Thrillist: You nailed the Los Angeles dialect, the way that people talk in South Central. You're from there, but how did you get your actors to hit that and to make it feel authentic to not only the location, but the time period?
John Singleton: It's what I call an LA twang. A lot of those people who lived in those times immigrated from Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi. The kids had a little twang to their voices, a kind of cadence to their voices. So, we had them listen to different hip-hop artists, the way they talk. Not totally Southern, but not totally clear at all.
That's the thing most people don't know about Los Angeles. People speak differently in different parts of the city or the county.
Singleton: Depending on where their people are from.
Exactly. You also capture the period really well. What was it about 1983 specifically that you wanted to hit on with the rise of the crack epidemic in America?
Singleton: I really wanted to see the transition from what we saw in my first movie, Boyz n the Hood, to how it got that way. That's what I'm concentrating on. When kids could play in the streets. There were no bars on the homes. People didn't really gate in their homes at the time. Really going from that sense of the neighborhood being kind of open-ended. The lady across the street could tell your mother, "Your boy was doing bad," and she wouldn't have any fear.
All these families were transported from the South, so it was like a village. Watts had different villages, but that all changed with crack cocaine. We had gangs, even at that time, but when crack cocaine came, it exacerbated gang culture, because people were in business. They had to fight over territory for business purposes. It was like, "Don't come over here, because you're messing with my money." You're not gonna take my market share over here.