Straight Outta Compton was a powerful movie on many terms as it evoked raw emotion and revealed the life and reality of the times and the circumstances that came along with the poverty, gangs and racial profiling that was surrounding the Compton area. Although there’s a ton of life lessons and things we can learn from the film, of course there’s a lot we shouldn’t take away from it either including the heavy drug use, degrading women and gang violence (these were the harsh realities of the area they lived in though). But, we are here to impose on some of the major things we CAN learn when going after our deepest dreams wholeheartedly, as did N.W.A. Even with the movie critics of Rotten Tomatoes, the movie was received very well and broke some big-time box office records, and for good reason. Here are the 10 success lessons to learn from Straight Outta Compton and the true story of N.W.A. and it’s core members Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, Ice Cube, Mc Ren, and DJ Yella….
1.) They All Took Gigantic Leaps Of Faith At Following Their Intuition:
Because their backs were against the wall, they were somewhat forced to go all in with their goals, and they took major chances because of the hunger and drive they had to “make it” in their respective dreams. Dre left his mother, brother and child to pursue his music career and was living with friends to make it happen. That unwavering faith and belief that it would all pan out was crucial to it actually manifesting. Ice Cube would split from N.W.A. to do his solo thing because of lack of loyalty from Eazy-E and Jerry Heller. Even though money was flowing and there was a pretty guaranteed money stream, he took a risk and trusted in it. The result was even more billboard success. Dre opted out after Cube and took the faith bullet which led to bigger achievements and longevity. They understood that the reason they were gaining fame and popularity was because of their own killer talent and not because of management.
2.) Dr. Dre Had The Right Dose Of Passion For Producing And An Ear For Music:
In the very beginning of the film, there was a scene showcasing Dr. Dre lying on the floor at his mom’s apartment listening to soul music and making hand gestures of playing air piano to the musical notes he was hearing in his headphones (not Beat Headphones at the time). Dr.Dre has always been intensely in love with music and sound. Even in later years we found out he directly loved making beats and producing as opposed to rap. Don’t get it wrong, he enjoyed rapping, but it’s clear that it wasn’t his direct calling and that’s why the world was so confused when he made his last rap album Still D.R.E. and never came back to the rap game, until recent. It was because he knew that deep within, his passion was making beats, producing and having a keen ear for musical talent and business too. Even in an interview with Ice-T, Dre told him his main recipe for success and for anyone else who is striving to reach their aspirations.
3.) Ice Cube Had An Extremely Competitive Ambition To Rap And Excel:
From the get-go, Cube was somewhat envious of the respect that Eazy got from crowds and fans, this made him strive that much harder to become a better rapper and lyricist. When Ice Cube realized that Eazy-E and Jerry Heller had their own secret agenda, making more money then the other hard-working members, he left straight away. Rather than pity himself or complain about the unfortunate situation, he used it as fire and motivation to rise further and farther. Ice Cube would take his rap game to a whole another level. He began breaking records and grew massive followings. The fact that he was on the outside now, made him a very ambitious man who wanted to prove just how much he believed he was worth.
4.) Eazy-E Had True Entrepreneurship Skills In His Veins:
A natural born businessman who had the touch and skills for negotiating, understanding marketing through publicity and a great net-worker who made big connections throughout his career. In the movie, we see Eazy-E as the main man who took his business mentality to new heights – from getting the group signed with Jerry Heller to using the controversial situations as publicity stunts. Eazy-E opened his own label Ruthless Records and eventually signed the Bone Thugs N Harmony who saw huge commercial success. According to other Ruthless Records artists “Blood of Abraham” “Eazy was absolutely 100% gangster, but he was in his own way. He was very quiet. Every day, he was the epitome of ‘Real bad boys move in silence’. He was very, and I’m quoting Jerry Heller, Machiavellian’. He knew power and he knew he was a businessman model to him.” He also stated “But he was completely mild mannered, completely calm. You never really heard him disrespect anybody – in how he spoke to women or how he talked to you. Totally unassuming.”
