Film scores

Soundtrack review: Straight outta Compton (Joseph Trapanese – 2015)

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“Straight Outta Compton” is a 2015 American biographical drama film directed by F. Gary Gray about the rise and fall of the Compton, California hip hop group N.W.A. The film borrows its title from the name of their 1988 debut studio album and the album’s title track. Straight Outta Compton stars O’Shea Jackson, Jr. as Ice Cube (Jackson is Ice Cube’s son in real life), Corey Hawkins as Dr. Dre, Jason Mitchell as Eazy-E, and Paul Giamatti as N.W.A’s manager Jerry Heller. Among the film’s producers are Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, and Eazy-E ’​s widow, Tomica Woods-Wright, with MC Ren and DJ Yella as creative consultants. Even if I am a rocker the rap culture of the 80s and 90s was very present in my formative years and I’ve listened to a lot of Dre, Snoop or Ice Cube. I’ve also read a lot about NWA and their influence so I will definitely see the movie. Joseph Trapanese wrote the score and I was very curious how his sound would fit a story like this.

The opening cue “Police bust” was an easy one. Trapanese does what he does best on this one and raises the adrenaline level. Very soon it all starts making sense to me because he knows how to do reflective music like no other and “Dre and Tyree” warms me up inside. I like how the music develops and how the composer plays with different degrees of depth and emotion without losing sight of the wire that ties this score together. His music makes me feel for the characters and makes me feel like I am part of that block. I know it’s California but the score makes me think of wind, rain and hardships.

With me you can rarely go wrong with a reflective and atmospheric score. Joseph Trapanese took the inward road with this one instead of focusing on the turmoil and turbulence outside and the music makes me even more eager to watch the movie. “News from home” just floors me and makes me think of one of my favorite scores ever which Trapanese was also involved in, “Oblivion”.

The composer’s favorite musical weapons are blazing in this score. When the music gets loud it pierces and stabs and when it gets melodic it makes me want to close my eyes and dream. The puppet master switches between melodic, quiet and aggressive and pushes the right buttons inside me. The music speaks to me and I understand what it says. Everything makes sense and I can hardly find any fault in this score. If you want to sample the score and convince yourselves, try “We were brothers” and feel the weight and emotion of this small insert.

Fans of Joseph Trapanese will love this one for sure. If I weren’t already a fan of his music though, “Straight outta Compton” would surely have sealed the deal. If you are in the mood for a beautiful and heartfelt score you shouldn’t miss this one.

Cue rating: 96 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 24 / 30

Album excellence: 82%

Highlights:

Police Bust

Dre And Tyree

News From Home

Detroit

Give Me My Money

We Were Brothers

Uprising

Reflections

Dre Chase

Without Jerry

Legacy

About the author

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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