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Music Biopics That Hit All the Right Notes

Straight Outta Compton was a straight-up phenomenon.

When the biopic—a depiction of the rise and fall of the groundbreaking gangsta rap group N.W.A.—arrived in theaters on Aug. 14, 2015, its reception at the box office blew everyone away. Making $24.1 million on opening day alone—the fourth biggest August opening day ever at the time—the film continued to make history as the weekend progressed. In those first few days, its $60.2 million windfall marked the fifth-best August opening weekend of all time, the highest August opening for an R-rated film, and the highest for a musical biopic ever. 

Not only that, but it also gave F. Gary Gray the best opening by a film with an African-American director—a record that would stand until Gray surpassed himself with 2017’s The Fate of the Furious.

With N.W.A. members Ice Cube and Dr. Dre, along with the late Eazy-E‘s widow Tomica Woods-Wright, on board as producers—not to mention MC Ren and DJ Yella attached as creative consultants—fans responded to the Universal Pictures film’s honest portrayal of the group, even if it did sidestep some of the misogyny and homophobia they’d been accused of over the years.

Critics, too, found themselves enamored with the film, especially the breakthrough performance by O’Shea Jackson Jr., who made his film debut playing a younger version of his dad, Ice Cube.

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