Ice Cube Celebrates the Eames

I love rap, always have and probably always will; everything from Talib Kweli and Mos Def to N.W.A. and Tupac Shakur. So when this video showed up on my Google Reader feed I got understandably excited about it. Take a minute and let Ice Cube take you on a tour of his favorite architectural spots in LA and discuss the things he loves about the Eames House.

Like most, I was a little surprised to hear that Ice Cube had training in architectural drafting, but it was a recent New York Times article discussing the video that provided an even deeper look into who he is behind the public facade.

What do you like about the Eameses’ work?

I had learned about them when I was studying architectural drafting. Back then, I didn’t know I was going to make money. So being that they put together a house in two days and used discarded materials — something about their style caught on.

As I got older, I could equate it to sampling. I see that’s what we were doing, taking discarded records from the ’60s and ’70s and revamping them. 

I’ll be honest, I don’t know much about the Eameses’ work or their house even, but the comparison to building a house with discarded materials and sampling old records is apt. There are many times when adaptive reuse of a historic building provides the link to the forgotten history of a place and at the same time providing for it to live on into the future. Sampling records is no different, Kanye West and Jay Z  (click on the album to play) sampled a song by Otis Redding — not to say that he’s been discarded or forgotten — for their most recent album. In doing so, they brought Otis Redding to a whole generation of listeners who may not have been familiar with him.

Poster for Pacific Standard Time Project

I enjoyed hearing you tick off your favorite buildings in Los Angeles, including one I was unaware of: 5 Torches.

The 5 Torches is an elegant ’hood restaurant. This is where all the old players went to hang out.

I didn’t want to show off the monuments that everybody knows. I wanted to highlight the ones in the neighborhood that we grew up in, like Brolly Hut. That’s just a hamburger stand, but it’s uniquely made, like a hat or a hut. Or Randy’s Donuts.

All these things are monuments to us — or were to me, growing up.

Ice Cube brings up a really valid point, one worth reminding ourselves of. Sometimes it’s not about the buildings that would be considered architectural masterpieces or the home of major events in human history that are particularly worth saving. It can be the cultural landmarks that have the most importance to people. Just look at the outcry that resulted when the owners announced that they intended to demolish Porky’s Drive-In in Saint Paul.

I wonder if Ice Cube would consider himself a preservationist? I would.

I know this doesn’t qualify as particularly Minnesotan, but I couldn’t help myself.

Will O’Keefe

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