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Big Sean, Ice Cube surprise students at Cass Tech

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

Members of Cass Technical High School’s senior class received a surprise on Thursday afternoon when they were visited by Big Sean, Ice Cube and cast members of the upcoming N.W.A. biopic, “Straight Outta Compton.”

“We thought we were coming in for a regular meeting,” said Katrianna Franklin, 18, of Detroit. When Sean, Cube, “Straight Outta Compton” director F. Gary Gray and cast members O’Shea Jackson, Jr. and Jason Mitchell showed up on stage of the school’s auditorium, “it was shocking,” she said.

Big Sean, who graduated from Cass Tech in 2006, hit the stage first and introduced the others. The biggest cheers were reserved for Cube, the veteran rapper and actor whose story is told in “Straight Outta Compton.” Cube gave out one of his patented “yayee-yayee!” calls as he took his place on the stage.

Sean moderated a discussion about the film that found the panelists talking about the movie and sharing advice with the students.

Mitchell, who plays late N.W.A. member Eazy-E in the film, told the students how he landed his role via videotaped audition from his house in New Orleans.

“I booked my role from right there at home,” he said. “So when y’all look at me, I just want y’all to be like, ‘I can do that, from right where I’m at. All I’ve got to do is change my mindset, stay focused, and before you know it you might take off.’”

Ice Cube’s son O’Shea Jackson Jr., who plays Cube in the film, talked about an inspirational teacher he had as a high school student who shared with him a quote by Henry David Thoreau: “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams and live the life that you’ve imagined.”

“I really want everyone to take that to heart, because that can be very powerful,” Jackson said.

Director Gray talked about the film, the cast and the importance of shooting on location in Los Angeles (“you can’t shoot ‘Straight Outta Compton’ in Boston!” he said). He said Sean had been leading the group around Detroit for the last day, including stops at Sweetwater Tavern and Original Pancake House. Sean and the cast members also appeared at a screening of the film Wednesday night in Royal Oak.

The visit was Big Sean’s second visit to Cass Tech this summer. Last month, he unveiled a recording studio in the building that will be used by the school’s music students.

Sean told the students he planned to make a movie in the future. “One day, I’m gonna shoot my own movie in the city of Detroit!” he said.

Taylor Gibson, 17, of Detroit said she learned a lot during the surprise event.

“I’m glad Big Sean always comes back to show us love,” she said. “It’s really inspiring, especially to people here who are a part of the performing arts here, because he’s always helping people and showing us what’s possible.”

agraham@detroitnews.com

@grahamorama