Ice Cube is one of the most famous rappers of all time and part of one of the most famous rap groups of all time (NWA). More recently, Cube is more well known for his role in movies, starring, acting and now directing. Cube is on the verge of releasing a documentary for ESPN on the LA/Oakland Raiders. The movie will explore the connection between the Los Angeles Raiders and rap music. If you follow rap music like I did (still do), Cube and NWA brought the gangsta to gangsta rap, they were the first rappers wearing Raider hats, Raider Jackets and made mainstream America believe wearing that stuff made you gangsta. The team’s persona became a part of South Central and the Hip Hop culture within Los Angeles. Ice Cube played a huge part in the branding of the Raiders by wearing as much paraphernalia as possible. Ice Cube was rarely caught without wearing a Raiders hat, jersey, or the proud colors of black and silver. Even if it wasn’t all of America, at least it was me and some of my buddies thinking we were bad wearing a Raider hat, I did.
The common theme for rappers and common folks back in the beginning days of gangsta rap was wearing those clothes and stuff, made you a bad ass. This started to make rap a top genre in music. I don’t think most people can relate to the actual music, unless you lived in the society that the rappers lived in, but listening to the music and having the gear as well made you believe you understood the music. The underlying thought from this was how closely related music and sports were and are today. How they feed off each other also. You see highlights from sports with music under them and you see plenty of rappers wearing sports threads.
Asked about how this documentary came together with ESPN:
“I am a kid in the candy store when it comes to this stuff right here. I am a big time sports fan, of course a big time Raider fan. ESPN approached me and told me about the 30 for 30 series that they were doing. I saw what Spike (Lee) did with the Kobe Doing Work, and I said I am in. They said what do you want to do it about? So I thought about it and I wanted to do something that was dear to my heart in a lot of ways, so I wanted to do something on the L.A Raiders and the influence that team had on L.A hip hop and also what influence L.A had on the Raiders. So I started mixing up all these ideas and came up with straight out of L.A. Which basically is the parallel of N.W.A and what we were doing on what the Raiders were doing on the field. The Raider’s image was more about what L.A was about from my point of view than the Lakers, Dodgers and the Rams.”
Asked about the parallel with Al Davis and the way he ran the team:
“I love the way Al runs the team. People give Al a lot of grief, but Al is an old AFL guy. The NFL tried to bury the AFL for years and finally when the AFL caught up and was about to pass these guys, a couple of owners took the league and tried to merge behind Al’s back. So he has been an outlaw ever since. He is going to do it his way, he has won three championships his way, and I love how the Raiders are run.”
Asked about the perception that Raiders fans act like the rap group and want to be gangsters:
“Raiders fans were gangsters way before we came into the picture. We (NWA) came out in 1989; the Raiders had done a lot of damage, as far as leaning towards the outlaw mentality way before we came along. I can’t say we turned the Raider fans into gangsters, they were already dangerous.”