Roland Martin traveled to Hollywood to talk with the cast and director of the hip-hop biopic Straight Outta Compton. In this NewsOne Now interview, Martin talks with director F. Gary Gray about police abuse and how the iconic group addressed police brutality.
Gray told Martin he felt “a lot of pressure” to get the film right. He said, “I grew up in that era, grew up in Los Angeles around that time — there’s a lot of fans out there that was like, ‘just make sure you get it right.'”
“I didn’t want it to feel like it was just a rap movie. It’s an important story — so far beyond the group and the music, socially and otherwise,” he continued.
When talking about what some perceived as an anti-cop movie, Gray explains that the biopic is not anti-cop, it is a “pro-change movie.”
“We want to change the culture,” Gray said. The more police brutality happens and “the more people catch it and put it on video, I think the more pressure, law enforcement will have to change the culture.”
Martin, host of NewsOne Now, said, “When you think about the music of NWA and what they were saying — they were saying what wasn’t on video,” which caused many in America to believe the rap group was spinning a fictitious narrative about police abuse/violence. “So essentially I’m going, you’re actually just showing what we’re now actually seeing on video in real-time,” said Martin.
Gray replied, “You have to think that they (NWA) feel somewhat vindicated, because they were really judged and attacked and harassed when they made that song (“Fuck Da Police”) about the police.”
“It’s unfortunate that the more things change, the more they stay the same, but they stood up and had the courage to do so,” said Gray.
“It took a lot of courage for these guys to just step up and be themselves, whether you agree with it or not is another thing, but just to go beyond being politically correct — having courage to stand up and say, ‘This is who I am. The good, the bad, and the ugly — It’s inspiring to see a bunch of guys who grew up in a destructive environment and do something constructive.”
Gray told Martin that Straight Outta Compton is a “trip down memory lane” and while you’re enjoying the film, realize that the movie is “relevant today.” He wished it wasn’t so relevant in drawing parallels to instances of police violence against people of color that continues to play out in present day America.
Watch Roland Martin and F. Gary Gray discuss Straight Outta Compton in the video clip above.
Straight Outta Compton premieres in theaters Friday, August, 14. Make sure you check out the movie that speaks to the foundation of one of the most important groups in the history of music. Don’t forget to get your own personalized Straight Outta Compton meme at www.straightouttasomewhere.com.
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