Universal May Revive F. Gary Gray's N.W.A. Biopic

Oshea Jackson Jr. as Ice Cube in Straight Outta Compton
(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

Straight Outta Compton, director F. Gary Gray’s planned biopic of early-day gangster rap superstars N.W. A., might have found new life over at Universal.

The studio has entered negotiations to pick up the project with Gray attached, says The Wrap. Andrea Berloff’s script would document the formation of the group, which introduced the world budding rap stars like Ice Cube, Dr. Dre and Easy E. According to the trade, the screenplay will dig into many of the controversial subjects that plagued the group, from its fights against censorship as it released songs like “Fuck the Police” to Easy E’s losing battle with AIDS. Compton reportedly will follow the group from its first days, and go all the way through Ice Cube’s solo career and the formation of Dre’s Death Row Records.

Rap fans don’t have very many musical biopics they can call their own. Filmmakers are starting to explore major players in the industry, leading to movies like George Tillman Jr.’s Notorious. But an N.W.A. biopic absolutely needs to happen. They are the closest thing to “founding fathers” the gangster rap genre has, and a movie celebrating their accomplishments is in order.

It’s encouraging to hear that Universal sees the need to this story, because Straight Outta Compton has had a rocky pre-production road. The director once had an open casting call back in June to find unknowns capable of playing larger-than-life figures like Dre and Cube. But the film has been on the backburner for months. These developments are encouraging. There’s a solid story waiting to be told here, and it’s cool that Universal is giving F. Gary Gray the chance.

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Sean created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.