It was one of my most anticipated movies of the summer, and damn if it didn't deliver. The N.W.A. biopic "Straight Outta Compton" is both slickly entertaining and a worthwhile bio of the group that made gangsta rap a thing. It's both nostalgic and uncannily relevant.

It was one of my most anticipated movies of the summer, and damn if it didn't deliver. The N.W.A. biopic "Straight Outta Compton" is both slickly entertaining and a worthwhile bio of the group that made gangsta rap a thing. It's both nostalgic and uncannily relevant.

It's no surprise that it's a loving tribute - producers include Dr. Dre, Ice Cube and Eazy-E's widow Tomica Woods-Wright - but seeing the group's rise and continuing impact over the course of 2 1/2 hours also makes you realize how important and radical N.W.A. truly was.

We're introduced to the primaries in Compton, California, in 1986. Eazy-E (Jason Mitchell) is a mid-level drug dealer who feels life in the game isn't going to end well. Dr. Dre (Corey Hawkins) is a DJ with an ear for beats ("Spinning records ain't gonna pay the bills," says his mom in a bit of humorous foreshadowing). Ice Cube (O'Shea Jackson Jr.) is a high-school kid who writes rhymes in a well-worn notebook on the school bus. The group is rounded out by MC Ren (Aldis Hodge) and DJ Yella (Neil Brown Jr.), who get about the same short shrift in the movie they are in this intro.

We see N.W.A. rise to success, a massive tour - with some of the best concert recreations since Oliver Stone's fanboy gushfest "The Doors" - and their eventual splintering.

The 2 1/2 hours of "Compton" are fantastically paced (it feels much shorter), full of well-placed humor and packed with moments that make it a time capsule of West Coast rap. N.W.A. recorded one album (their seminal debut that shares the name of the film) as a full unit, but we see elements of what would become five or more of the greatest hip-hop albums of the '90s.

This is a legacy film, for sure. You've got the original members signing off, F. Gary Gray behind the director's chair (who is still most famous for Cube's comedic turn "Friday") and even Ice Cube's son playing Ice Cube.

But while the album Straight Outta Compton is coming up on its third decade, its influence is felt everywhere. The current world's most relevant rapper (Kendrick Lamar, don't argue) is from Compton and cut his teeth on this. The themes of police harassment couldn't be much timelier. This is a movie about the past and the present.