Straight Outta Compton to “Straight Outta Compton”

DSC_5411-EditDSC_5402-Edit-4 Compton10Aug2015 (10 of 68)DSC_5422-Edit

I took the above photos early Monday evening on the Blue Line. Universal Pictures had invited about 150 community members from Compton to the premiere of “Straight Outta Compton” in DTLA and the group arranged to take the train to Pico Station to see the movie at L.A. Live (the movie opens Friday and will be playing at theaters throughout the region). Below is a nice piece about the ride and reactions to the movie by NBC4’s Beverly White:

Surprise, surprise: I’m a white guy from suburban Ohio and no expert on hip-hop. That said, in days of yore before the internet (i.e. 1988), NWA’s debut album was a big enough deal that even white guys from suburban Ohio knew about it and heard it despite a ban on the music video and lack of radio play. The album was raw, authentic, controversial, offensive to some and provocative lyrics such as “they have the authority to kill a minority” cemented its legacy. That line is from the album’s infamous second track, which in more recent times has evolved into “film the police” in the wake of Eric Garner’s death last year in Staten Island.

Transit’s role in this? Small but worth mentioning. Before there was Metro and before the Blue Line began running in 1990, there was the RTD running buses around South L.A. The RTD — Rapid Transit District or Rough Tough and Dangerous, depending on your point of view — occasionally popped up in lyrics:

From NWA’s “L.A. Is The Place:”

I said what’s up, we’ll be who riding on you

Nick name Eazy-E, and I’m down with the crew

You come talking that trash, we’ll pull your card

It’s not the Bronx, it’s L.A. but just as hard

Don’t get me wrong I like to brag on the city I own

The Subway R-T-D, don’t ride it alone

You might have silly thoughts, that were insane

But the city I’m from, let me explain

From Ice Cube’s “Doin’ Dumb ****”

When you young it’s hard to see

That it’s wrong throwing rocks at the RTD

From: Ice Cube’s “Robin Lench”

And for your transportation pleasures, you get to ride on what?…

The “R.T.D.”: the “Rough, Tough and Dangerous”

I also found a couple mentions in various articles about mix tapes being sold and traded on the RTD buses in the 1980s before the music coming out of South L.A. made its way into the mainstream. Bigger picture: complaints about bus service, or lack thereof, was one of the many complaints coming out of Watts (which is just north of Compton) in the years before the 1965 riots erupted.

I can’t post the Straight Outta Compton video, which isn’t appropriate for a government website. If you really need to see it, I’m sure you can find it. I hadn’t seen it in years and it was certainly interesting to go back and watch. There’s even one brief glimpse of what appears to be a Blue Line platform. Here’s a screen grab:


For those interested, here’s a good panel discussion about the film by NWA and the film’s director F. Gary Gray (warning: adult language):

Finally, if headed to Compton, I’m pretty sure that Bludsos BBQ remains the best known restaurant in town. It’s a 1.3-mile walk from the Compton Blue Line station and is located on Long Beach Boulevard just north of Alondra. Both the Metro 60 and 128 Buses stop at the intersection.