American rapper, actor, screenwriter, film director, producer, and pop culture icon Ice Cube has credited the Oakland Raiders organization, including Al Davis, for inspiring N.W.A. and the hip-hop community on the west coast.
N.W.A. consisted of Arabian Prince, DJ Yella, Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, MC Ren, and Ice Cube. The group was renown for their powerful and explicit lyrics in the sub-genre known as “gangsta rap”.
Despite their music being banned from airing on many U.S. radio stations, the group rose to huge success from 1986-1991. Subsequently, N.W.A. was ranked 83rd on Rolling Stone’s list of The 100 Greatest Artists of All-Time.
In a phone interview with the NFL Network on Saturday morning, Ice Cube revealed what the Raiders meant to N.W.A.
“The Raiders were a rowdy bunch way before NWA,” said Ice Cube.
“You know, what they showed to us was that you can be yourself and you can still win. You don’t have to conform always to the mainstream or to the status quo. You can come out be yourself, own it and you can win.”
In 2010, Ice Cube directed “30 for 30”: Straight Outta L.A. — a documentary linking the Raiders to Los Angeles, gangsta rap and hip-hop.
It’s must see television for anyone who loves football or gangsta rap.
But NWA’s ties to the Raiders did not end there. The group, somewhat infamously, were huge fans of Raiders merchandise. Whether it was hats, jackets, or tees, if it had silver and black, N.W.A. repped it.
“I’m pretty sure his [Al Davis’] bank account loved it,” Cube said with a grin.
“We were great fans and we wore the logo well and the Raiders were winning on the field, and (it was) a beautiful thing.
“I think to this day we all benefited a lot off of each other when it comes to that Raiders’ image.”
Cube also addressed why he and N.W.A. chose Raiders gear over other merchandise.
“N.W.A. was actually an all-star group — we all had our own style, because we had come from different groups to create N.W.A. So we felt that we needed to look like we belonged together.
“This was an age of troop suits and uniforms. Run-DMC were in black and leather. We decided we’re not dressing alike but we’ll at least wear the same color. So we picked black as our color.
“I’d show up in my Raider gear. Next thing you know, other people start buying Raider gear. It’s just a thing where you looked right, it felt right. It had the same image we had.”
Who would have thought that Al Davis and the Raiders organization would have had a substantial impact on the rap and hip-hop scene in Los Angeles? Probably nobody, but they did.
As a result, the Raiders became a pop culture phenomena amongst supporters of the both the NFL and NWA. A professional football team and an all-star rap group, linked by a common ideology, became one entity…one nation.
Despite the unanticipated death of Raiders legend Al Davis, Raider Nation is stronger than ever. Head coach Hue Jackson has lead the team to a 3-2 record through the first five weeks of the 2011-12 season, giving the Raiders hope of making the postseason for the first time since 2002-03.
The Raiders are legitimate AFC West title contenders this season and Al Davis is big reason why. Not only did he put the entire roster together, but he also hand-picked head coach Hue Jackson, who is undoubtedly one of the best young coaches in the NFL.
Al Davis will be dearly missed by his family, coaches, players, and fans. As for the Raiders, just win baby!
Be sure to follow Shawn on Twitter: @etemadis