“What a lot of people don’t realize about NWA,” Ice Cube as himself says at the top of a new trailer for his film Straight Outta Compton, “is that it’s nonviolent protest.” So if you were wondering whether Ice Cube might sort of compare his former rap crew to Mahatma Gandhi, yes, he sort of would. The amazing thing is that by the end of the trailer, you sort of have to concede the point.
The “nonviolent protest” remark arrives during a stylish black and white introduction, during which Ice Cube and Dr. Dre cruise around modern-day Compton (in a very visible Chrysler, a Dre-affiliated brand), visiting with some of the rappers they’ve influenced, including The Game and Kendrick Lamar. It’s a last glimpse of the cuddly star of Are We There Yet? and the billionaire earphone baron before flying back in time to see a preview for the film about their origin story–a film that looks very timely in the wake of recent police shootings of unarmed black men.
Once the trailer proper kicks in, we’re looking at a Compton of 1987 and listening to the dulcet tones of exposition machine Paul Giamatti. A young fired up group of rappers and a producer/DJ are about to upend the music industry, and introduce the phrase “fuck the police” into the popular lexicon. The cast is composed of unknowns, but here’s how they add up: Young Dr. Dre is passable, Young Ice Cube is a dead ringer for Ice Cube who also has his cadence down cold (as he should–it’s Ice Cube’s son), and Young Eazy-E may be an actual necromancer because he sounds just like the real guy, who passed away in the mid-’90s.
From the couple minutes of this trailer, the film seems to capture in detail not only the group’s rise to fame but the tense race relations in California at the time that would explode a few years later in the Rodney King riots. Previous Ice Cube collaborator F. Gary Gray directs the film, which is set to come out on August 14.