‘Surviving Compton: Dre, Suge and Michel’le’ Review

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Real talk, folks that aren’t African-American and/or weren’t around during the early 1990s may not remember Michel’le.  She received a lot of airplay on R&B stations back in the day, along with the likes of Surface, Skyy, Keith Sweat and Al B. Sure!  When I was in third grade, you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing Michel’le’s songs “No More Lies” and “Something in My Heart” playing on the radio.  It wasn’t until recently that I learned that she was a part of Ruthless Records, the same label owned by Jerry Heller and Easy-E, which also launched N.W.A.  I also recently learned that Michel’le and Dr. Dre had a serious relationship during the height of her career…and that Dre horribly abused her for years.  Michel’le finally got to tell the story that unbeknownst to me, she’s been telling for years, in Lifetime’s TV biopic, Surviving Compton:  Dre, Suge and Michel’le.

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In Surviving Compton, the story is told through Michel’le’s eyes, and we learn things that were conveniently left out of Straight Outta Compton.  The story reveals how Michle’le got her start with Ruthless Records, and eventually ended up dating Dr. Dre.  At first, Michel’le’s career is skyrocketing and her relationship with Dre is a sweet and caring one.  However, Dre’s drinking and puffin’ on the good stuff starts to increase, and all hell breaks loose.  Thanks to bad advice from her well-meaning, but completely clueless grandmother, Michel’le continues dating Dre and even moves in with him, although his violence towards her escalates more and more.   Michel’le tries her best to keep her career going in spite of the beatings she suffers at Dre’s hands, which lead to her own substance abuse problems.  She eventually meets Suge Knight, who treats Michel’le like a queen…at first.  Suge and Michel’le eventually end up in a relationship themselves, and Michel’le soon learns that she pretty jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire.

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Surviving Compton was a very enjoyable film.  There were some slight flaws (i.e. Suge Knight watching news footage of Tupac being shot in Las Vegas when he was actually in the car with ‘Pac when he was killed), but for the most part, it was a great movie.  For the last three or four years, Lifetime movies have fallen off, especially the biopics.  The June Carter movie was shit (sorry, Jewel), and the Aaliyah movie was just as bad, if not worse.  But Surviving Compton was very engaging, and never had a dull moment.  I actually learned some new bits of trivia in this film, like the fact that Michel’le is close friends with Tichina Arnold (aka Pam from Martin), and that her first single was “Turn Off the Lights” with World Class Wreckin’ Cru.  I’d heard that song a million times when I was little, but I never knew who sang it.  Rhyon Nicole Brown did a fantastic job as Michel’le.  I’ve liked her ever since her days as Lizzie in Lincoln Heights, and as usual, she delivered.  Rhyon had Michel’le’s high pitched voice down pat!  At first, I wasn’t sure if I’d like Michle’le narrating the film in person, but it worked for the film, especially when she got emotional after reliving the first time Dre assaulted her.  Just as he did in Straight Outta Compton, actor R. Marcos Taylor reprised his role as Suge Knight, and delivers once again as the evil CEO of Death Row Records.  A surprising treat was seeing Jamie Kennedy play the late Jerry Heller.  Was he as good as Paul Giamatti?  No, but Jamie still did his thing.  Last but not least, cutie Curtis Hamilton did an excellent job playing the more sinister side of Dr. Dre.

