For all intents and purposes NWA single-handedly invented Gangsta Rap. Before them was Hip Hop. Sure, there were beats and some street knowledge being dropped, but the hardness wasn’t there. And those brightly colored outfits just didn’t convey ghetto authenticity. NWA’s look clearly said “hood nigga”. Black from head to toe, Raiders gear, wraparound shades and guns pointed right at you. They looked intimidating and their music followed suit. Being among the multitude of suburban white boys digging their rugged sound in the early ’90s, I understood the appeal. A culture so utterly brutal and alien at the same time was exciting to vicariously partake in. And there were lotsa cuss words.
Coinciding nicely with the recent release of the highly acclaimed NWA biopic, Straight Outta Compton, Mike Corbera’s documentary focuses more tightly on the life of Eazy-E, telling a slightly different story than the aforementioned blockbuster. Whereas Straight Outta Compton depicted E and his manager Jerry Heller as the “anti-heroes”, screwing the other members outta money and royalties, Kings of Compton presents Eazy as a selfless philanthropist, nonplussed as to why his band members turned their backs on him. No doubt the reality lies somewhere between these opposing sides.
Despite the very low-budget “unauthorized” look (the thing looks like it was made in the early ’90s!), and horribly bad reenactment scenes, this is a decent enough beginners guide to NWA and more specifically Eazy-E. It details everything most fans (or viewers of the recent film) will most likely be aware of – their controversial rise to fame, difficulties between members leading to break up, each produce solo albums dissing each other, Eazy dying of AIDS. Among some of the talking heads featured, many likely via non-copyrighted archive footage, are Yella Boy, Ice Cube, MC Ren, Jerry Heller, The Game, and Ice-T.
Available on R4 DVD from Mighty Ape.