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After polishing his organic skills, O’Shea Jackson, Jr, has earned the opportunity to portray his father, Ice Cube, in the upcoming N.W.A. biopic, Straight Outta Compton. Following intensive years of studying the art of acting with some of Hollywood’s top acting coaches, like Aaron Speiser who taught Will Smith, Susan Batson who helped to shape Nicole Kidman, and Dustin Felder who’s been entrusted to help mold Will Smith’s children’s acting chops, O’Shea’s cultivated talent will début on the silver screen on August 14.
Thankful to have been raised by his dedicated parents who he describes as “an unstoppable force,” and ever-aware of God’s enduring Grace, the rapper who’s christened himself as OMG, is about to get this movie money. Although many people immediately associate him with his father’s iconic legacy, O’Shea, Jr., has experienced a reinvigorated passion for his music. He is dedicated to sharing credible lyrics that reflect his life’s journey.
These are his words:
In the past, Hip-Hop biopics like Notorious and 8 Mile have grossed millions of dollars and helped to reinforce and launch careers; given that you’re an emerging artist – Oh My Goodness, and the son of a legendary lyricist – what really motivated you to audition for this role?
It’s my family’s legacy. When my father presented the role to me there wasn’t even a script yet. He knew that I hadn’t acted in anything before, and I needed the time to get my [acting] chops right. So, he told me about it. I’m not going to act like I jumped on it the first go. When you’ve never been in a movie and you hear that a studio like Universal is getting behind it – they make classics; hits upon hits – they’re not going to give somebody a role due to nepotism.
Of course, [F.] Gary [Gray] might be a family friend, and they go way back. He’s a big-time director and he’s not going to put his name on something that he feels is not up to par. It’s intimidating at first –like on the first two days—but then I thought of myself in a movie theater and watching someone else portray my father and me not being happy with it. That thought nauseated me. I had to take it in and really put the ball in my hands, because this is cementing my father’s and cementing my family’s legacy forever. This film will stand the test of time. My family needed for me to get this role and to make it work…
For the film, throughout the time you’ve invested into character research—
[laughs] Over 20 years of character research—
[laughs] Come on, cutty. Delving into the research, is there anything that you discovered about N.W.A. or your father that gave you’re a better appreciation for who they are as a group, or who your father is as a man?
Most of my research was to see how he acted with them. He was the young guy in the group. I know my dad as the team captain. He’s always been that leader. In N.W.A. Eazy was the leader, and my dad was the young guy. So, I was really trying to study him acting around them. It’s the same way he’s been acting. He’s still joking around and always has control of the room. So, that’s just him. And on stage he was the hypest one. He always got control of the crowd. That’s just how he is; he’s always been the same.
I was trying to knock out some of the things that I say on a day to day basis. Getting some of the ‘80’s L.A. lingo with the ‘you know what I’m sayin’,’ and the ‘mark asses;’ I had to make sure that I had that down pat. Those were the things that I would do research on. My father was very open with me; he’s always told me these stories. The thing that I took from it that I didn’t know was when he left N.W.A. he didn’t just know he was going to go solo. It wasn’t like, ‘F**k y’all, I’m about to go do this!’ He didn’t know what he was going to do. He didn’t have a plan. He didn’t have a strategy of where is going to be his next move. He saw a situation that wasn’t right, and ‘Whether or I’m with my friends. Whether or not I’m on the top of the world right now, I gotta go; because, it’s not right.’ That speaks so much to his character. He was like 18 or 19 when he did that.
Most 18 and 19 year-olds that I know would have just bit the bullet and just kept it rolling. It spoke to him in a different way. If he stayed in a situation that wasn’t right he couldn’t see himself as a complete man. That’s something that I really had to step back and look at. That just shows that no matter what year it is, before me, during me, he’s always been the same guy. He’s always stood on his own two feet. He’s always been confident in what he’s been doing. Even if he didn’t know what he was doing. That’s what I took from the movie.
As a rapper, what are your thoughts on emerging artists who use ghostwriters on their début album or début mixtape?
Personally, I feel that – it’s different when it’s a hook or bridge – but, when it comes to your verse it’s supposed to be from you. That’s supposed to come from you sitting at the table pulling out your hair; it’s you. I’m not going to speak for other artists – but I know that right then and there – when you first hear that beat, that natural high that the beat gives you can write a full verse. That’s what I expect when I hear a song.