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What I really liked about Surviving Compton is that it not only tells Michel’le’s story, but it also gives us the darker side of Dre’s story, warts and all, unlike its more well known counterpart, Straight Outta Compton.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  I loved Straight Outta Compton (that’s cutie Corey Hawkins playing Dre in SOC in the pic above), and I’ve always been a fan of Dre’s (although this movie really has me giving him the side eye), but there was one thing about the movie that got to me just a little bit—and I’ve told friends and family members this a few times—Dre was portrayed as Dudley Do Right in the major motion picture.  Never mind the fact that the film didn’t have any focus on Dre’s relationship with Michel’le or his violent encounter with Dee Barnes, but they even made sure to overlook Dre’s beef with Easy-E.  As a matter of fact, everyone else’s faults and shortcomings were portrayed in the film except Dre’s.  Surviving Compton, on the other hand, displayed everyone’s faults.  Not only did it show Michel’le’s naivety and bad choices in men, and how Dre pounded his fist into the poor girl’s face on a regular basis, but it also showed how the members of N.W.A, some of the hardest men on Earth—or so we were led to believe—watched their friend get beat up right in front of them, and they did nothing.  Only Easy came to Michel’le’s defense, whereas the other men were too scared, embarrassed or too apathetic to do anything.

As much as I enjoyed this film, I have to say that it’s left me a bit torn.  I’ve loved Dr. Dre since I was 11 years old, and I’m still a big fan of his music and overall genius, but as I said before, I have to give him the side eye now.  He apologized for his repulsive behavior towards women last year right before Straight Outta Compton was released, but in the same vein, he also tried to silence Michel’le when he learned she was making this film.  Of course, now that I’ve seen the backlash that he’s been receiving since the movie was released, I can see why he was so desperate to keep Michel’le quiet.  Folks that saw Surviving Compton have been draggin’ Dre’s ass up and down Twitter and Instagram.  Just look at this:

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Dang.  Sweetie pie, I hope for your sake you really are sorry, because despite the fact that all this happened over twenty years ago, I have a feeling you’re not gonna be able to bounce back from this hate too easily.  Hell, I’m not so sure if I want Beats by Dre headphones now (and yes, I’ve heard that damn “Beats by Dre has a new meaning” joke).  On one hand, I’m pretty disgusted with Dre, but on the other hand, they do a damn good job of canceling out background noise and making the audio more vibrant.  Seriously, those are some damn good headphones!

In all seriousness, Surviving Compton was a very good film, and a throwback to the greatness that was once the Lifetime channel.  So if you’re a fan of Michel’le, Lifetime movies, N.W.A, or Straight Outta Compton, I highly recommend this film.  Check it out.

By the way, is it me, or are they finding the cutest men to play Dr. Dre?

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—Written by Nadiya

So what did you think about Surviving Compton:  Dre, Suge and Michel’le?  Was it as good or as interesting as Straight Outta Compton?  Are you still a fan of Dr. Dre’s after seeing it?  Do you believe Michel’le did the film strictly for attention, or because she felt as if the whole truth needed to be put out there?  Do you think Dre deserves all the hate he’s getting on Twitter and Instagram, even though all this happened in the late ’80s and early ’90s?  Let me know in the comments!

Top 10 Worst Sequels

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Hey, y’all!  Yes, I’m still alive.  I’m so sorry I haven’t been around for the last two months.  I’ve been extremely busy with my day job, as well as my other writing assignments.  I haven’t forgotten about y’all.  To be honest, lately I’ve been so inwardly stressed about not being able to do all my writing projects that I’ve had trouble digesting food.  No lie.  Frankly speaking, my time on here will be sporadic, thanks to the long hours at my job and the amount of time it takes me to get to and from work.  The only reason I have time to finish this post now is because thanks to Hurricane Matthew (we got most of the week off.  I would’ve finished this sooner, but we lost power all day yesterday due to that damn storm).  However, I promise that I’m not givin’ up on y’all.  I may not be postin’ once a week like I used to, but you will still here from me.  Bet on it.  Now, on to the article!

A little while ago, I watched the film The Huntsman:  Winter’s War.  Now, unlike most folks, I greatly enjoyed Snow White and the Huntsman, and y’all know how much I love Chris Hemsworth, so I was sure that I’d enjoy the sequel.  I couldn’t have be more wrong.  It wasn’t the worst sequel I ever watched, but Lord knows it wasn’t the best, and I had no desire to watch the film again.  The continuity was all screwed up, and they completely diluted The Huntsman’s character to a happy-go-lucky jokester.  Ugh.  After watching the movie, I couldn’t help but think to myself, “What are the worst sequels I’ve ever watched?”  It inspired me to make a top 10 list that I’m finally presenting to y’all today!  So, here it is!

