The rapper's take on Los Angeles' architecture would make critics proud

Who observed "in a world full of McMansions, the Eameses made structure and nature one"?

It wasn't architectural historian Thomas Hines or publisher extraordinaire Benedikt Taschen, but rapper Ice Cube.

Yes, that Ice Cube, co-founder of gangster rap superstars N.W.A. In a video that came out this week, he can be seen giving architectural tours of a misunderstood Los Angeles as part of a promotional campaign for Pacific Standard Time: Art in LA, 1945-1980, a dizzying art world collaboration that will bring together more than 60 cultural institutions (from the Vincent Price Art Museum to MOCA) across Southern California.

The Eames House, Case Study House #8

PST's previous promotional videos have featured actor Jason Schwartzman on John Baldessari and rocker Anthony Kiedis on painter Ed Ruscha. Ice Cube was a natural, if surprising, choice to promote the city's built environment. Not only is the rapper a fan of architecture, he explains in the video, but "before I did rap I studied architectural drafting."

Who knew? Reminiscent of critic Reyner Banham's (who once wrote "I learned to drive in order to read Los Angeles in the original") wacky yet endearing drive through the city's crazy quilt of architecture in 1972, Ice Cube name checks everything from Baldessari's scary ballerina clown to the Watts Towers while cruising westward toward the Eames House. He admires the husband and wife team for their resourcefulness and credits them for "doing mash-ups before mash-ups existed."

"A lot of people think L.A. is just eyesore after eyesore, full of mini-malls, palm trees and billboards," sais Ice Cube. "So what, they don't know the L.A. I know." And what he does know is absolutely worth a look.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. A Vancouver house designed in a modern style
    POV

    How Cities Get 'Granny Flats' Wrong

    A Vancouver designer says North American cities need bolder policies to realize the potential of accessory dwellings.

  2. Transportation

    Are Electric Vehicles About to Hit a Roadblock?

    With the EV tax credit on the chopping block and Tesla experiencing production delays, dreams of an electric future might prove elusive in the U.S.

  3. Transportation

    Avoiding Thanksgiving Traffic, With Science

    Find the best times (and modes!) to get to dinner this record-breaking holiday weekend.

  4. An autonomous vehicle drives on a race track in California.
    Equity

    Driverless Cars Won’t Save Us

    In fact, they’ll do the opposite of what techno-optimists hope, and worsen—not ease—inequality.

  5. Life

    A Bizarre Dispute Nearly Derailed America's 'City on a Hill'

    The traditional story of the Pilgrims leaves out the real danger that emerged from two Englishmen who sought to undermine the legal basis for settlements in New England.