Ice Cube's 'Straight Outta L.A.' leaves a few things out

Straight Outta L.A. failed to tell not only the whole story of the Los Angeles Raiders but even Ice Cube himself came up short in telling the complete story of West Coast Hip Hop.

It goes without saying that there are many hurdles (see producing a documentary about Gangsta Rap for Disney as exhibit A) to overcome in making a piece such as the one Cube Vision undertook. O’Shea Jackson should be proud of all he’s accomplished and the city of Los Angeles should be equally proud to call him a Native Son.

Cube, much like Al Davis, is an individual that has always done things his own way. When the Raiders touched down in the Los Angeles Coliseum, a beautiful union was born and Straight Outta L.A. poetically captures the simultaneous rise of both L.A. football and West Coast Hip Hop.

I can attest to feeling a special attachment to the Raiders when they arrived in Los Angeles. Mr. Davis was a beloved, iconic figure, whose Just Win Baby philosophy and equal opportunity policies endeared him to many. The connection to the city was effortless.

Some of the best days of my life were spent at the L.A. Coliseum on Sunday afternoons.

Sure, I saw my fare share of crazy things happen there. I’ll never forget being there when the Raiders beat the Broncos in OT back in 1989. No need to explain the heated rivalry between the two teams, if you’re reading this blog then you know Donkey hatred all too well. Naturally, there was plenty of trash talk in the stands since it was a close contest. When Mike Dyal – a backup tight end who only spent three years in the league – went 67 yards to the house late in the 4th quarter, the Coliseum erupted. As it turned out, the section not too far from where me and my pops were sitting was the epicenter. Some crazy dude sporting an Elway jersey chose the wrong section to be talking smack in, especially since he was the only person wearing that ugly orange in his area. Long story short, the Raiders won on a Jeff Jaeger field goal in OT and for the rest of the game every security guard in Los Angeles was at our end of the field.

To tell the truth though, I’ve seen crazier things happen over the years at other NFL stadiums than what I ever saw at the Coliseum.

Straight Outta L.A. makes it seem as if the Coliseum was a waste land of society where degenerates took time off to watch football. A land where families dared not go and once the 80’s ended the Raiders went the way of N.W.A. The funny thing is I remember going to games with my parents when I was a child in the 80’s and continuing through during high school in the early 90’s.

I remember the maverick Al Davis firing Mike Shanahan and making history by hiring Art Shell. Funny thing is that I also remember Shell leading the Silver and Black to the playoffs in three out of his first four years.

From 1990-1994, the Raiders only missed the playoffs twice and had a losing record just once. Even their last year in Los Angeles, the team finished 9-7 but missed the playoffs by one game. Guess which two years Straight Outta L.A. decided to highlight of the Raiders in the 90’s?

Sure, The Coliseum had plenty of empty seats. But that’s because selling out 100,000+ tickets every Sunday is a tall order for anybody, not because L.A. is some bandwagon city. This isn’t San Diego! In fact there’s a rabid fanbase in L.A. to this day. Also, it’s not like the Coliseum had any modern conveniences either. Those things never mattered to me and mine but it goes a long way in attracting other types of clientele.  

As for Cube and his autobiography which finally begins to shine some light on the true force of nature that is West Coast Hip Hop, well, even he failed to hit his mark.

When Cube split from N.W.A. he went from star to supernova. Forget all the Hollywood hype portrayed in the documentary. We’re not even talking Doughboy from the Hood.

Amerikkka’s Most Wanted, Kill at Will and Death Certificate are three of the most influential albums in the history of Hip Hop. What Chuck D was to New York, Ice Cube was to Los Angeles. The members of N.W.A. planted seeds that would eventually lead to Hip Hop becoming the multi-million dollar industry it is today.

While Cube and N.W.A. were synonymous with Gangsta Rap, as a solo artist Cube became the Hip Hop version of Malcolm X with his street conscious lyrics and themes. Cube even indirectly helped to spawn the Underground Hip Hop scene in California. Cube’s cousin Del the Funkee Homosapien and his Hieroglyphics crew continue to represent the Bay Area Hip Hop scene and its connection to the Raiders to this day (see Opio’s ‘Original Lyricist’ video as exhibit B).  

And of course the other members of N.W.A. went on to do major things as solo artists as well.

Even though Dr. Dre was claiming to never touch the green, his classic The Chronic forever changed the music industry and introduced the world to Snoop Dogg.

Funny thing is Snoop started a youth football league that has helped to develop some real talent right in the heart of Los Angeles. Just this past season, Crenshaw High became the first ever City Section school to play for the Open Division state title. They eventually lost to NorCal powerhouse De La Salle, but most of the talent on the Crenshaw roster was coached up in Snoop’s league.

No doubt Snoop remains inspired to this day by what he saw on the field at the L.A. Coliseum from 1982 to 1994. Since then, the city of L.A. has put some quality talent in the NFL and the USC Trojans (L.A.’s unofficial pro football team) still play their home games in the Coliseum.

Straight Outta L.A. does paint a wonderful portrait of the unifying force the Raiders had on the city. Bill Plaschke saw it himself and said it best when he described the Raiders as the true heartbeat of Los Angeles.

I’m proud of Cube for taking on such a monumental task. It’s about time someone told the story of how important the Raiders were not only to the city of Los Angeles but also to the NFL as well (see Merchandizing as exhibit C).

On occasion I’ll take the 210 through Irwindale and see that huge hole in the Earth where the Raiders were supposed to play. We all wonder what truly makes Al Davis tick. What is undeniable is the influence his decisions have had on the game of football and on American culture as a whole.

While Straight Outt L.A. doesn’t go the distance,  it’s a great start. Hopefully Ice Cube’s documentary will inspire the next generation to step up and tell the full story of both Hip Hop and football in Los Angeles. Just like Mr. Davis, Cube is paying it forward.

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