10.  Graffiti Bridge

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Now, y’all know how much I love Prince…but this movie is shit.  I knew it when I was 10 years old, and I know it now.  If Prince didn’t come out and say that Graffiti Bridge was a sequel to Purple Rain, we’d probably never know it.  Aside from Prince, Morris and Jerome returning to the cast (and Jill; forgot about her for a sec), there’s hardly any connection between the two films.  Crazy lookin’ sets, an even crazier plot, and what the heck happened to Apollonia?  She’s not even mentioned!  Skip this one, or at least watch it on mute (Prince is so cute in it).

9.  Speed 2:  Cruise Control

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Speed was an exciting movie with explosive chemistry between the two leads and an unforgettable villain.  Speed 2:  Cruise Control was a dull movie with zero chemistry between the two leads and a completely forgettable villain.  Seriously, the only things I remember about this film is Sandra Bullock elbowin’ Willem Dafoe in the face (that was the only badass scene in the whole film), the ship crashing through the city, and thinking that Jason Patric couldn’t hold a candle to Keanu Reeves.  Sorry, Jason.

8.  Pirates of the Caribbean:  At World’s End

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Folks love to give Pirates of the Caribbean:  On Stranger Tides all kinds of hell, but I actually liked that film!  At World’s End was much worse!  In my opinion, On Stranger Tides went back to basics, whereas At World’s End was completely overblown and ridiculous.  This movie had the ship capsizing to go from one world to another, Elizabeth being elected the pirate queen, the crew “trapping” the goddess Calypso (by the way, who didn’t predict that Tia Dalma was actually Calypso?), a million Jack Sparrows running around, a big showdown between The Black Pearl and The Flying Dutchman (all while performing a wedding ceremony), another big showdown between The Black Pearl and the East India Trading Company (although I must admit, that ass kickin’ was kind of cool)…ugh, the list goes on and on!  Then the movie was nearly three hours long!  Have y’all ever heard the phrase, “Less is more?”  And I thought Dead’s Man Chest brought everything but the kitchen sink!  Lord!

7.  Once Upon a Time In Mexico

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When Once Upon a Time In Mexico was released the summer of 2003, I remember Salma Hayek saying, “It’s been seven years since we did a follow up to Desperado, and this film is seven times better than [the previous one].”  Why do actors lie to get us in the theatres?  Why not just make a good film?  In this case, the lie worked, and instead of me walking out the movie theatre hyped up, I walked out with a splitting headache.  Like At World’s End, this movie had too much going on, it was just executed in a different way.  Instead of too many over-the-top events going on, Once Upon a Time In Mexico decided to have fifty million characters introduced in the movie, each with their own storyline!  Ironically enough, Johnny Depp was the best thing about this film.  Antonio Banderas was pretty much wasted in his own film, sadly enough.  I hated how El Mariachi immediately went from being an ass kickin’ vigilante seeking to avenge his wife and daughter’s death (and why did he have to go through more heartbreak!?) to one of the “sons of Mexico” on a mission to protect the president.  Ugh.  Give me El Mariachi and Desperado any day of the week.  You what’s really sad?  El Mariachi probably cost all of $20,000 to make, and it’s vastly superior to this hot mess.

6.   Rocky V

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This is where the Rocky franchise started to go left.  First off, Rocky loses all his money, thanks to him allowing Paulie to handle his finances.  For all fans of the franchise, I ask this question:  Who in their right mind would allow Paulie’s silly ass to handle his finances!?  Secondly, Rocky moves back to his old neighborhood, falls out with his now teenage son—although just before he left for Russia to fight Ivan Drago, his son was about seven years old—and takes in some ungrateful redneck to train him for the big time.  In short, this film was boring and a pale shadow of what the franchise was.  Even the “big fight” at the end was just meh.

