Archetypes: Film: Review: ‘Straight Outta Compton’ (2015)

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

The music group N.W.A. smashed rules to become a seminal force in creating the new revolutionary musical genres of hip hop and gangsta rap. When it came to growing their business, though, they were stuck dealing with mundane business-as-usual deceits and manipulation.

The contrast between these two archetypal energies – Uranian rebellion, insight into future trends and freedom of speech at any cost vs. the traditional Saturnine these-are-the-rules mentality – is at the heart of Straight Outta Compton, the N.W.A. biopic that focuses on the group’s formation, growth in popularity and eventual splintering.

Directed by F. Gary Gray, the movie begins in 1986, as five young musicians, who’ve latched on to rap, get together informally. Unbridled and atttitudinal in speaking their lives to a relentless tempo, the group suggests a Uranian toppling of old musical structures through Mercurial words – rough ones – rather than melodic notes.

The youngsters who’ll soon become known as N.W.A. are Ice Cube (O’Shea Jackson, Jr.), Dr. Dre (Corey Hawkins), MC Ren (Aldis Hodge), DJ Yella (Neil Brown, Jr.) and, as the so-called funder and business guy, Eazy-E (Jason Mitchell). Their ability to stand out from the crowd, through a striking fearlessness in storytelling, involving women, daily events and police brutality, is immediate.

Their music seriously irritates Lonzo, the manager of Doo-To’s, the Compton club, where they perform. Lonzo wants nothing to do with their hardcore approach and so-called “reality raps,” a new form that features both Uranian and Mercurial wordplay-anarchy with a reliable Saturnine tempo as a backdrop.

However, one of their pieces of vinyl has the opposite effect on Jerry Heller (Paul Giammati), a veteran of the music industry who’s worked with notable talent, and who knows the group can’t afford to not appoint him as their manager. “I will make you legit,” he promises, convincing them he can provide entry where, on their own, they would never gain access. In other words, Jerry will provide the introductions and protections that will allow the group to effect its own musical revolution.

The movie doesn’t sugarcoat how some members of the group are relegated to the financial periphery, how one gets all the attention and better remuneration, and others never entertain the possibility that their compensation is not above board. When some members cut ties when they believe they’re being cheated – Suge Knight (R. Marcos Taylor) insinuates himself as a protector and watchdog – it’s to honor their idiosyncratic talent. Sometimes the word “no” wreaks the biggest havoc of all.

Archetypes: Storyteller. Musician. Freedom Fighter. Uncensored Speech.

Astrology Archetype: ☿ ♄ ♅ (Mercury, Saturn, Uranus)

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