Straight Outta Compton to Right Now

by on August 27, 2015 · 0 comments

in California, Civil Rights, Culture, From the Soul, History, Media


By Ernie McCray

I saw Straight Outta Compton
the other night.
It was a trip, fly, tight.
Got to it
from the git with
“You are now about to
witness the strength of
street knowledge”
coming through the theater’s
wall rattling
surround sound
with funky
raw to the bone,
Dre beats
that had you
mumbling in tongues
and bobbing in your seat –
as life played out
in recording studios and
on inner-city streets…

Straight Outta Compton
broke it down nicely,
taking us to 1986 in the U.S.A
when five lyrical, analytical,
spiritual, cynical, critical
teenage rap masters,
ghetto poets from south of downtown L.A.,
came together as N.W.A.
Talking about
MC Ren, Dj Yella,
Ice Cube, Easy-E and Dr. Dre,
who had a whole lot to say
and didn’t hesitate to say it.
Didn’t feel the need
to whine it
or delay it
or simmer it down
or pray it.
Struggled to not betray it.

Put aside the misogyny
that still keeps the music industry
from being all that it can be,
all the booty shaking
throughout the movie,
I’ve forever appreciate
these gifted rappers
giving us a peek at the police,
the renegade ones
who go upside our heads
and shoot us like beasts,
who shouldn’t be shot either,
if you please,
officers of the law who make you say
“F— tha police!”
for lack of anything better to say –
which got N.W.A. pounced upon
and slapped around and put away.
Hey, it’s always been dangerous for black people
to display anger of any kind in the U.S.A.

But “F— tha police!”
was a collective relief,
a means
to scream
against the American Dream
which wants us unheard and unseen.
A scream for all the scenes
where brothas and sistas have been
victimized in some needless
and reckless routine
where some protector and server
who knows not how to do either,
acts like an out of control
unscrupled life-sucking czar:
throwing you against the hood of a cop car;
questioning you just for standing in front of your own pad
or sitting on the hood of your own car;
and don’t even think of wandering
across town
because that would be going way too far…

We’d starved for someone to demonstrate out loud
that we were black
and we were proud.
And we were all sitting on the couch
one day watching TV
waiting for what we thought had to be “GUILTY!”
But a jury of who knows whose peers (Satan’s?)
set those keepers of the peace free
for kicking Rodney’s ass
like he was a rag doll
to be stomped in effigy.
And that, too, we saw on TV,
with not one bit of nuance or subtlety…
Can I hear a “Lawd, have mercy?”

And they’re still
shooting us down in the streets
in the 21st Century
with absolute out-and-out
unsullied impunity.

Oh, I wish that more rappers
would come along
with something really
worthwhile to say:
Something to rally us out of the pain
and the humiliation and the anger
and the fears that still plague us today
as they have since way way
back in the day…
Something to help us realize
we have to mobilize
and dedicate our lives
to the betterment of our lives,
for the sake of our lives…
That, in my eyes,
would be the “strength of street knowledge.”
Something wise, to try on for size –
Straight Outta Compton.

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