Breathe in the authentically beautifully honest biopic: Straight Outta Compton.
I walked out of the movie repeating the three words swinging, thumping, dancing through my head for the past two hours– Niggers With Attitude.
I am reminded of Ralph Ellison’s definition of the Blues. The blues, says Ellison, “. . . is an impulse to keep the painful details and episodes of a brutal experience alive in one’s aching consciousness . . . As form, the blues is an autobiographical chronicle of personal catastrophe expressed lyrically.”
Straight Outta Compton is life lived; its autobiographical theme is lyrically porous. The language, the lives, the stories bleed inside the brain pouring into the soul self. I feel those black boys; I feel their desire to be accepted and understood. And yet, at one point as I visually experienced the movie, I whispered, “Gosh we must take that “nigger” word off the table. It was put on us like “ugly” was put on Toni Morrison’s Pecola Breedlove. Black people must take that word off of the table and throw it in a trashcan. And yet, Straight Outta Compton forces me to feel empathy for Black Americas who seem to record the pain of living and being in a racially abusive America by accepting using the word the master “put on” the Black American—nigger.
Straight Outta Compton is also a history lesson in what has become one of America’s cultural markers: Hip-hop. One of the most important lessons garnered from the movie is this: The voices in Hip-hop are not monolithic; however, what is monolithic is a clarion purpose—to be authentic about lived experiences. I love that!
Straight Outta Compton is a blues-like portrayal of three young men who wanted to share their stories (sometimes painful) through music and poetry. Indeed, they are examples of the American success story—the myth and reality. That is, indeed, a collard green moment. AMEN!