In these times when you search for something online and an ad for the very same thing that you searched for pops up on your Facebook Timeline the next day, it’s hard to believe in coincidences.So I had my suspicions when Unsolved debuted on Netflix a few days after I had watched Straight Outta Compton, but I shook them off ultimately as within my humanly possible powers of deduction I could not find any logical links between the two events and I made peace with the possibility that I had indeed been a benefeciary of a genuine coincidence.Straight Outta Compton told the tale of the rise of hip-hop as we know it and how it changed the lives of a couple of youngsters and the music industry altogether.Unsolved was about the untimely and tragic demise of two of the most influential proponents of the genre, Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G., whose lives , art and deaths were intertwined for eternity.
Ice Cube,Eazy E and Dr. Dre who joined ranks to form N.W.A were pioneers in the genre who spoke to the world through their music.These were angry young men who used art to hit back at the oppressive system, especially the policing.In terms of the politics it represented, ‘Gangsta Rap’ was the new rock music. F.Gary Gray traces their initial days, fallouts and the eventual disbanding in Straight Outta Comtpon.It also gives us a glimpse of the business of hip hop music. Ice Cube, portrayed by his real life son comes across as the one with a business acumen that’s second only to Dr.Dre’s in the group.He bails out of N.W.A early on, over financial differences with the rest of the members.Eazy E is a tragic figure who trusted the wrong person and later succumbs to a terminal disease, on the verge of a reunion. Dr.Dre who went on to mentor many big names in the business today is the most ambitious of the lot. N.W.A ran into trouble with the police on a regular basis for the politics their music blared.They were banned by radios but they had already captured the imagination of a generation of music listeners which reflected in their records sales and their ultimate success. Music was a way out for these boys and they believed in themselves and their art when most of the world refused to address them as artists.True to the politics of the artists it portrayed, Straight Outta Compton was also in the news for being snubbed by most major award ceremonies including the Oscars.
Unsolved deals with the lives and deaths of Tupac Shakur and Christopher Wallace aka Notorious B.I.G. Wallace and Tupac were contermporaries in work and by a strange twist of fate ended up on the wrong sides of the East Coast- West Coast rivalry. They had contrasting approaches to music too. Tupac was again heavily political in his lyrics. Biggie on the other hand was known as a storyteller.Both of them were close to their mothers who were strong influences in their lives.Tupac was gunned down in a drive by shooting in 1996 and the next year Biggie was killed in a similar shooting.Unsolved traces the attempts of the law enforcement personnel involved to solve these murders.To date, the murders remain unsolved and the show has dual narratives, one from the time of the murders and the other from the investigation launched by a Federal Task Force in response to a lawsuit filed by Wallace’s mother against the LAPD.The show tells us how the events affected the lives of the people who investigated the murders too.The task force follows every lead and also try to gather informaiton from the investigations by the troibled cop, Russel Poole who ended up an outcast amongst his colleagues for the stands he took.
Suge Knight, the record producer is one looming figure who appears in both Straight Outta Compton and Unsolved. An extremely influential player in the business at the peak of his career, Knight has a presence in all the theories that are in circulation, related to the deaths of Tupac and Biggie.He was also charged for allegedly threating F. Gary Gray, the director of Straight Outta Comptoon because he was unhappy with the way he was portrayed in the film.Knight was riding alongside Tupac on that fateful night and still there are conspiracy theories afloat that implicate him in both murders.There are also people who believe that the investigating agencies were worried more about saving their own faces rather than solving the murders as it turned out that some of the cops were on the payroll of the music moguls, when they moonlighted as secuirty for the artists. Tupac was 25 and Biggie was 24 when they were slain in the streets.The fame, success and influence they garnered across the globe in their short lives is only surpassed by the mystery that shrouds their deaths.