Dr. Dre, Ice Cube Break Silence on N.W.A Movie, Suge Knight’s Murder Charge and a Reunion Tour (With Eminem)

I’m mustering the nerve to ask Dr. Dre and Ice Cube about the slaying that happened during the shooting of a Straight Outta Compton trailer — about the day in January when Suge Knightturned up on the set and allegedly plowed his pickup truck over two men, including a technical adviser on the film — when the lights go out.

We’re in a photo studio in Hollywood in mid-July, a month before the release of Universal’s $29 million movie telling the (mostly) true story of N.W.A, the groundbreaking hip-hop group that Dre, Cube and three other rappers — Eazy-EMC Ren and DJ Yella — formed during the 1980s. Dre, now 50, is sitting on a comfy sofa, fussing with the cuffs of his designer jeans. Thirty years ago, he was producing N.W.A’s signature song, “F— tha Police”; today, he’s a headphones tycoon who lives in Tom Brady‘s former mansion in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles. Cube, now a 46-year-old comic action actor-producer (Ride Along21 Jump Street), is leaning against a wall, sipping a cappuccino with extra sugar. A few others are picking around the Caesar salad with grilled chicken at a snack table when suddenly — wham! — there’s a loud popping sound and the place goes completely dark.

“What the f— just happened?” asks a voice that sounds like Dre’s.

“This is the zombie apocalypse,” says another. “It’s The Walking DeadThe N.W.A Edition.”

It turns out a transformer has blown on nearby Cole Street, and the whole block is without power. It will remain so for the better part of an hour. Which is how my interview with Dre and Cube and some of the actors who star in Straight Outta Compton — Corey Hawkins (who plays young Dre), O’Shea Jackson Jr. (also known as Cube’s son) and Jason Mitchell (as Eazy-E) — takes place entirely in the dark. With the only flicker of light coming from Dre’s gleaming Rolex, the producers and stars of the film talk thoughtfully — sometimes angrily — about the difficult 13-year journey it took for Straight Outta Compton to get to the screen. How it went through two studios, overcame decades-old feuds, underwent countless rewrites — not to mention an alleged vehicular homicide (“a really tragic incident,” says Dre) — and still was filming in North Hollywood as little as three weeks ago to finally emerge intact for its Aug. 14 opening date.

“It’s crazy how we were getting criticized for this years ago,” says Dre of N.W.A’s provocative songs about inner-city life. “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.”