For the stars of “Straight Outta Compton” not much has changed in terms of the tension between police and African Americans since the days of the influential rap group N.W.A.
The Universal biopic, which opens Friday, depicts the anger in the streets of South Central Los Angeles during the late 1980s — an anger that spawned the landmark group that included members like Dr. Dre, Ice Cube and Eazy-E.
Even though the film takes place nearly 30 years ago, a similar scene has been playing out throughout the year with the “Black Lives Matter” movement and protests in New York City, Baltimore, and this week in Ferguson, Missouri.
“The only thing that’s changed is, we all say, is the time and the technology. That’s it,” actor Corey Hawkins told CNN at the film’s Los Angeles premiere on Monday.
Like another film in recent months, “Selma” about the life of Martin Luther King Jr., “Compton” is being released at a time of heightened racial tension and many of the film’s scenes eerily echo what is still happening in 2015.
Hawkins, who portrays Dr. Dre, added that it’s sad about how “relevant it still is” and that all that can be done is “continue the dialogue.”
Hawkins’ co-star O’Shea Jackson Jr., who portrays his father Ice Cube in the film, conveyed this point by saying that the “only thing that’s really changed is that there’s camera phones” and social media to hold people accountable.
“With more people aware of a problem, it usually leads to a solution,” Jackson said at the premiere. “We need to start thinking of solutions because there are people in positions of power that are abusing the power, so it’s time for change.”
The low budget film, which cost Universal only $29 million, is being projected for a modest box office opening, but it is getting a lot of buzz due to good reviews and the timing of its release around the one-year anniversary of Michael Brown’s shooting in Ferguson and the subsequent protests.
The mayor of Compton, Aja Brown, told CNNMoney she hopes the movie shows the evolution of the city of Compton and of the N.W.A members who have gone on to be “businessmen, family men and being just successful contributors to society.”
But for Ice Cube there is still a vestige of the Compton attitude from 30 years ago.
“There’s enough videotape, there’s enough things out there going on now to hold these officers accountable,” Ice Cube said at the premiere. “Let’s do it. We just have to have the courage.”
CNN’s Topher Gauk-Roger and Vanessa Yurkevich contributed to this report.