I’m expecting to hear your hard work, your frustrations, your writer’s block, your coolness or your hipness; it’s supposed to be coming from you. If these words are not coming from inside of you then what are you telling me? With R&B that’s cool. They have writers for days; that’s different. As an MC you’re supposed to do your own thing. Really, [using ghostwriters] is the cheap way out.
What do you think about your dad writing “Boyz-N-the-Hood” for Eazy-E?
Eazy-E wasn’t a rapper. Eazy-E never claimed to be a rapper. He just had a unique voice and they had to get it on a record; so, they had to do what they had to do. When you claim to be an MC and you flat out say that; that’s different. Eazy was made into a rapper by N.W.A. He was damn near a project of the group’s entirety. He was of Ren, of Cube and Dre; that’s how I feel on that.
Have you met Drake?
No, I am a fan though.
So, do you know if he uses a ghostwriter?
Personally, I don’t know how to feel about that whole situation. Drake has mad talent; he’s a talented dude. Everybody got their jokes and their memes about him; but, you can’t deny the man’s talent. This whole situation, that’s going down with Quentin Miller and Meek Mill, I still need to do my further investigation before I can speak on something like that. You can’t deny that man’s talent or what he does. Yeah, I need to do some more investigation before I close the case.
Come on; what do you think about this on-going Black-on-Black crime? On “Back to Back,” you don’t think that Drake murdered Meek?
[ERUPTS with laughter] Oh my, God; we got to stop doing this, yo! I just hope that things are alright. We’re all Black chil’ren. I don’t know if we got to talk to Al Sharpton or if we got to get Jesse [Jackson] down here. We got to stop doing this, y’all. Gaddamn, black lives matter! [chuckles]
With this whole situation we got to see how far that goes. That first track was so-so, and that second was one was like, ‘Ueh!’ Meek’s didn’t live up to the hype because of the long build up. Drake’s first song was whatever. I want to see if Meek will come back. You know, it’s a healthy rivalry; we might get some good bars out of it. Lawdhahmercy!
Black lives matter.
Hash tag, black lives matter; get up, Meek! Meek get up.
I respect about N.W.A. collectively spoke for the have-nots. Socially, they were our champions and helped strengthen our voice.
In 2015, as a Black man, how do you process more compassion being expressed for a slaughtered lion rather than for people who are constantly being killed by the police?
Man, you know. You know the commercial where the dude looks like a [frail] Santa Claus, I don’t know his name, but the guy who’s always with the poor kids. ‘For 15 cents you can feed little Ricky.’ When the dog commercial comes on I got to pay $20. ‘I got to pay $20 to help Rex.’ The things that people see over and over again, it’s really starting to become a broken record.
All these protests, all these things like that it’s cool and whatnot; but we need to start making some solutions. We need to stop complaining and start making solutions. All throughout this press tour, my father and Gary Gray have been preaching body cams on cops and making it a felony if they do any kind of tampering—with the audio, visual – or anything with that camera. If they alter it any kind of way it should be a felony. It’s something for us to take action.
To the man from Minnesota who [killed Cecil the Lion] did it; you’re foul. We really need to take a step back and hone in what we’re doing here. Mass murders, people who shoot up theaters and churches – they’re not physically harassed. Once they’re taken into custody, at times they got more security on them than the President. We’re getting killed at traffic stops. We just really need to take a step back and look at humanity, because we need to change.
That’s something that people who are watching Straight Outta Compton is a movie that speaks to the human character. Every now and then there are things that we need to be refreshed on. As a civilization, as a society, and as a race of people we have to get our priorities straight.
Back in ’95, it seemed as though Eazy-E quickly succumbed to A.I.D.S.-related pneumonia. With his untimely passing, how did the Hip-Hop respond? Did it work to alleviate any of the stigmas that’s attached to the HIV/AIDS epidemic that’s plaguing communities of color?
When it happened it was so new at the time. It’s easy for people to brush it to the side. When you started to see the people who were affected by it – and people feel like they know you – it’s something completely else. When Magic [Johnson] contracted the [H.I.V.] virus. Then Eazy to die from it, those types of things sparked a light bulb in people. It made them more aware of it. Especially in Los Angeles, once those two were shown to have gotten it definitely raised a red flag for everybody.