Ice Cube: Raw Footage (Album Review)

There are few MCs that can claim a resume close to Ice Cube. From his early days of letting us know how to “Express Yourself”, to dropping bombs on “Black Korea” with Sir Jinx, or how to tell exactly if “Today Was A Good Day”, Ice Cube’s musical pedigree is unforgiving and real, giving Hip-Hop depth in a materialistic world.

As if that wasn’t enough, he worked as Hip-Hop’s ambassador on the silver screen, with no Rappers this side of Will Smith collecting as solid a catalog of classic movies like Friday and Barbershop. If any rapper was to call his new album Raw Footage (Lench Mob) but O’Shea Jackson, it would feel like the title is being cheated. Luckily for us, Ice Cube delivered an album that not only follows its title in concept, but increases his legendary status in the process.

As actor Keith David begins the album with the question “What Is A Pryroclastic Flow?”, the feeling of anticipation grips the listener. It starts things off with that cinematic quality. Once the question has been answered on its surface, “I Got My Locs On” blasts through the speakers; a song that has Ice Cube and Young Jeezy dropping verses behind a blaring club-esque track.

The album really picks up into full Cube mode with “It Takes A Nation”. It picks up the torch in the first verse from “ I Got My Locs On” and then flows into the overall tone of the album. Its darkness and aggression flows into the standout track “Gangsta Rap Made Me Do It”. The guitar riffs and piercing piano are only topped by the sharp dose of truth that’s delivered by Cube.

Doused in the social commentary is Ice Cube delivering jewels for the hood woven in storytelling, much like in “Why Me”, which features Musiq Soulchild crooning a soulful hook under a somber beat. “Do Ya Thang” is Cube delivering something for the ride. The synths meld perfectly for a car that has that boom in the back.

He isn’t short with the gangster at all, especially on “Get Used To It” with longtime collaborator WC and The Game. All three go in, delivering a blueprint for other gangster rappers to follow. Keith David’s gravelly voice travels over the entire album as these songs are starting or finishing, and find a way to not be obtrusive, but add to the scene that Ice Cube is creating.

While this album is full of heat for the masses, a sore thumb is “Thank God”. The track just sounds odd as Ice Cube picks his flow up and changes it mid verse consistently. He’s fighting against the brass infused beat instead of creating his succinct harmony that he is known for. Additionally “Here He Come” lacks the edge found on the rest of the disc.

After you give this album a full listen, it is apparent that Raw Footage has two meanings. The first meaning is a two word definition of how he got to this point. The second actually describes the music he delivers within the seventy minutes that fills the disc; a sound that is based on the raw, ever changing, footage of the hood and the people inside it. What is Pyroclastic flow? Evidently, it’s Ice Cube making all of us remember just why he is the Godfather of this gangster ish. We wouldn’t want it any other way.

Ice Cube Featuring Young Jeezy

"I Got My Locs On"

Ice Cube

"Why Me"