5.  Transformers:  Revenge of the Fallen

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This movie probably shouldn’t be on the list, because quite frankly, I didn’t watch the entire film.  I fell asleep on it, and I when I woke up again I had no desire to finish watching it.  Like a lot of the movies on this list, it had too much going on.  I only watched it once, so I can’t even remember all the shit that happened, I just remembered it was a lot of shit, and it didn’t impress me.  Not only that, but I got tired of all Megan Fox’s gratuitous booty shots, and if I heard Shia Lebeouf’s roommate scream like a woman one more time, I was gonna come through the damn TV and slap the hell out of him.

 4.  Ghostbusters II

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You know, The Karate Kid Part 3 was set to take the number four spot on this list, but as I was typing this out, I remembered…Ghostbusters II was much worse.  Folks love to put down the Ghostbusters reboot and credit it for ruining the franchise, but they seem to forget how horrendous Ghosbusters II was.  I adored the first installment (still do), and when this movie came out during my grade school years, I couldn’t wait to see it…and I was sorely disappointed.  This movie was full of lame jokes, a crazy plot (even for a comedy/sci-fi film), and even a corny theme song (sorry, Bobby Brown).  They even committed the cardinal sin of sequels:  rehashing all the jokes/plot lines from the original film.  God, I can’t stand that.

3.  Breaking Dawn Pt. 1

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Yes, I’m a fan of the Twilight franchise; the books and the films (the books more so than the movies).  Just like with the books, I was greatly enjoying the film franchise until it got to Breaking Dawn.  I wasn’t surprised, mind you.  The book was shit, and as Elvis once said, “you can’t polish a turd.”  Just like the Breaking Dawn novel, the movie was fine until Bella got preggo with that demon spawn.  Then it all went to hell.  It even had the gall to take it a step further.  I can deal with wolves communicating telepathically, but when they have hybrid human/wolf voices to do it, it’s time to change the channel.  And I still can’t stomach Edward giving Bella that damn C-section with his doggone teeth.

2.  Batman and Robin

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*Sigh*  Lord, give me strength…  There’s really no need of beating around the bush.  Batman and Robin is a horrible movie, and it completely ruined the franchise, plain and simple.  It’s the epitome of cheesy.  Cheesy writing, cheesy plots, cheesy sets, cheesy one-liners, cheesy acting—it’s enough to make you constipated.  And that sad excuse of a Batmobile?  Lord, have mercy!  This movie actually ruined some of the actors’ careers.  For some reason George Clooney—and to some extent, Arnold Schwarzenegger—walked away unscathed.  The only good thing about this movie is that it was such a bomb that there was practically no where else to go but up, and the The Dark Knight franchise rose from the ashes of this turkey.

1.  The Matrix Revolutions

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I’m getting sick to my stomach just thinking about this movie.  When The Matrix Reloaded was released, I was disappointed, but I was still anxious to find out what would happen with Neo and Trinity in the next installment.  What happened was a hot ass mess.  The dialog was even more cryptic and convoluted, the plot was boring as well as confusing, and the movie was dragged out to a torturous three hour run time, that felt more like five hours.  When the film finally got to the scene we were all waiting for—the big fight between Neo and Agent Smith—it was just as disappointing as the rest of the film.  Just a long, dull, drawn out mess.  Then, to top it all off, the ending wasn’t exactly happy.  After all that nonsense I sat through, y’all could’ve at least allowed Neo and Trinity to live happily forever after in Zion.  I walked out of that theatre with a flattened ass, severe aggravation, and a date who complained about paying for the mess we just watched.  Y’all should’ve just stuck with one damn movie.

Whew!  That was tough!  So tell me, do you agree with my list?  What movies do you think are the worst sequels ever?  Let me know in the comments section!

Oh, yeah.  Get out  and vote this November!