Vintage VHS music videos stretched above the stage, Ice Cube’s name erupted in flames, and ‘Westside’ signs ballooned to life. The Opera House has given rap a stage before, with the Wu-Tang Clan, Skepta, Lauryn Hill, Danny Brown, and even Kanye West. But Ice Cube's show represented more than just a sound.
Cube was a founding member of N.W.A., the rap group that put Compton on the map. Together with Dr. Dre, Eazy-E and Arabian Prince, the four of them made the world pay attention to their small corner of Los Angeles and the injustices it battled every day: police brutality, racial profiling, and a lack of opportunities for young black people to escape the eternal loop of mass incarceration. To stand on a stage of the Opera House and make that statement is a powerful sign for the injustices against black people that continue to this day.