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The ESPN documentary series, 30 for 30, continues a phenomenal and original run at uniting fans of sports history and cinema with Straight Outta L.A. Directed and narrated by Ice Cube, in O.G. gruff mode, the doc examines the stylistic endorsement of the Los Angeles Raiders in the mid-to-late ’80s by West Coast gangsta rap pioneers N.W.A., and proposes that Cube’s group cultivated everlasting, if unsolicited, street cred for the franchise as a multi-billion dollar brand. At this point in Ice Cube’s movie and music career, I was skeptical going in. Would his contribution to 30 for 30 play like self-serving promotion for N.W.A.’s back catalogue and the NFL’s fat merchandising arm? There’s a little hustle on hand, sure, but overall I enjoyed this well-organized, brisk look at the fashionable assimilation of a corporate/athletic identity by young black artists…with attitude.

For any guy who owned/stole a “Real Men Wear Black” t-shirt, more than one Starter jacket, or Dr. Dre‘s The Chronic in the early ’90s, Straight Outta L.A.‘s subject matter is enticing and nearly irresistible. This mix of enthusiasm and nostalgia is sensed in several of the interviewees enlisted from the world of old school hip hop (Ice-T, MC Ren) and Raiders’ record books (Howie Long, Marcus Allen). And Ice Cube goes the extra step by speaking with journalists, city employees, and figure-loving merchandising guys from the era. The biggest catch is his interview with aging “maverick” Raiders owner, Al Davis, regarding the team’s legacy and its controversial move from Oakland to L.A. and back again. (Note: Darth Vader after the jump.)

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In this day and age, it’s difficult for men to agree on much of anything, but we all feel that the Miami Hurricanes are the greatest college football team of all time. Yeah? A new feature-length doc entitled The U about the University of Miami’s equal parts legendary and notorious football program more than upholds this notion. As the latest entry in ESPN‘s 30 for 30 showcase, The U joins other sports documentaries made by reputable and well known filmmakers the likes of Peter Berg, Barry Levinson and forthcoming ones by Morgan Freeman and Jeff Tremaine of Jackass.

After the jump is a choice clip from The U and an interview with its producer, Alfred Spellman, who has made a name for himself alongside pal and U director, Billy Corben, with their Miami-based production company rakontur. Spellman discusses his doc, and the team itself within a historical and cultural context. He also updates on other projects including rakontur’s Cocaine Cowboys franchise, which is soon to be a major HBO series from Michael Bay.

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