ROYAL OAK -- N.W.A. returned to the Detroit area on Wednesday night, July 22 -- and in a much friendlier fashion than the group's most famous visit 26 years ago.
The occasion was a screening of the new biopic "Straight Outta Compton" at the Emagine Royal Oak theater, followed by a panel discussion featuring N.W.A. co-founder Ice Cube and director F. Gary Gray and moderated by Detroit rapper Big Sean. The film includes a key scene from the controversial group's August 1989 show at Detroit's Joe Louis Arena, which turned into a riot after N.W.A. flaunted a police warning not to perform its hit "F*** The Police" that night and was arrested after officers stormed the stage.
Ice Cube (real name O'Shea Jackson) certainly holds no grudges, telling the screening crowd, "Detroit, hey, y'all (have) always shown love for Ice Cube, N.W.A., Eazy-E, Dr. Dre. This is definitely one of the cities I always think of when it's time to do something hard, to do something real. I always have Detroit in my mind and in my heart." He also noted there were other factors behind N.W.A.'s attitude that night -- namely that the group was slotted to perform early as part of a package that also included LL Cool J, Slick Rick and other rappers.
"We was excited," said Ice Cube, a co-producer of the film along with N.W.A. mate Dr. Dre. "It was sold out. We wanted to show Detroit what we was all about. We had the hottest record. Our record was hotter than everybody's at the time, and people was ready to see us.
"Well, they put us on second and we was mad about that. We was like, 'Man, in Detroit people (are) gonna be just now getting to the damn building, still lined up around the corner. Some people ain't left their house by the time the second act come on,' so we was mad."
The police edict, then, only added fuel to the fire. "We (were) sick of these people telling us what to do," Ice Cube said. "The police would read us obscenity laws and tell us what they was gonna do to us if we sang 'F*** The Police', so we jsut got mad and we just did it that night and the police rushed us and they messed up a great show...and they caused a whole bunch of commotion."
Ice Cube added that an N.W.A. biopic has been "a lifelong wish," and he was happy to have made it with Gray, who he also worked with on the 1995 film "Friday," The rapper-actor's son O'Shea Jackson Jr., portrays him in "Straight Outta Compton" and was also at Wednesday's screening. which Ice Cube said was "like watching your song win the Super Bowl with the same team you won with. I'm just proud." Jackson Jr. added that, "My father's my hero...This movie without me was something I couldn't do. Seeing my family's legacy in someone else's hands -- no way."
"Straight Outta Compton" opens Aug. 14. N.W.A. broke up in 1991 and was trying to regroup at the time of Eazy-E's death in 1995. The surviving members played some shows and did a bit of recording with Snoop Dogg filling in, and there have been rumors of the group performing again -- possibly with Detroit rapper Eminem in Eazy-E's place according to Dr. Dre.
"I'm gonna let Dr. Dre confirm that about the music," Ice Cube said on Wednesday but added that "hopefully we'll do something. I'm down. You never know what's gonna happen." Then, laughing, he looked at his son and Jason Mitchell, who portrays Eazy-E in the film, and said, "They might go out before us."
Send your thoughts and comments to