Music Video of the Day: Straight Outta Compton by N.W.A. (1989, dir. Rupert Wainwright)

I wasn’t going to do a video for today since I wasn’t feeling well the night before, but I couldn’t hold off an extra day to follow up a Johnny Cash song with Straight Outta Compton.

There are numerous issues with the film Straight Outta Compton (2015). The biggest one being the whitewashing of their music. However, something that really pissed me off was any time someone gave a member of the group some sorta line about how no one is going to want to hear about real people’s lives, especially if it isn’t pretty. It was one thing when one of their friends who you could argue was insulated from other types of music said it. I mean the very beginning of the film does try to make you think that the music they normally heard at clubs was essentially Lionel Richie and/or The Commodores. That’s fine, but their manager should have known better and the film even gives us a wall of band names behind his desk to tell us he knows better. Every time I heard it, I was waiting for somebody to say: “Really? Sure sounds like what Johnny Cash was singing about back in the 1960s. All they’ve done is changed the window dressing and are singing about the reality around them, so sit down and shut up.” This song sure doesn’t sound a lot different from Folsom Prison Blues to me.

Remember that scene in Straight Outta Compton when they are trying to help Eazy-E find his voice? They teach him how to take words that may not exactly be his, but the power of of his voice lies in singing them as if they are. The second that clicks, it’s him. I hear that when I listen to a song like Folsom Prison Blues.

As for the music video itself, I think they did a good job of taking the Rapper’s Delight formula of a bunch of rappers shooting from one person to another for their bits, but replacing said bits with meaningful lyrics rather than ones that are just for fun. All of this while the police are omnipresent and on their tail to make sure that not only do the lyrics transport us to a place we may not be familiar with, but are visually transported there as well.

I don’t recommend seeing Ron Howard’s concert film Made in America (2013), but there is an interesting interview with Darryl McDaniels of Run-DMC in it. He talks about how he was a bit of an anomaly as a kid because of where he grew up. He was just enough in one direction or another that he not only picked up the traditionally black stations, but the white ones too. As a result, he said he was exposed to a lot folk music, which resonated with him. Folk music, that just like country, is also tied heavily to rap when you just strip away the surface to reveal the core. Heck, there are even artists that explicitly fuse rap and country into a genre called Hick Hop.

The point is, I thought I couldn’t let this opportunity to try and pass on the power of musical knowledge.

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