N.W.A caused quite an uproar in 1988 with Straight Outta Compton’s “F—k Tha Police.” And it’s only fitting that the topic of law enforcement injustice is highlighted in the group’s upcoming biopic named after their seminal LP.
“The guys did a good job at standing up and shining a light - pre-Internet - shining a light on injustices and law enforcement,” director F. Gary Gray explained during an interview with MTV News late last month.
But it’s not just a subject that takes us down memory lane; it’s also something that is relevant to current events. And it's coincidentally poignant nearly one year following the death of Mike Brown and subsequent unrest in Ferguson.
"The same stuff that N.W.A was talking about is the same stuff that’s going on today,” Corey Hawkins - who plays Dr. Dre in the film - said.
O’Shea Jackson Jr. - who portrays his father Ice Cube in the movie - added that police injustice is going to be an ongoing issue unless action is taken.
"As far as those abusing the power, they’ve been doing it for years,” Jackson Jr. said. "They’ll continue to do it until we make some solutions.”
A step towards that solution, Jackson explained, perhaps lies in technology.
"Everybody in the world has access to a camera,” he explained. "That has changed. Hopefully the cases and the murders will start to tally up against these oppressors. Those who feel like we’re just making up some malarkey about law enforcement will be able to finally see something.”
Videos have certainly played a role in recent law enforcement related shootings of unarmed civilians. Videotapes certainly played a role in the Walter Scott, Eric Garner and Tamir Rice cases recently.
But the discussion around police injustice doesn't end there. Jason Mitchell - who stars as Eazy-E in the motion picture - noted that the law enforcement conversation should include all races.
"It’s not a black or white thing or anything like that,” he said. "I believe you could probably be some white guy and have a really unlucky day and get beat by the police. It can happen to you.”
Mitchell’s statement comes on the heels of Zachary Hammond’s death. The 19-year-old white male was shot and killed by police last month. And while details for the case are still being discovered, the young man’s parents believe he was killed for no reason.
Some of “F—k Tha Police’s” most notable and potent lines came from Ice Cube. “F—k the police, comin’ straight from the underground,” he rapped at the time. “A young n—a got it bad ‘cause I’m brown/ And not the other color, so police think/ They have the authority/ To kill a minority.”
Today, Ice Cube’s statement about police injustice features less profanities. But when asked what message "Straight Outta Compton" makes regarding this, the N.W.A MC still speaks about the importance of law enforcement reform.
"To me, it just shows that we still gotta hold [police] more accountable," he explained. "Right now, they're just getting away with it. It's business as usual. We hoot and holler for a couple of weeks and then, when CNN got another story, then it's out of our consciousness.
"So, we just have to stand up and hold these officers more accountable for what they’re doing, let them know that they’re not above the law, and things will start ironing out,” he added.
“Straight Outta Compton” is slated to hit theaters August 14.