It’s been 20 years since the L.A. Riots — nearly a week (April 29-May 4, 1992) of unrest, looting and rage that erupted in the wake of the acquittal of four LAPD officers (three white, one Hispanic) who were caught on videotape beating black motorist Rodney King. The riots paralyzed Los Angeles and sent racial shockwaves across the country.
To recognize the anniversary of the event — which left 54 people dead and over 12,000 arrested — VH1 will premiere the documentary film Uprising: Hip Hop and the L.A. Riots at 9pm on May 1. The film is executive-produced and narrated by Snoop Dogg, and directed by Mark Ford, and made its world premiere at the SXSW Film Festival in March. It uses footage that was locked away and unseen until now, along with firsthand accounts, to give an inside look at these fiery days. The story is told through the diverse perspectives of the rappers, musicians, police officers and victims who lived through the riots. Well-known figures who were affected by (or were actual participants in) the riots who offer their stories in the film include Rodney King, Arsenio Hall, Ice T, Professor Todd Boyd (USC), civil rights attorney Connie Rice, John Singleton, Too Short, KRS-One, Nas and Henry Watson (one of the “LA Four” convicted of beating Reginald Denny). Focusing not just on the news of that day, but how it affected and directly influenced hip hop, Uprising is scored by some of the most iconic and controversial hip hop tracks of all time, such as NWA’s “F*** tha Police” and Body Count’s “Cop Killer.”
Note: The trailer contains strong language and violent scenes.