With the 2010 edition of Lollapalooza set to kick off Friday, MTV News decided to dive deep into our archives and dig up the greatest/ weirdest/ scariest/ downright rocking-est moments in the fest’s rather epic history. We’re calling it “Lollapalooza Lookback,” and we think it’s a pretty fitting tribute to the granddaddy of American music festivals. We’ve already tackled Pearl Jam’s 1992 afternoon set and Nine Inch Nails’ stage-trashing high jinks from 1991 ; now, we’re checking in with Ice Cube, who took the stage in ’92 on a mission.
1992: Ice Cube Aims High, Hits Hard
One of Lollapalooza’s greatest legacies is that it was the first touring festival to bring rap music to the suburbs. On the first tour, Perry Farrell fearlessly booked Ice-T (backed by Body Count, who would very shortly be embroiled in controversy over their “Cop Killer” song), and then, in ’92, he followed it up by locking in Ice Cube, who had already shocked and awed many with albums like AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted and Death Certificate — and would soon blow away mainstream audiences with The Predator.
But, in the summer of ’92, Cube was still largely unknown to white audiences — or, more correctly, they only knew what they read about him. And that tended to be very, very bad. So, really, Farrell was being beyond brave when he inked Cube to the main stage. It was the kind of move that’s commonplace these days, but back in the early ’90s, it wasn’t. Until Lollapalooza, of course.
Still, Cube couldn’t have predicted any of this. And, as he told MTV News at an early Lolla date in July 1992, he almost passed on playing the festival — until he got some advice from a friend.
“Basically, I talked to Ice-T, and he was telling me about Lollapalooza and how it was good … and I heard they wanted to get me on there, you know, and he was telling me, ‘Fans who have never seen you play before that have been wanting to see you play may be scared to go to a rap concert. It would be cool,’ ” Cube said. “[He said] ‘You should go out and see. … Everything’s done so professionally, and you should go out and experience it,’ so I was like, ‘I’m down, I’m with that.’ ”
And so, he signed on. Still, he didn’t quite know what he was in for. After all, these would be the largest white audiences he’d played for in America. But he was up for the challenge.
“I was like, ‘You know, I know the crowd is going to be mostly white,’ but [T] said it’s like Europe. And the white kids in Europe go buck wild for rap concerts, so I’m definitely with that,” Cube said. “I think everybody’s going to come out with an open mind, and they’re going to be willing to learn about all the groups out here, including the rap groups. I want people to understand the young black male, how it is living in the United States and the pain and hurt we feel. … I might learn a thing or two, also. I haven’t seen any of these bands play, and you can’t teach until you learn.”
Make sure to come back Thursday, when we reveal another Lollapalooza Lookback. Plus, MTV News’ Lollapalooza Live will be streaming Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 5 p.m. right here on MTV.com.