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Networks in Straight Outta Compton

-Warning: This blog contains spoilers from the movie Straight Outta Compton.

Over the past month, the movie “Straight Outta Compton” has opened to critical acclaim garnering over $170 million on a production cost of only $28 million. The biopic recounts story of the rap group N.W.A., their rise from the rough streets of Compton, California to their eventual falling out. Beginning in 1986, a group of friends consisting of Eric Wright (Eazy-E), Andre Young (Dr. Dre), O’Shea Jackson (Ice Cube), Lorenzo Patterson (MC Ren), and Antoine Carraby (DJ Yella) get together to create the single “Boyz-N-the-Hood” which turns out to be a successful hit. The group is then managed by Jerry Heller and signed to Priority Records releasing their first album “Straight Outta Compton.” Disputes between contracts and royalties lead to Ice Cube leaving the group to pursue a solo career, later followed by Dr. Dre. Before the group could get back together, Eazy-E passed away after being diagnosed with AIDS. N.W.A. is remembered as pioneers in popularizing rap music and bringing it to the mainstream audience, and Ice Cube and Dre, notably, went on to have very successful careers.

After learning about structural balance and triadic closure, the pervasiveness of networks becomes very apparent and applicable to the movie. To begin with, the rise of the group can be attributed to triadic closure as Eazy-E had strong ties with MC Ren who he connected to Cube and Dre. Furthermore, the movie also incorporates the impacts the Rodney King trial and the consequential LA riots. There is a scene where Eazy-E is profoundly impacted by the news reports of Bloods and Crips (opposing LA gangs) protesting hand in hand against the police abuse of Rodney King. While Bloods and Crips are definitely enemies, they also are enemies with the police after such an event as what happened with Rodney King. As the structural balance property relates, a triangle with everyone being enemies of each other is unbalanced, and as would be predicted two of the nodes, namely the Bloods and Crips, create a form of “friendship” putting their differences aside in the name of a common enemy. Finally, structural balance could also have been used to predict Ice Cube’s departure from the group. While Eazy-E was friends with both Cube and manage Jerry Heller, Cube had an antagonistic relationship with Heller. Such a triangle is unbalanced resulting in Cube leaving the group and turning his edge with Eazy-E from friendship into enmity.

Thus, learning the different aspects of networks has given a new perspective on many concepts including movies and historical events.


Straight Outta Compton IMDB page

Straight Outta Compton Wikipedia page



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