In the N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton, we learn the backstories to some of the influential rap outfit’s most popular songs. That includes the controversial song that made them Public Enemy #1 to the nation’s law enforcement agencies in the early ‘90s: The biting hip-hop anthem “F—k Tha Police.” The film depicts members Ice Cube (O'Shea Jackson Jr.), Dr. Dre (Corey Hawkins), and Eazy-E (Jason Mitchell) being accosted and brutalized by cops, including one scene in which the musicians are senselessly roughed up outside of a studio in a suburban neighborhood — an incident that inspires Cube to write the now-infamous protest song.
Much has changed for Ice Cube (born O'Shea Jackson) during the 27 years since “F—k Tha Police” first hit airwaves. The 46-year-old launched a hit-filled solo career, parlayed his musical success into movie stardom (with hits ranging from the stoner flick Friday to the family-friendly Are We There Yet? films to the Jump Street comedies in which he plays the police chief), and became a father himself. That doesn’t mean Cube’s stance on those assigned to protect and serve has softened at all.
“The song is as relevant to me today as it was when we recorded it,” Cube told Yahoo Movies, which you can watch in the video above. The rapper-actor-producer’s N.W.A. bandmate, DJ Yella, echoed those sentiments. “It’s basically the same thing we were talking about 26 years ago,” he said. “Now it’s just the media and cell phones are capturing it all…. They haven’t fixed the problem.”
Added Cube, “We appeal to the good cops to weed out these bad cops and maybe we’ll get some progress.”
Compton as a whole carries resounding relevance as it heads into theaters this weekend. While the movie follows the rise of N.W.A. and its contentious relationship with law enforcement during the Rodney King era, its release comes as the nation once again deals with rising tension between the black community and police, following a rash of shootings of unarmed men and uprisings in cities like Ferguson and Baltimore.
“We were right on time back then, and we’re right on time now, that’s just been the magic behind the group,” Cube said when asked if the film seems more urgent now than it did when it first began development in 2009. “It’s sad that it’s still happening now,” added director F. Gary Gray. “But I think we’re shining a light on it. I think change is coming because there’s so much attention surrounding it.”
Straight Outta Compton opens everywhere Friday. Watch the young cast get quizzed on classic rap lyrics: