With the N.W.A biopic Straight Outta Compton due out August 14th, Dr. Dre and Ice Cube sat down together for a new interview to discuss the film’s long journey to the silver screen, a potential reunion tour (with an unlikely Eazy-E replacement) and, for the first time, the Suge Knight hit-and-run. Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, Dre commented on the incident that left one person dead after the mogul stormed a promotional shoot for the N.W.A movie. “It’s just a really unfortunate incident,” says Dre. “Maybe [Knight] was looking for trouble. I don’t know.
“I was there. But I was just leaving, so I didn’t know what happened until I was halfway home,” Dre said of Knight’s fatal set visit. “I heard about it over the phone. Everybody was supportive everywhere we went, and we didn’t have one issue throughout the entire filming of the movie. It’s crazy that this happened during the fucking filming of the commercial.”
According to Rolling Stone‘s account of Knight’s downfall, the former Death Row mogul arrived on set after hearing that Straight Outta Compton had cast a “Suge look-alike” to appear in the film, and that the movie’s plot spilled into the early Death Row era. Knight, feeling someone owed him money for using his likeness without permission, headed out to the production to discuss the matter, which later turned into a shouting match and, eventually, the hit-and-run incident outside a Compton burger joint. (As The Hollywood Reporter noted, the film did add a last-minute scene where someone depicting a cigar-smoking Knight threatens another man with a pit bull.)
Dre and Ice Cube also discussed how attitudes toward hip-hop have changed in the quarter-century since N.W.A formed. While “Fuck tha Police” was a lightning rod for controversy upon its release, the pair still considered the single as vital as ever. “It was always about free speech, being able to express yourself, whether people like it or not,” Ice Cube said. “That’s the great thing about being in this country, is to be able to speak your mind and not be censored.”
“It’s crazy how we were getting criticized for this years ago,” Dre added. “And now, it’s just like, ‘OK, we understand.’ This movie will keep shining a light on the problem, especially because of all the situations that are happening in Ferguson and here in Los Angeles. It’s definitely going to keep this situation in people’s minds and make sure that everyone out there knows that this is a problem that keeps happening still today.”
While N.W.A staged a semi-reunion in June at the BET Experience concert in Los Angeles – sans the late Eazy E and Dr. Dre, who didn’t appear with Ice Cube, MC Ren and DJ Yella – there are big (but still unconfirmed) plans for the Straight Outta Compton European release: A real N.W.A reunion tour, but with Eminem, Dre’s former protégé, substituting for Eazy-E. “We don’t have anything settled yet with everyone’s schedules,” Universal head Donna Langley told The Hollywood Reporter. “But we think it can create a lot of buzz.” However, a rep for Eminem and Dre said that the duo have no plans to tour together.
Although plans for an Eminem-infused N.W.A tour are still in the works, one thing is certain: Slim Shady and Kendrick Lamar will both feature on the Straight Outta Compton soundtrack.