Straight Outta Compton tells the riveting narrative of the innovative, yet controversial group, N.W.A. (Niggaz Wit Attitudes) from 1986 to 1994. Based on Mark Ford’s N.W.A.: The World’s Most Dangerous Group (VH1 Rocks Docs, 2008), Straight Outta Compton is intense, exasperating and timely.

Largely focused around the rise and dissipation of one of the most revolutionary, fearless and uncompromising rap groups, viewers are offered an insider’s perspective of the effects of urban decay, economic disparity and the brutal impact of the Los Angeles Police Department’s (LAPD) abusive and racist strategies to combat narcotics, guns and “hoodlums.” In response, drug dealer Eric “Easy E” Wright, prolific wordsmith, O’shea “Ice Cube” Jackson and phenom DJ/ producer Andre “Dr. Dre” Young come together to articulate, chronicle and commodify the “strength of street knowledge.” Group members, Lorenzo “MC Ren” Patterson and Antoine “DJ Yella” Carraby have secondary roles. Founding member Kim “Arabian Prince” Nazel has a very brief appearance; he left the group in 1988.

The film accurately portrays the quick and unexpected national platform that N.W.A. achieved. It also displays their glorification of narcotics, gangs, guns as well as the misogynistic, hyper-masculine and hetero-normative culture that continues to diminish and discredit the influence of the strong women who raised and loved them. Sikivu Hutchinson’s provocative and poignant piece, “Straight Outta Rape Culture” gives powerful voice to many of these major issues.

Unlike other depictions of gangsta culture, Easy E is presented as a man with a conscious trying to navigate his own internal challenges. The high school-dropout turned rapper turned businessman is reckless yet sensitive and ruthless yet savvy. Ice Cube, played by his son, O’shea Jackson Jr. is shown as a young man carefully navigating the turbulent street culture with the spirit of an activist while coming into his own as a bourgeoning executive. The courage of his lyrics and his fearless grit came across cleverly as did the profound development of Dr. Dre from a local beloved DJ into a multi-platinum producer and executive. Dre’s unwavering pursuit of his talent, his eclectic musical musings and his impressive work ethic are carefully portrayed.

Straight Outta Compton displays NWA’s demonstrative impact on the entertainment industry by epitomizing the algorithm used by many subsequent artists - controversy breeds curiosity and as a result stimulates sales. For a group under attack by adults, churches, nonprofits as well as local, state and federal agencies including the FBI, this proved successful.

Managers Jerry Heller and Marion “Suge” Knight, Jr. are revealed as two self-absorbed and in the case of Knight, violent individuals who were more focused on making money by any means necessary.

The film’s release is extremely timely in the era of a national crisis around police brutality, disproportionate mass incarceration and the horrific practice of spontaneous capital punishment on black and brown bodies. In the movie, the March 3, 1991 maiming of Rodney G. King III by LAPD officers and their eventual acquittal played a critical role, yet in real life the murders of Christian Taylor, Rekia Boyd, Freddie Gray Jr., Meagan Hockaday, Anthony Hill, Aiyana Jones, Michael Brown, Jr. and over 320 others at the hands of police officers in 2015 alone makes Straight Outta Compton even more important to view, reflect upon and dialogue about as we wrestle with Ferguson, Baltimore, Chicago and many other hot locales across the country. The most haunting and unsettling moments of the movie project what could easily be scenes from the streets of Ferguson during the summers of 2014 and 2015. Almost 30 years later, let us stop repeating history and join together to end the painful cycles of violence, oppression as well as race & gender based discrimination. Let us commit to liberty and justice for all so that these real life stories are a part of our past and not our present.

Emmett G. Price III, Ph.D. is a pastor, professor and weekly contributor to WGBH’s Boston Public Radio “All Revved Up” segment. He is the author of Hip Hop Culture and editor of several works including The Black Church and Hip Hop Culture: Toward Bridging the Generational Divide. Follow him on Twitter @EmmettGPriceIII