Terence Nance (An Oversimplification of Her Beauty) Talks F. Gary Gray’s Straight Outta Compton

A rap response to the box-office hit biopic about N.W.A.’s cultural ascent.

Note: please do not read this, please play this beat or this one or this one and rap it to yourself.

I was five years old
Not a worry in the world
Nothing heavy on my soul
But privilege talks and pain walks
The streets and alleyways
Of ’80s Bedford Stuyvesant hot days
Or Liberty City MIA
But really Compton L.A.

The belly of the beast
Stricken with Crohn’s disease
The demon consumed
A generation removed
before E
In the wake of the shooters
The pale horse
No conspiracy
Follow me.

So Eric tho’
He’s the star of the show
Insofar as the cash rules everything so…
Around me no less
Around E the stress
Of death
Round every corner
Transactions for marijuana
End with calls to the coroner
Irony tho’
had he been a foreigner
A Euro
And paid a sorcerer
you know
To change his birthdate
And home state
To 2000 and something and Colorado let’s say.
He’d a been a millionaire selling medical hydro out his dispensary
Ponder that scenario please
Reconceptualize that scene

And series or sequel

Cause had it transpired like Marty McFly
No need for this movie and Mr. Wright’s
loss of innocence or life
crimes to survive

So homie, scene one, take one, action, we off to the races
Easy so easily duckin’ police tanks and unleashed pits
Doing parkour and shit
Black James Bond but no Idris
armour-clad British
imperialism skit.

Action hero tho’
lil meek mill lookin’ negus on his stature so.
Size matter not
Swerve on fox
E Un-catchable
But the game will still get you got

So he gotta work an exit

Before the trade brings an exit
to his present
And figures his fate for him.
Clichés like murder or jail
But could just as easily been broke and bored as hell
with no goals in life
The ex-dope boy
peaked at 17
indulged every vice
The rock market dry
so now he’s on his auntie’s couch
Watching real housewives of Shiites.

One of many well-done scenes Mr. Grey
Action packed and whatnot
But fuck you Universal for putting this at the beginning of the plot
For obvious reasons of linearity and priority
And the assumption that the first ingredient
Is used in the greatest amount in any given recipe.
Which frames the story to follow as criminal and druggy malfeasance
instead of social strife and nigga shit filtered through the flawed artistic genius
Of none other than
He of who we do not speak
Your favorite purveyor of the black family movie
The ice water Cube made from Pellegrino.
The negus from Encino.

Cube got the best intro tho’.
When OG blood
Held up a school bus full of studious young negroes
and down the barrel of his roscoe.
Told the kiddies to, and I quote — I’m not playing tho’ —
He told them you better gangbang them books.
Hella funny shit. lmfao no Afro dry or wet
Threats came of course after the babies thought it smart to throw up their sets
set trippin’ at best
Yellin’ sloooooooob to the nearest
piru from the southwest
seen on their left.

Cube tho’ goes at pains
to remain
unencumbered and unscathed
The poet and reporter
never the participant in the daze
Cause he in school in The Valley
Out the boiling pot
Distant from the ways of his world
his block
But well versed in its moods and signs
its words and lies
its forms and norms
its fits and sighs.

As if to tell us
As if we didn’t already know
That Cube ain’t have an AK
at no point never no
That Cube ain’t have a set
that ain’t what he chose.

That Cube had fam
middle class.
A father with a job
privileges on the low
That Cube trafficked in the illusions
Used words like Play Doh.

And even tho’ that framing feels to me like an appeasement to ofay.
As if to say, Look, Kemosabe
I’m safe
and always have been at the end of the day.
I appreciate that twenty years too late
Cube and Dre
Especially Cube and Dre
Are explicitly making it clear to black kids
(who no longer look up to them anyway)
That their skill as artisans made them who they are today.

His pen and his ears
Not any associations or attitude
Not any arms or gang feud
Or hyper masculine performance of virility
banging on their brood

All black and bat-like poised for the murders.

