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. Environment

    A 13,235-Mile Road Trip for 70-Degree Weather Every Day

    This year-long journey across the U.S. keeps you at consistent high temperatures.

  2. Design

    Paris Will Create the City's Largest Gardens Around the Eiffel Tower

    The most famous space in the city is set to get a pedestrian-friendly redesign that will create the city’s largest garden by 2024.

  3. A photo of a Tesla Model X inside the Boring Company's demonstration tunnel in Los Angeles.
    Transportation

    Dig Your Crazy Tunnel, Elon Musk!

    The Tesla CEO says his Boring Company tunnel cost $10 million per mile to build. If that’s true, it could be a big deal for public transit.

  4. Perspective

    Netflix’s ‘Street Food’ Reveals a Thriving and Threatened Culture

    In cities globally, street vendors are an essential source of food and provide critical income to women but recent crackdowns are threatening this lifestyle.

  5. a photo of a police line barricade in front of a sidewalk
    Transportation

    What We Fight About When We Fight About Parking

    The urban economist Donald Shoup collects reports of violence that erupts over parking spaces. To him, disputes between drivers are signs of a bigger problem.