Straight Outta Compton: Exploitation or Entertainment?

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OP/ED by Dexter McLeod
P.C.I. People for Community Improvement
Marketing/Jobs & Educational Resources Director
South Bay CNews, Editor & Marketing Director

The Movie “Straight Outta Compton” (Universal / New Line Cinema), traces the origins of N.W.A. (an acronym for Niggaz Wit Attitudes) — the gangsta rap group Ice Cube co-founded in Compton, California, in 1987 along with original members Dr. Dre, DJ Yella, Arabian Prince and Eazy-E, who died in 1995, opens nationwide next Friday, August 14. The groundbreaking group sold millions of records and helped put West Coast rap on the map. But its members also sparked controversy for their explicit lyrics, “glamorizing gangs and drugs” and eyebrow-raising singles such as “Fu*k tha Police,” which drew condemnation from law enforcement agencies.

Of all the hard work we do in the Community to dispel the negative stereotypes and images, I feel that this movie will glorify and introduce our youth to the “Gangsta Lifestyle” we are all to familiar with. We must be conscious of the influence that Movies has over our Youth, and hold accountable Entertainers and Studios that profit from the exploitation of our pain.

Gangster rap was a political statement that expressed the frustration poor people faced, and put Compton on the map, not in a negative way, but in a bold way. In the 1980s, crack cocaine, excessive police brutality and racial profiling, cuts in education, Reagan’s War on Drugs and the freezing of the minimum wage created a horrid environment for low income communities in Los Angeles. The police were notorious among poor communities, “they’re stereotyping all young blacks that dress a certain way, as if they’re gang banging, that’s what we’re dealing with, and its unjust,” emphasized Ice Cube, “It was terrible . . . they’d take you around the building, and beat you down, then take you back,” recalled DJ Yella (N.W.A). No one stood up to these forces, not the local government, not the voters, nor the activists, but Gangster rap did.

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Compton Mayor Aja Brown said, “the perpetuation of gangster rap has really put a negative image on . . . Compton,” she blames gangster rap for Compton’s poor conditions. She feels that by changing the “image” of Compton things will get better.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a Fan of our local celebrities ( including Dr. Dre and Ice Cube), but they and Hollywood have a “Social Responsibility” in the development of our Community, especially if their “Profiting from the Pain” through the sell of Music “Lryics”, Videos, and Movies that glorifies the “Gangster Lifestyle”.

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Dre Donates to Compton – Finally !

Today Dr Dre announced that he will be donating all of his artist royalties earned from Compton, the pioneering gangsta rapper-producer’s long-awaited new album, to help fund a new performing arts and entertainment facility in Compton. The mogul revealed that he’ll be working with Compton Mayor Aja Brown and her office on the center. “We’ve reached out to Aja Brown quite a few times in the last month or two,” Dre said. “I’ve been really trying to do something special for Compton and just couldn’t quite figure out what it was. She actually had this idea and she was already in the process of working on it. I said, ‘Boom, this is what we should do.”
Good for you Dre, it’s about time!

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Hope it includes some kind of educational and cultural influence on children, of a higher order. Let’s not limit them to RAP and todays limited offerings in “entertainment”.

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