NWA & Eazy-E: The Kings of Compton
With the release of Straight Outta Compton and the resurgence of interest in late 80's/early 90's hip hop icons and NWA, it's no surprise to see a certain capitalised effort on this urban music legacy.
For the record, I'm a big rap/hip hop fan, mainly old school, and so the documentary, Kings of Compton, was very much of interest. As it stands, it’s a passionate though flawed retelling of this crucial musical and cultural history, with Eazy-E standing front and centre...
Perhaps appealing more to long-time hip hop music fans, the film chronologically tells the story of the NWA legacy, how their new and confrontational style shocked the world and the role real-life drug dealer "Eazy" Eric Wright played in launching the group alongside Dr Dre, Ice Cube, DJ Yella,MC Ren and even original member Arabian Prince. It also covers the rise of Ice as the highly successful actor, movie producer and rapper he would become, plus world renowned music producer Dre and how NWA played such a vital role in their careers, as well as American music. The story is documented through new interviews, personal photos and archive material, giving insight into the real people behind the records.
Where the film succeeds most is through its candid, insightful interviews with the original members, plus fellow rappers and industry peers, like Ice-T and The Game, alongside childhood friends, producers, record label execs, DJs and journalists who witnessed the rise to fame. The archive material collected also gives a nice glimpse into the history unfolding on screen.
However, the film also suffers from dated production values and feels more like a 90's TV documentary rather than 2015 feature film, however, whether intended or not, this does work in its favour and gives it the 90’s MTV feel! (accident or intentional?)
Despite the Hollywood gloss and omission of certain information in the movie retelling, I rated Straight Outta Compton very highly because it told a great story about the kind of group that doesn't get enough artistic credit. As a kind of organic follow on, Kings of Compton focuses more on the positive work and influence of Eazy and his contributions to the group, his charity and community work, as well as the efforts through his label, Ruthless Records, and the opportunities they gave new artists. All in all, the result is a more intimate, human story.
NWA & Eazy-E: The Kings of Compton is out now on DVD from Metrodome.