood — the new trailer has arrived for director F. Gary Gray's film about the rise and fall of the seminal gangsta rap group N.W.A.
Set for release Aug. 14 from Universal Pictures, "Compton" stars newcomers Corey Hawkins, O'Shea Jackson Jr. and Jason Mitchell as Dr. Dre, Ice Cube and Eazy-E, respectively, who burst onto the music scene in the mid-1980s with a sound that reflected the violence and desperation of their gang-ridden surroundings.
Hollywood has long had a fascination with music biopics — last year we got James Brown, Jimi Hendrix and the Jersey Boys — and there's no shortage of drama to be mined from N.W.A's story.
The trailer, for example, glimpses the group's humble origins: Dre is an aspiring producer and a young father, Eazy is looking for a way out of the drug game, and Cube (played by the rapper's real-life son) can't drive through his own neighborhood without getting harassed by police.
"If you had the chance to change the situation," Eazy asks, "would you take it?"
The group members do, of course, hitting the studio to record the eponymous album that propels them to super-stardom and earns them a reputation as "the world's most dangerous group." But their success and controversial lyrics also put them at odds with the police, the FBI, and critics who accuse the group of glamorizing gangs and drugs.
With the trailer's emphasis on clashes with authorities and censorship battles, "Straight Outta Compton" looks like it may follow in the footsteps of "Selma" by commenting on the current social and political landscape through a historical lens.
At one point in the trailer, Cube says to a critic, "Our art is a reflection of our reality."
As a film, "Straight Outta Compton" is similarly a work of art that reflects reality. And just as with the group's music, the question isn't necessarily how accurate the reflection is, but what it has to say.
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