When I finally saw Straight Out of Compton, I enjoyed it so much more than I was expecting. While it’s not a perfect movie, there are some great performances and the story is a lot tighter than you would think. The film tells the story of how N.W.A. – Easy-E, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube – got their start. It also gave a glimpse into how the LAPD operated at that time, the late 1980s. Basically, pre-LA Riots – and some would argue post-Riots – Los Angeles was a powder keg of racism, racial animosity and justified distrust of the police in communities of color. Thus, NWA’s song “F–k the Police.” That song came around the same time as Ice-T’s “Cop Killer” and other songs questioning the authority of police, and defying that authority. So what does Ice Cube think of all that these days, more than 25 years removed from it? Well, even though he’s Mr. Mainstream/Family-Film, Cube doesn’t think much has changed.
Where he thinks the country is with policing & race: “Same as we always been. Police have a philosophy, they have a theory, they have a way of doing stuff, it’s win at all costs. Win now, apologize later, that’s the model. By having that way of thinking and that philosophy, it’s all about ‘Us against Them,’ that’s the mentality.”
His new song “Good Cop, Bad Cop”. It calls on good cops to speak and act against corrupt police officers, a far cry from the attitude in N.W.A’s infamous song, “F—k tha Police,” but Cube said he’s “always really hoped good police would take care of bad cops,” that while the 1988 song was a “revenge fantasy” type of thing against police abuse, the new song is a plea for honorable cops to step up and speak out. “They’re our last line of defense against this onslaught of abuse,” he said.
He does think it’s more hopeful that some bad cops are being charged with crimes: “[In the 1980s] police could do no wrong … now you fast forward 25 years later, at least the cops are being put on trial for their actions.”
On the N-word: “I know some people say, ‘You from a group called N—as With Attitude and you got a problem with other people saying that,’ and yeah, I do. I really do.”
Much like Ice-T went from the guy who sang “Cop Killer” to the actor who plays a cop with heart on Law & Order: SVU, I feel like Cube has softened a bit with age, and as such, he’s aiming for optimism or any kind of silver lining to this neverending sh-tshow. On one hand, he’s right – there are some changes, however slow and incremental. On the other hand, there are still so many “bad cops” out there. Some would argue that the “one bad apple” argument falls flat because of that mentality Cube cites: “Us Against Them.” As in, cops always believe they are under siege, regardless of whether they are or not. And that’s no way to police a community, with an itchy trigger finger and violent paranoia.
Photos courtesy of WENN.