O’Shea Jackson, aka Ice Cube, remembers the moment he heard that the Oakland Raiders, a team he embraced after the 1980 Super Bowl for its take-no-prisoners attitude, were about to swashbuckle their way into Los Angeles.
“My team was now in my city and everything was about to change,” the rapper-turned-actor says in the latest ESPN “30 For 30” documentary, “Straight Outta L.A.,” which debuts Tuesday on ESPN at 4 p.m.
Ice Cube, living in Compton but bussed 90 minutes to Taft High in Woodland Hills, does about as thorough a job as anyone ever has in documenting the Raiders’ 12-year period in L.A. from 1982 to 1995 – especially in how it worked parallel with the emergence of gangsta rap and hip hop.
Snoop Dogg, in a retro Bo Jackson Raider jersey, and Ice Cube look back on that time while playing catch on the floor of the Coliseum during the documentary.
Insight from former Raiders such as John Madden, Marcus Allen, Howie Long and Rod Martin is interspersed with media members and social observers to move the storyline, but Ice Cube’s sit-down with a sickly looking Al Davis ultimately gives it this hour-long production a very nasty edge.
Ice Cube admits: It was Davis’ “scowling from the stands in his white jumpsuit and thug sunglasses” that made the Raiders “cooler than anyone else.”
The team’s managing general partner admits to embracing the emergence of Ice Cube’s obscene-laced, anti-establishment group NWA in the 1980s to help him, and the NFL, sell the Raider image as much as it sold silver-and-black merchandize like never before.
“The black kids needed something to hold onto, and it brought people to love the Raiders; it was great,” says Davis.
Even then-Kings owner Bruce McNall is included, explaining how he changed his team’s colors in the late ’80s to silver and black when Wayne Gretzky arrived, specifically to cash in – despite the objections of Davis. Even though he admits he did like the look of the hockey team’s new duds.
You must be an L.A. native to embrace what this doc means to someone like Ice Cube. One review of this from David Barron of the Houston Chronicle: “Unfortunately, after a couple of excellent 30 for 30 shows, including a hilarious episode on fantasy sports and an inspiring look at Nelson Mandela and the 1995 South African rugby team, Straight Outta LA comes across as parochial and dated. And I had to laugh when Ice Cube rhapsodized that no matter where the Raiders play, they will always belong to Los Angeles.”