Hardcore hip- hop
FOUNDING gangsta rapper Ice Cube has everybody in his sights.
‘‘ I am an equal opportunity offender,’’ Cube ( pictured) says.
‘‘ Nobody is safe. Everybody gets criticism. Everybody deserves criticism.’’
Cube, born O’shea Jackson, has always mixed politics, socio- economics and street knowledge in a rap career spanning 25 years.
He was in the hip- hop supergroup NWA with Dr Dre and Eazy E before going solo in 1990.
His empire now includes hit movies, film and television production and parochial LA splinter group Westside Connection.
This year also marks the 21st anniversary of Death Certificate, a potent album that managed to outrage everybody. At the time, Ice Cube was accused of being racist and misogynist.
For Cube, it also followed steep learning curves with Dr Dre in NWA and noted New York producers The Bomb Squad.
‘‘ I had grown up a lot,’’ Cube, 42, says. ‘‘ But there was no Dre or Bomb Squad to lean on.
‘‘ It was what we had learned going through very different schools of making top- notch hip- hop.’’
Lyrically, Death Certificate ’ s targets included black men, loose women, white America, Jewish managers and Korean grocers.
Cube shrugs: ‘‘ The ones who can’t handle it usually bark the loudest.’’
Cube also brought a ruckus with Westside Connection crew, LA rap peers WC and Mack 10. Each came from different gang territories. ‘‘ Westside Connection was about showing unity of the west coast,’’ Cube says.
‘‘ WC and I are from a Crip neighbourhood and Mack 10 is from a Blood neighbourhood. But those records showed we could work together.’’
Westside Connection also emerged during the east coast and west coast feuding, which resulted in the murders of rappers Tupac and Biggie Smalls.
‘‘ I think there was something brewing, a resentment, that the west coast was so popular,’’ Cube says.
‘‘ East coast artists weren’t getting the same amount of respect or sales.
‘‘ There were a lot of jabs thrown. Biggie and Tupac were so large at the time, they became the poster children for it.’’
Similarly, Cube is annoyed by the current face of hip- hop rappers cashing in with house and techno collaborations.
‘‘ A lot of guys are chasing money,’’ he says. ‘‘ Some record company collaborations are great, but most are forced and you can always tell the difference. ‘‘ To me, nothing beats a hip- hop beat. ‘‘ You put rap over R’N’B, house or jazz and it takes some punch out. It makes the raps less sharp.’’
Ice Cube is working on his 10th solo album. He recently tweeted a new track, titled Everything Corrupt, that defines the new record. ‘‘ It’s politics and reality,’’ Cube says. ‘‘ I think that’s what people respect about my music and it’s what I’ll always deliver.’’
At home, Cube is married with five children. He expects his kids to apply themselves and work hard.
‘‘ I don’t want them to chase money,’’ Cube says. ‘‘ I want them to put energy into doing great work.’’