As much as things change, they stay the same. Almost thirty years ago, N.W.A. shot to fame rapping about the drive by shootings, gang wars and random violence in Compton. Last week, the group’s much hyped biopic, Straight Outta Compton, was interrupted by that very same violence after gunfire erupted just off the set.
According to TMZ, the production was filming at the Compton Courthouse when some locals not affiliated with the production got into some kind of confrontation. Witnesses are claiming gang signs were exchanged, but the police are being a lot more vague. Either way, people in a nearby car opened fire, hitting one person with a bullet before speeding away. Fortunately, the victim was taken to the hospital quickly and survived his injuries.
No one involved with the production was injured, but everyone involved is reportedly pretty shaken up, specifically because the production is scheduled to continue filming in Compton for the forseeable future. That level of random violence might have been something the guys in the original group were used to, but it’s definitely outside the comfort zone of the most of the people working on the movie.
The neighborhoods of South Central Los Angeles, particularly Compton, played a key role in the rise of N.W.A. Fueled by a weird mix of community pride, a frustration with the rampant local problems and an almost pathological need to rise above and get out, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre and Eazy E (plus MC Ren and DJ Yella) formed in 1986 and broke out on the backs of their first LP Straight Outta Compton, released in 1988. They largely pioneered a new style of gangster rap and pushed many social issues to the forefront of American culture. They also pissed off a lot of people in the process, including each other, and eventually imploded amidst royalty disputes and a whole lot of animosity.
They may not have sold the most albums or earned the most critical praise, but the group was incredibly important both musically and socially. They pushed the culture in a completely different direction and launched two gigantic stars in Dr. Dre and Ice Cube. Had Eazy-E survived (he died of AIDS in ’95), it probably would have been 3 huge stars too.
Despite the frazzled nerves, Straight Outta Compton isn’t expected to be delayed in any meaningful way by the shooting. It’ll hit theaters on August 14, 2015. I can't promise the film will be good, but it's a pretty safe bet that the music will be.