They both constantly said they coulda woulda committed.
Yea, “You got shooters in Every city,” whateva nigga I heard it.
When everybody who KNEW “nigga pleased” ’em like Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit

I mean, when this dropped  I was like six — first grade or second.
so I fully thought that if these niggas had a gun to my face on the cover of the record
They were killers for real and that was a matter of public record.

The nuance that Easy was the only one armed was lost on lil me
And maybe that is of course fine as I aged into understanding
But so many don’t and didn’t

and lying on wax
has extended to lying on YouTube
no tax
Lying in the club
Lying in the tub
Lying on the job application
Like everyday I’m hustling
In the corrections department for the state of Florida
But trust me I’m still a murderer

So y’all niggas’ legacy be damned real talk.
Because while nothing explicitly all that fucking crazy thuggy was uttered in the titular record
G-rap has birthed more bullshit than food
More niggas than good dudes
False binary I know but at present I’m biased and calling bullshit.
But not on the respectability politic

Cause yea. You weren’t a thug or a pimp for real. But talking greasy and shit made it OK to go ham on wax with the unc. And Bobby Murda murda murda kill kill kill.

Which of course free speech woulda been fine
Had we all had the wear with all to contextualize and comment
Put the lyrics in their place, outer space, Haile’s comment.

Fiction writing at best wish fulfillment in sonnets.
Dialectical jokes not a sincere promise
But you negus always wanna take it to real life
off record no hologram with the misogyny and violence.

Yea you. ANDRE
With the assault against queens charges
And the billions of dollars and your relative silence.
Like I made mistakes and paid for em …what?
Lemme ask you something, How much?
And in what currency.
And if you have changed
Which I don’t doubt currently.

Why not for the culture and the truth come clean on celluloid
Why not keep it real, why the void?
Why that rape shit from your white boy?

Your friend on the soundtrack cuz?
I won’t repeat it here that’s how vile it was.

I won’t even start on Cube’s recent bullshit.
Talkin’ ’bout bitches and ladies are mutually exclusive

Nigga please
Wrong side of history
Bad look
Especially for a nigga that according to the movie was the one in his books.
A man of letters so to speak
So it was interesting to me.
That Easy E was really
The moral center of the movie.
Plus the actor behind his curl and delivery.
Murdered the role
Oscar please.
Scene after scene
He enraptured me
no Hetero.
Better tho’
listen because subtextually
this was almost entirely
Easy E’s movie.
Niggas plural with Attitude
Yea but really the story of Easy E
And why you ask?
Why the more believable E
Tragic and triumph articulated with pain and vanity
of course Ultraviolence, Misogyny, Loyalty, and class?
Because Eric Wright is dead
and he’s not around to edit his own past.

Case in point right
Every time Dre gets in a fight
He knocking big niggaz out
So I’m supposed to believe now
that he never took one to the chin?
In his youthful years of starting sin?
Especially given that
He the artsy one in the clique
The family man at that.

So again negro please
Do better
Said with love
Signed me
Be real wit ya self
You ain’t gotta lie to kick it, my G.

The most interesting movie was never to be.
Given that it’s always my urge to valorize me
And you yourself.

So that said
Inherent flaws aside
F. Gary entertained.
Brought the drama no lie
The Acting was fantastic
Oshea and the like
Band of brothers on the mic
But plenty strife in life.
Mainly in the form of white niggas1 and their supremacy
As is their nature at times.

But the movie hits when
For lack of a better sin
The brothers get together to make art
With a mic and a pen.

The shit falls apart a few times more than what’s articulated above.
The police brutality shit was on some “good try” but didn’t always hit home
For real for real it was close
But no Suge cigar
Speaking of Suge
he was a 2D villain
Disney before Pixar
Jerry Heller was 4D
Sheitan pointy tale and Gaul
making deals for your art
soul in exchange for money and all.

I’ll let you unpack that
Let you unstack it all
Last words before the final call
The truth would have set you free
Now the half truth will be your downfall.

Terence Nance is an artist originally from Dallas, TX. His first feature film, An Oversimplification of Her Beauty, premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and won a Gotham Independent Film Award. The album of the same title will be released later this year.