Ice Cube screens “Straight Outta Compton” for Raiders


Oct 19, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Recording artist and entertainer Ice Cube leads Oakland Raiders players onto the field before the game against the Arizona Cardinals at Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

After two hard weeks of training camp, the Oakland Raiders were given a special treat Wednesday night when rap pioneer/actor/director/producer/Raider fan Ice Cube hosted a special early screening of his upcoming film “Straight Outta Compton.” The film, which has been heavily marketed and opens in theaters tonight, is a biopic about the rise of rap group NWA, of which Ice Cube was a foundational part along with Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, MC Ren and DJ Yella.

Aside from Cube being a devoted Raider fan – he was a 14 year old living in South Central LA when the Los Angeles Raiders won Super Bowl XVIII – there is a deep connection between the Raiders franchise and the events of the film and the real life history of gangsta rap’s foundational group. Cube chronicled the deep connection in his ESPN 30 for 30 documentary “Straight Outta LA.”

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The Raiders arrived at the Los Angeles Coliseum in 1981 and filled a void left by the Rams, who had fled the crumbling inner city of Los Angeles for the Orange County suburb of Anaheim – in a move that encapsulated the real life flight of white middle class Angelenos for the suburbs that had begun 25 years earlier. With LA’s urban core wracked by gang violence, the crack epidemic, and police brutality and abuse; the Raiders and their bad boy image – curated intentionally by Al Davis – became a symbol of resistance and defiance for many black and Latino Angelenos living in the inner city.

This symbolic significance became stronger because of the rise of NWA, who’s anti-police, anti-establishment and explicit lyrics regarding life in the hardscrabble streets of the Los Angeles area made them the bane of law enforcement and white politicians and heroes to many in the inner city. The use of Raiders imagery by NWA was somewhat intentional: members of the group had approached Raider PR staff asking for Raider merchandise that they could wear in their music videos and concerts, and were given a lot of free merchandise. The Raiders mostly black colorways, menacing logo and bad-boy image appealed to the rappers in the same way it did to inner city youth all over Los Angeles.

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  • Ice Cube would eventually leave NWA and become a more explicitly political rapper in the early 1990’s, and at one point criticized the Raiders and Al Davis in his lyrics. Cube – born O’Shea Jackson – would eventually go on to become one of the most well-recognized rappers in the world, starring in dozens of movies and becoming a respected box office draw. He has remained a Raider fan despite the team’s return to Oakland in 1995, and remains one of the biggest celebrity Raider fans and advocates for the team to return to Los Angeles.

    As a group, NWA fell apart not long after Cube’s departure, when legendary producer Dr. Dre departed for Death Row Records. Eazy-E passed away in 1994. The Raiders returned to Oakland in 1995, but carried back with them some of what they had picked up in their time in LA and through their association with NWA and other gangsta rappers. For better or for worse, it had changed the concept of what it meant to be the Raiders and be part of the Raider Nation, and it will be interesting to see if that concept changes again should the team return to Los Angeles in 2016.