5.) NWA Spoke The Truth And Stood Up FOr What They Believed In:
With controversial lyrics and songs like ‘F**k the police’, N.W.A. was able to gain respect for speaking the truth and telling it like it was. They had many run in’s with the cops, and mostly for no particular reasoning other than the fact that they were racially profiled. This led them to a place of purpose, where the meanings behind the songs were more about freedom of speech and being able to stand confident in what they believed in. Even though their lyrics contained curse words combined with talks of drugs, gangs and sex, they stood tall in interviews to explain that it was what they saw and what was actually going on in the ghetto’s of which they were from. It was their reality and they were ‘reporters’ as such explaining what they dealt with. Very revolutionary artists in that respect. They even had some tracks that were empowering to their audiences such as ‘Express Yourself.’ When the police inform the group prior to performing at Joe Louise stadium in Detroit about not singing f**k the police, they turned around and did it anyway, because they rightfully believed that they were allowed to exercise the first amendment of ‘freedom of speech’.
6.) They All Hung Out And Surrounded Themselves With Like Minds And People Who Had The Same Vision:
They hung out together and utilized one another’s core soft and hard skills. In the beginning of the movie, we see Eazy-E not fluent with rapping, but as he is motivated and encouraged to take the mic by his fellow members and supportive friends, he begins to find his groove. In the movie, we see the true event of Dr.Dre loosing his brother to violence, the team was extremely supportive. Throughout, they had each other’s backs, if one was in trouble, the other’s would do their part to protect one another. Especially with disputes from outside haters who brought guns to their hotel room. When Cube left the group, the other members still had respect for his talent and would listen to his jams (even though some of the tracks were disses about themselves). They even hung out with other musicians such as DOC and eventually Dre would bring in other artists to his Death Row label including Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur. But more importantly, the group first came together with the same mission in mind, to create a name for themselves, make money, and do what they enjoyed along the process of getting everything they ever wanted.
7.) Thinking And Believing Past Your Current Circumstances:
They dreamed and believed in the grand vision even though they were living in poverty and poor conditions. Dre kept the spirit and enthusiasm alive even though he had a kid to take care of, because he understood that he could take better care when he had more money and time. He understood that sacrificing the present for the future was important. Eazy-E new that the drug game he was involved in wasn’t going to lead to anything major nor anything long term. So he used the money he earned from ‘the game’ and liquidated it into the group. All in all, every member of the group were struggling as artists and as individuals, but their attention and focus was constantly on what they could become.
8.) Spending Less Time With People Who Don’t Understand The Dream:
In the beginning of the movie, Dre left home and his mother, who wanted him to get a job or go to school, when neither was directly related to his real passions. His ex girlfriend couldn’t see his music career going far, so even though he was deeply saddened not to see his child, he knew he had to isolate himself from her because she was toxic to his future. Even when the studio owner of the first club they jammed out at wanted them to sing R&B slow jams, they didn’t bother with him any longer and found studio time else where. Eventually Jerry Heller and Suge Knight would also be abandoned for not sharing the same vision as the artists.
9.) Business Can Be Cut Throat Unfortunately, Make Wise Decisions:
Some of the big mistakes that the group and more notably Eazy-E made was signing contracts without thoroughly reading them, to which Jerry Heller took advantage of the group. These were some rookie mistakes that were avoidable in the beginning, but they were made because of carelessness when partying was more of a priority. Cube and eventually Dre would soon enough realize that they were getting screwed and opted out of their deals. Some major big decisions that served them in the long scope of things.
During the end of the movie, Dre also exits his relationship and record contract with aggressive and vicious music mogul Suge Knight. He made the very smart and bold decision to let Suge have his music and the money that Dre rightfully earned just so he could split with bad business. Smart move. Dre would sign huge artists to his new record label ‘After Math’ including 50 Cent, Eminem, and Kendrick Lamar. He would also join in a partnership with Beats Headphones which ultimately took him to the top of the entire hip hop game, in terms of wealth, earning nearly a billion dollars. Sometimes giving up one thing leads to bigger things. Ice Cube would also continue a long career of rap, acting and business.