U. City ignores undertones of ‘Straight Outta’ phrase


Thompson Brown, senior, reps his “Straight Outta U City” hoodie on Oct. 30 in the hallway. “The theme of the shirts was a great idea since ‘Straight Outta Compton’ was a popular movie this year,” said Brown.

Payton Bass, Web Editor

Every school year brings a new wave of T-shirts sold by sports teams and organizations, such as field hockey, homecoming, Gay/Straight Alliance and others, all selling school spirit for about $15. This year, a new T-shirt was added to the line-up. Straight Outta U. City. The design of the T-shirts mimic the design used for the movie “Straight Outta Compton.”

Although the attempt at raising school spirit is admirable, it is questionable why we are intentionally associating ourselves with “Straight Outta Compton,” a movie and album that endorses frowned-upon behaviors.

Behind “Straight Outta U-City” is the all too obvious influence of “Straight Outta Compton.” “Straight Outta Compton” is so much more than a recent hit film. It is the debut album by the hip hop group N.W.A, released August 9, 1988. The album “Straight Outta Compton” has been viewed as the pioneering record of “gangsta rap,” with ever-present profanity and violent lyrics.

“When I look at the ‘Straight Outta Compton’ lyrics, I don’t want us to be associated with ‘Straight Outta Compton,’” said Rashida Miller, counselor. “The song lyrics from ‘Straight Outta Compton’ are horrible. There’s lots of profanity, talking about the police and fighting.”

Although it is an unconventional association, the connection seems to fit with our predominantly black high school. I appreciate the radicalism of the album. I appreciate the authenticity of the album. We just about always fail to remember in this society that anger is a natural response to oppression. Black guys are the most oppressed group of people in America. They’ve got it worse than anybody. With that in mind, it’s only realistic for anger to be a prominent component in an album made by five black guys rapping about life from their perspectives.

The album “Straight Outta Compton” features the single “F*** Tha Police,” which protests against police brutality and racial profiling. Furthermore, the shooting of Michael Brown occurred on August 9, 2014, in Ferguson, Missouri, a North County suburb of St. Louis. Brown, an 18-year-old black male, was fatally shot by Darren Wilson, a white police officer. The death of Michael Brown essentially sparked a black power movement rebirth all over the country. At such a time when racial tensions are at a continual high, and our city is broadly considered to be the one which ignited the explosion of all that tension just one summer ago, I see distinct purpose in our predominantly black high school associating with “Straight Outta Compton.”

“I don’t see anything wrong with this high school associating itself with “Straight Outta Compton,” said Andrew Walz, English teacher. “I think the film came out at a really important time in history in which there’s an ongoing conversation in our culture on police violence directed towards young African American men. I think what the film shows and what N.W.A’s music represents is perhaps the genesis of this dialogue and the Black Lives Matter movement.”

Generally no one seems to be thinking that much into the “Straight Outta” phrase, unless provoked. Even though the “Straight Outta” phrase is linked to negative connotations, the school T-shirts have been a huge hit among students and staff, a success in promoting school and community spirit. This lack of thought to the deeper meanings represented by this phrase means going forward as individuals, and more to the point as a school we need to look deeply into what we’re associating ourselves with, keeping in mind there’s always more than meets the phrase.