‘Straight Outta Compton’ team talks film with Big Sean

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

A Royal Oak audience got an early look at the upcoming N.W.A. biopic “Straight Outta Compton” on Wednesday night, and several of the film’s principals — including producer Ice Cube and director F. Gary Gray — participated in a discussion moderated by Detroit rapper Big Sean following the film.

The invite-only crowd at Royal Oak’s Emagine Theatre was very receptive to the film, applauding during several scenes and cheering as the end credits rolled.

Sean praised the film and called N.W.A. “superheroes in the hood.” The 27-year-old was only a year old when the group’s debut album was released, but he said the rappers were extremely influential to him and his career path.

“I’m standing on y’all shoulders,” he said during the 45-minute Q&A session.

“Straight Outta Compton,” which opens Aug. 14, tells the story of the rise and fall of “the world’s most dangerous group,” and includes a key scene that depicts an August 1989 concert at Joe Louis Arena.

“That show at Joe Louis, we was excited. It was sold out,” said Cube of the show, which also featured LL Cool J, Slick Rick and others. N.W.A. was second on the bill that night, which frustrated the group, who were building a huge national buzz at the time.

Several arrests were made at the concert, and the movie shows police officers breaking up the group’s show as they perform their single “(Expletive) the Police.”

“Police would read us obscenity laws and tell us what they was gonna do to us if we sang ‘(Expletive) the Police,’ so we got mad, and we just did it that night. And the police rushed us and they messed up a great show and they caused a whole bunch of commotion,” Cube said. “It was a poignant moment for us, and that’s why we put it in the movie.”

The scene piqued the interest of Big Sean, who said he’s performing a concert at Joe Louis Arena later this year.

Cube deflected a question about reports that N.W.A. will perform a series of shows with Eminem later this year. “I’ma let Dre confirm that,” he said.

Cube’s son, O’Shea Jackson Jr., who plays Cube in the movie, was also on hand, as was Jason Mitchell, who plays the late Eazy-E in the film.

Cube said watching his son play him on screen “is like watching your son win the Super Bowl for the same team you won the Super Bowl.”

Gray, who first worked with Cube on the “True to the Game” video in 1992, said his goal was to make a film that played beyond N.W.A.’s fanbase.

“I wanted to tell a universal story that everybody could identify with,” said Gray, who earlier in the day went to Sweetwater Tavern with Sean. “You don’t have to be a rapper, you don’t have to be black to understand brotherhood. You don’t have to be from this environment to understand love and also courage.”

Cube said Detroit has always played an important role in his career.

“Detroit has always shown love for us,” Cube said. “This is definitely one of the cities I always think of when it’s time to do something hard, to do something real, I always have Detroit in my mind and in my heart.”

He was happy to hear the audience’s reaction to the movie.

“Detroit, if we got your stamp of approval, we know we did our job,” he said.