Ice Cube Presents Straight Outta LA
Over the weekend in New York City, Ice Cube (accompanied by Tribeca Film Festival co-founder Robert De Niro) debuted his new ESPN documentary Straight Outta LA at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival.
The film is an ode to the Los Angeles Raiders (1982–1994), a football team that captivated the city during a time of heightened street violence, gang warfare, immigration issues and the birth of “gangsta rap.” It’s part of ESPN’s current 30 For 30 series, which features films detailing the issues, trends, athletes, teams, rivalries, games and events that transformed the sports landscape from 1979 to 2009.
Ice Cube, who directed Straight Outta LA, released a personal statement about the documentary:
“In 1980, Ronald Reagan was elected president, few white kids were listening to rap and I was an 11-year-old kid in South Central Los Angeles. I was into sports and watched as many games as I could on TV—the Lakers, USC Football, UCLA, but I hadn’t developed a connection to any particular football team. But that fall, something clicked as I watched the Oakland Raiders.
“It wasn’t just that they were good. They had style and they had swagger: the silver-and-black uniforms, the pirate logo, the players who played tougher and looked cooler than anyone else. There was Lester Hayes with his Stickum and Star Wars visor, Rod Martin flying all over the field making tackles, and owner Al Davis scowling from the stands in his white jumpsuit and thug sunglasses. When the team moved to L.A. in 1982, it was one of the greatest days of my life. My team was now in my city—and everything was about to change.
“I wanted to make this film for two simple reasons: 1) I’ve been a Raiders fan for most of my life and 2) My music career will probably always be linked, in one way or another, with the Raiders’ era in Los Angeles. The Raiders played in LA from 1982 to 1994—just 13 seasons—but during that time, the team’s colors, aura and superstar players became a phenomenon. And to put it bluntly, I had a lot to do with that.
“The music, lyrics and images that I created with NWA, as a solo artist and as an actor helped turn the Raiders into something more than a football team. It’s been 21 years since we released Straight Outta Compton, but to this day, kids all over the world buy Raiders gear, imitate the ‘Gangster Rap’ style and try to connect with the South Central LA vibe that we brought to the masses. Over the years a lot of people have written books about the history of hip-hop, the cross-marketing of sports and entertainment, and the influence of rap music on youth culture. Now it’s time for me to tell the story of how it really went down.
“And it starts with the Silver and Black.”
Delivered as a first-person narrative by Ice Cube, the film features archival footage from the era plus interviews with music icons like Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, and football greats like Marcus Allen and Howie Long.
Straight Outta LA premieres Tuesday, May 11 at 8pm EST on ESPN.
Main Photo: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images North America via Zimbio