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'Straight Outta Compton': EW preview

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Jaimie Trueblood

STARRING Jason Mitchell, Corey Hawkins, O’Shea Jackson Jr.

DIRECTED BY F. Gary Gray

RATED R

RELEASE DATE August 14

Late-’80s Los Angeles was a roiling cauldron of gang violence, racial tensions, and police brutality from which hip-hop firebrands N.W.A burst forth to forge gangsta rap as a cultural force. Now, a quarter century after their incendiary song “F— tha Police” provoked a rebuke by the FBI, former members Ice Cube and Dr. Dre have teamed up to produce this biopic tracing N.W.A’s profanity-laced history. “You’ll get the sex, drugs, and rock & roll that go with a music biopic, but we go beyond the surface,” says director F. Gary Gray (The Italian Job). That involved investigating the personal stories that inspired the group to rage against the proverbial machine. “While there is a lot of very specific talk about pushing back against the system and delving into street culture, these guys had lives outside of that,” Gray says.

To ensure those lives—portrayed by a cast of newcomers including Cube’s son O’Shea Jackson Jr. as Cube and Corey Hawkins as Dre—made it to the screen as authentically as possible, multiplatinum-selling Beats music mogul Andre “Dr. Dre” Young was on hand for more than half the shoot. And with Compton’s scenes of rioting and racial profiling, Gray hopes the movie will be seen as more than just a period piece in our post-Ferguson America. “We’re not just looking back on things that used to happen,” he says. “They are still happening.”