If there was ever any mystery as to who produced Straight Outta Compton, it’s completely solved by the time we get to the scene where we see Ice Cube sitting in front of his Dell-era desktop, writing the screenplay for Friday. “You got knocked da f*ck out’,” Cube, played by his son, mutters to himself while typing.
“Damn, this is funny,” Cube says, out loud, to no one in particular, apparently shocked by his own comedic genius.
Yep, that really happens. There’s also a callback to “bye, Felicia!” (during a scene featuring naked groupie BJs for some reason), and an Ice Cube’s Greatest Career Triumphs montage playing over the closing credits. That the movie also depicts Cube as a stand-up family man, a lyrical prodigy, and a take-no-sh*t contract negotiator who was never fooled by that shady operator Jerry Heller should come as no surprise either. There’s another scene where Ice Cube tells some gotcha journalist to eat a dick, and you’re all, “yeah!” because the interviewer was being a racist jerk and totally deserved it. The period when NWA split up and released diss tracks about each other? The crew may have been pissed at Cube, but they always secretly respected him. He was just so undeniably talented. When they finally squashed the beef, it was because Eazy just had to give Cube props on his career. Tough but fair, that Ice Cube. Turns out he was right all along.
This may have been the way things actually went down, by the way. That’s the beauty of Straight Outta Compton, we don’t really know. It could be that Ice Cube writing Friday on his Dell really was an important milestone in the history of NWA, and the fact that Straight Outta Compton was co-produced by Ice Cube, stars Ice Cube’s son, and was directed by the director of Ice Cube’s Friday (F. Gary Gray) could just be coincidence. They say history is written by the winners, and Straight Outta Compton certainly isn’t the Howard Zinn version.
I’ll watch the Howard Zinn version when they make it, by the way (produced by Jerry Heller, Suge Knight, DJ Yella and whoever Felicia is), but will it be as entertaining as Straight Outta Compton? Probably not. A slick biopic needs heroes, and Cube is definitely foremost in this version of the NWA story. It’s entirely self-serving, but seems just true enough that you can believe maybe it really was just like that.
Here’s a perfect example: They cast Ice Cube’s son as Ice Cube. Seems like a reasonable decision, right? What could be more faithful than that? And yet, in doing so, Cube cleverly, accidentally, maybe just by convenient coincidence, has rewritten his own history in such a way that he instantly becomes half a foot taller.
So when Straight Outta Compton Cube is coming face to face with Straight Outta Compton Suge Knight, and they’re eye-to-eye — you know it couldn’t have really happened that way, because in real life Ice Cube is 5-foot-8 and Suge Knight is a former UNLV defensive end, and yet you can’t be entirely convinced this was deliberate. Maybe Ice Cube is the Mussolini of ’90s rap stars or maybe casting his son just made sense (he does do a pretty good job).