Hip Hop, Hollywood Opportunism, and the Power of NWA

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Number 1 at the Box Office for three weeks in a row. 60 million in its opening weekend. Highest grossing music biopic of all time. Black. Unapologetic. Successful. Surprising? Shouldn’t be.

If you know Hip-Hop, you know the story of NWA, Rodney King, the LA riots, the West versus East Coast beef, the reputation of Suge Knight, and the importance of absolutely nailing that Tupac scene. If you think you know Hip-Hop, you have a few De La Soul tracks on your iTunes (but never a whole album), tell everyone J. Cole is your favorite rapper when you started listening to him in 2013, have a Tupac and Biggie playlist you put on when you’re feeling nostalgic, rock an Illmatic graphic tee from time to time, and you recently moved to Brooklyn.

Hipster Trap
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Sorry, got distracted by the hipsters. They’re everywhere.

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Straight Outta Compton has raked in $150+ million dollars so far and has really revived the lure of the early 90s. As of now, there are two movies being shopped around Hollywood solely off the strength of Compton’s performance this year: one is a Tupac biopic that has been trying to get off the ground for some time now. The bigger, and quite frankly more enticing movie is Welcome To Death Row, based on the documentary and eventual book of the same name about the rise of Dr. Dre, Snoop, Pac and the most notorious record label of all time. Throw in the most feared person in the music industry and it sounds like dollar signs for movie studios, pure entertainment and elation for fans, and (hopefully) solace for old school purists.

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Welcome To Death Row is almost full steam ahead and is attached to today’s success to the point of officially being crafted as the sequel to Straight Outta Compton. No definitive word on the actors from Compton reviving their roles, but reports aren’t sounding too good for them. After positive reviews on their performances, it seems strange to me that they wouldn’t bring back a few of them. Guess we’ll have to see if the studio gets too full of themselves and ruins a good thing. I’m just hoping they show some love to pioneering female MCs like Queen Latifah, Lil Kim, Mary J., Foxy Brown or due right by many victims and highlight the injustices done by Dr. Dre and other men who couldn’t keep their hands off of women such as Dee Barnes. I can’t say that I’m mad they left out those aspects of NWA, but I’m definitely disappointed they didn’t include a shred of that negative press.

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NWA set in motion such a hard movement from LA to NY. It didn’t matter if you were a kid from the South Bronx or South Central, you were riding hard for Fuck the Police. Everything was Nuttin but a G Thang. We were all going through Changes. Now it seems Hollywood has realized that they’ve stumbled across a powerful and engaging era of Hip-Hop history. Garnering an impressive and unexpected 89% rating on Rotten Tomatoes will turn many heads and green light a sequel with the quickness, so we should expect some heat after Straight Outta Compton murdered it at the box office. What do you guys think of the follow up? Tryna get down or naa?

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  • Ja-Quan is a NYC teacher and artist holding a B.A. in Sociology and History from SUNY New Paltz. On his journey to become Hokage, the Lord of The Speed Force and Protector of the Recaps can be found North of The Wall, chopping it up on Twitter @OGquankinobi

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