I recently saw the film Straight Outta Compton (2015) and found the scenes of police encounters disturbing. Conflict between NWA, the Compton community and the police was a constant undercurrent in the film. Sometimes Hollywood productions embellish stories for emotional effect, so I wonder:

How closely do these scenes in the film match the actual claims of NWA and others close to them? What if any interviews, etc. can be cited from NWA members that match the events in the film?

Please note, I am not asking whether the claims of NWA regarding police encounters are true, or whether the scenes in the film are accurate to life. I am only asking here whether the movie matches NWA's version(s) of events, or whether there is "creative license" at play.

(The film was produced in part by Dr. Dre and Ice Cube, though they are not given writing credit, so I wonder whether it can be considered as their telling of the story in movie form.)

I guess if there is one scene I am most interested in, it is the concert in Michigan where NWA all get chased off stage and arrested after performing "Fuck The Police" on stage after being ordered not to by the local police. Again, I'm not asking whether the film is accurate to life, I am only asking whether it is accurate to NWA's version of events.


1 Answer 1


Whether the police brutality/harassment scenes in the movie were embellished for creative licensing or not, the fact remains that police corruption, racism and brutality ran rampant in predominantly African American communities such as Compton:

a significant number [of LAPD officers] who "repetitively use excessive force against the public and persistently ignore the written guidelines of the department regarding force."

L.A.P.D. offices are encouraged to command and confront, not to communicate.

Minority officers are often targets of racial slurs within the police department, the report said. It also said the department's management consistently discouraged citizen complaints against officers and ignored racism and sexism.

In a Rolling Stone Interview, N.W.A member Ice Cube is quoted:

We were living in the middle of dope dealing, gangbanging, police brutality, fucking Reaganomics, and there was nowhere to escape.

As for some of the encounters with police in the movie, let's break down a few of them:

  • There is a scene where the members of N.W.A. are harassed by LAPD officers while standing outside of their recording studio. According to a source for The Guardian, this actually did happen. However, this incident did not inspire the concept for their song "Fuck tha Police.":

In the movie, it happens outside a recording studio in Torrance, California where they are recording their first album, Straight Outta Compton. In real life, members of the group did get harassed by cops in 1987 outside of Audio Achievements in Torrance while they were recording their first album. However, the incident didn't help to inspire the concept for their song "F*** Tha Police." Ice Cube had developed the concept for the song long before Dr. Dre agreed to record it (Dre wanted to wait until he no longer had to go to jail on weekends as punishment for too many traffic violations)

  • The concert in Detroit, Michigan where N.W.A. were chased off of the stage and arrested.
    According to the Detroit Free Press, N.W.A were arrested, but not the way that it was portrayed in the film:

Ice Cube told a British talk show host in 2014: "We agreed to [not perform 'Fuck tha Police' on tour] until we got mad at the promoter. We were like, ‘Tonight we're going to do that song.’” He continued: “We saw the whole Detroit police department rush the stage. They threw fireworks and stuff onstage. We took off running. Some guys ran out of the arena, to the hotel. They corralled us, arrested us all, and all they wanted was damn autographs for their daughters and sons.”

In the film, N.W.A are arrested in front of the auditorium and the crowd nearly starts a riot. However, in reality the group weren't arrested until they made it back to the hotel. Reportedly, the police waited in the lobby until N.W.A went down to gather up that night's groupies, and then calmly made their arrests.

Yes, there were some liberties taken for the sake of creative licensing, but it seems with these instances, there was little taken. The facts cannot be disputed that police corruption and racism was a very real issue that members of N.W.A. had to live with on a daily basis.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .