We broke down our five favourite scenes from the extremely long film – check it out below. Despite running well over two hours, we only checked our phones twice, and that’s really saying something.
Eazy E runs into trouble with the residents of a trap house in the film’s opening scene, before the dispute is disturbed by a battering ram used by police to plow through the front wall in dramatic fashion. Eazy makes his escape by kicking through a window and hopscotching across houses, all in the midst of flying bodies and barking dogs. It’s a thrilling start to the film that grabs you by the throat, and sets the foundation for the film’s frequent inspection of the relationship between N.W.A and the police force.
In an interview with director F. Gary Gray, he described the police vehicles it as “full-on military warfare in civilian neighborhoods. You don’t want to justify criminal acts, but it wasn’t like these [people] were terrorists. There probably wasn’t a need to tear the whole front of the house down [laughs]. But in certain areas there’s over-correction. And there were times when they actually hit the wrong house and a person would be standing there with their living room out in the middle of the street.”
One of the most bizarre and brutal scenes in the movie sees a frustrated Dr. Dre walk into a room at Death Row Records, where Suge Knight is smoking a cigar while a pitbull viciously attacks a man in his underpants. Later, the man is made to toast the room of onlookers with a glass of champagne. It’s just one scene depicting Suge Knight’s staunch demeanour – earlier, he beats a man to a bloody pulp for parking in his car space. The scene acts as a catalyst for Dr. Dre’s departure from Death Row.
Speaking on the scene, Dr. Dre told Hollywood Reporter that “I was like, ‘What the fuck is going on?’ I was ready to leave anyways. This was the extra push. The guy in the underwear — all this shit actually happened.”
While Ice Cube left N.W.A due to financial issues, he ran into the same problems during his solo career. When he failed to get an advance for his album as promised by Priority Records, Cube takes matters into his own hands by destroying the office of Priority president Bryan Turner with a baseball bat, as Turner looks on in fear. It’s a scene that Cube maintains happened in real life, and it almost didn’t make the final cut. It acts as another example of young artists trying to navigate the bureaucracy of the music industry.
O’Shea Jackson Jr, who plays his real life father Ice Cube, says that “It was in the original script, and then once we read a rewrite, it was missing. I had to send out a letter asking for it back because it seemed very important. So when they took the time or the extra money or whatever it took to please me, I knew I had to give it everything I had.”
“That particular scene, the office scene, I was very passionate about that scene. I fought for that scene. I understand how movies work. I understand that you can’t have everything that you shoot. But that scene, I needed it because it meant a lot not only to the film but to my family. That represents my father’s boiling point. I think you can see the passion I have during that scene,” he added.
While N.W.A receive warnings from the FBI about their polarising anthem ‘Fuck Tha Police’, they’re told specifically not to perform the song at a concert in Detroit in 1989. Of course, being N.W.A, they did it anyway. As a result, undercover police rush the stage and an explosion sound sends the group running. Eventually, N.W.A are arrested outside the venue as fans pelt rubbish and objects at the police. It’s one of the chaotic riots in the film, with another scene depicting the aftermath of the Rodney King verdict.
Accounts of the real-life Detroit concert differ, but Detroit Metrotimes suggests that N.W.A were actually arrested back at their hotel, citing a 1989 interview with Ice Cube. “They took us into this little room. All they did was talk to us. They told us they wanted to arrest us onstage to front us off in front of everybody to show that you can’t say ‘Fuck Tha Police’ in Detroit,” he said.
For rap nerds, the most thrilling parts of the movie might be watching the creation of their favourite West Coast classics. Despite a brief appearance in the movie, Snoop Dogg quickly becomes one of the film’s most likeable characters, and we also see him collaborating with Dr. Dre on early versions of ‘Deep Cover’ and ‘Nuthin But A G Thang’ as he strolls down the stairs of a mansion. Other notable tracks created in the film include ‘California Love’ with Tupac and of course, ‘Straight Outta Compton’ itself.