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Here's What It's Like To Be ’Straight Outta Compton' Today

Compton youth speak about life in the CPT.

With the release of "Straight Outta Compton" Friday (Aug. 14), the world is refocusing on a city N.W.A put on the map back in 1988.

The World's Most Dangerous Group's debut album -- which the film is named after -- provided a painting of what they referred to as "reality rap." Songs like "Gangsta Gangsta" told a dangerous narrative, "Express Yourself" provided artistic advice and "F--k Tha Police" shined a light on law enforcement injustice in the '80s.

Since then, the world has seen similar portrayals of the CPT from rappers like DJ Quik, MC Eiht, The Game, YG and Kendrick Lamar, among others. Their vivid imagery of the city has informed the world, much like Dr. Dre's latest album titled after his hometown. Thanks to these influential MCs, we've been able to unearth what the city's past was like. But what's Compton like today?

MTV News visited El Camino College, Compton Center to speak with students about their experiences in the city. Are they similar or different to what N.W.A and other Comp-Town representers have shared in rap? Here's a look at Compton through the eyes of youth living in the city today.

  • Arthur Tyson, English, 22
    Andres Tardio/MTV

    "When I was growing up, I experienced a lot of shooting. I could remember my mom holding me down on the floor, crying at the same time...I was probably about 5 or 6 at the time.

    "I remember Compton being a real dangerous city when I was younger, but a lot of it has kind of cooled down now.

    "I’ve heard gunshots and stuff, but not as many as many as it was when I was growing up and stuff, but the shooting still goes on."

  • Darylana Thompson, Nursing, 20
    Andres Tardio/MTV

    "Life was like, you always had to watch your back. You have to be quick on your feet and know how to get away from things like violence and shootings and stuff like that. I really don’t feel like Compton is safe for black males, pretty much, or any male at that.

    "There’s always the gangs and stuff. They always try to look for somebody to kill. It could be an innocent person. They always feel like any black person is attached to a gang and it’s not true. There’s actually people out here who are trying to get out of the hood.

    "My brothers -- whenever they’re hanging out in front of our house -- [police] stop and frisk them and harass us. My dad has been pulled over just for DWB [Driving While Black], for no apparent reason. They make up reasons to stop you -- just to mess with you pretty much."

  • Fernando Ramirez, Engineering, 19
    Andres Tardio/MTV

    "I know it gets kind of dangerous. I’ve seen graffiti around. But I’ve never actually seen gangs flashing colors or anything. So, for me, I didn’t really live through what they lived through or the police brutality or whatever that happened.

    "I’ve seen some people light candles on street corners where people got shot or something like that. There’s actually one down my block that I have to pass by to get home every day, but I’ve never actually heard gun shots or seen it happen directly. So, I haven’t really been exposed to that as much as they have, but I know it’s there happening."

  • Celeste Rodriguez, Clinical Psychology, 19
    Andres Tardio/MTV

    "For me, it was crazy. I live around here. Around here, it’s like, the same thing with the gang wars and everything. When I was young, there’d be shootings and stuff like that, but right now it’s more calm.

    "I started seeing it calm down like three or four years ago because around where I live the cops are more strict now. But there’s times where they’re not."

  • Crystal Montalvo, Criminal Justice, 18
    Andres Tardio/MTV

    "It’s actually a crazy experience. Sometimes it’s cool. Nothing happens. And then, out of nowhere, some shooting happens.

    "I grew up used to it. I would see that sometimes. I would see gang wars literally right in front of my face. But now it’s getting calm. It’s not that much of a big deal to actually be in the streets and it’s not as scary as people think it is."