Ice Cube: Street Cinema

“I’ma put my money where my mouth is,” says rapper Ice Cube of his decision to make his own Lench Mob Record his only recording home. While other rappers take the idea of independence only as far as some lip service or a stray mixtape, Ice Cube went all out. After years as a major label artist, Cube dropped his 2006 album Laugh Now, Cry Later, which went on to become the highest selling indie rap album of the year. Not a bad look for O’Shea Jackson. But it shouldn’t be surprising considering his success in Hollywood’s shark infested waters and, of course, his run with those N bombs wit’ attitude. Cube is set to hit the screen again on August 22nd with the feel good football flick The Longshots, but not before dropping his eighth solo album, Raw Footage on August 19th. With rugged beats, gangsta bravado all held together with candid barbs of social commentary, the album is vintage Cube. But then again, Cube has never been one too stray too far from his gangsta rap pedigree. Read and watch for yourself. You’re always working working working, can you give us an idea of what you’ve been up to the last six months?Ice Cube: We can go back even further. The start of the year we did a movie called The Longshots that will be out August 22. I was working on the album before we started the movie; like December [2007] a little over eight months, I started working on the album. Then I did the movie, after the movie I had to come back and finish the album. Then after I finished the album we did another movie with Mike Epps called Janky Promoters. Soon as I finished that we went through Europe for 18 days. Played all through Europe then came back here for six days and jumped on the road again. Here I am, we tour til September 21st, keep it moving. Ice Cube "Do Ya Thang" How’s the reception been in Europe?Ice Cube: Man they love it. They been waiting for me for a long time over there. The response was big, everything was selling out, people want me back so hopefully we’ll be back soon. You’re a Hip-Hop icon and a certified movie star, when do you find time to relax?Ice Cube: Ya know, I get time, to relax. I usually take off three, four weeks at a time and just kick it and spend it with the fam. It look like I’m doing a hundred things but I make sure that I carve in my family time and all that, so it’s really not an issue. Was there a spark or incident that made you say, Ok, I’m going to start Raw Footage now?Ice Cube: I knew I was going to do Raw Footage after Laugh Now, Cry Later. Laugh Now, Cry Later was more of an introduction back into the game, making sure people was aware that I could still do it. So it’s more of a record just to introduce me back into the Hip-Hop game and get people comfortable. Now since people are really open, it’s time to do a record like this, Raw Footage, to really get people back to where we were when I first started. In hindsight it was a great move because you did it independently, but running up to that point was there any hesitation?Ice Cube: When I decided to go that route man I just went full speed. I just felt like win, lose or draw, I’ma put my money where my mouth is. I’ma promote my record how I feel in my heart and whatever is the outcome is the outcome. With help from people like Tony Draper, Robert Red, Michael Pauly over at the Firm, Jeff Quinance, Tracy at 5WPR, that’s the team basically. Lench Mob Records really, that’s how we do. We all sit down, we decide what we need to do and we push it. And I love it that way. Records sales really not concerned to me as much as doing it my way. And doing the kind of records I want to do. Without some A&R dude trying to tell me to go find T-Pain and get you a voice box. Ya know, all this stupid stuff that they do that mess up a lot of records, mess up a lot of artists. People think artists fall off but sometime their record company is responsible for a lot of that because they keep pushing them, more and more pop, pushing them, more and more Did you get a lot of that too, despite your track record? Ice Cube: Oh yeah, whenever you give a record to the radio team, here they come with something to say about the record instead of pushing the record. They start whispering to the A&R guys, the A&R guys start whispering to the president of the label, the president of the label, you know, want me to get T-Pain [laughing], that’s just how it go down. They always want somebody else hit. Try to do something like somebody else hit. I got sick of it, I was burnt out on it. And now I’m rejuvenated because I ain’t go to go through that anymore.

“In ‘93 this kind of rap was pushed to the back for more of the escapism, hanging in the club, drank, get your smoke on, cars, women. And now people know you can’t escape from your problems. People want to hear some solutions, or even damn just some suggestions.” Raw Footage is definitely you with the social commentary and the gangsta s**t, why drop this record now?Ice Cube: I just think people been looking for social and political commentary in music for a longtime. Especially the real heads. Especially the ones in my bracket; around my age or even younger or older a little bit. We don’t want…dance raps is not going to do it for us. We need raps that’s real, raps that not talking about just the rapper but talking about that community and what’s going on. I just felt like people hungered for it.In ‘93 this kind of rap was pushed to the back for more of the escapism, hanging in the club, drank, get your smoke on, cars, women. And now people know you can’t escape from your problems. People want to hear some solutions, or even damn just some suggestions. Anything to help them sidestep some of the pitfalls that’s out here. Can you talk about the creation of one of the album most powerful songs, “Why Me?”?Ice Cube: I got the music first from Hallway Productions. I liked the music but I didn’t know what I was going to put on top of it. It’s a little more musical that I’m used to. My stuff is more beat heavy. I was sitting with it for a long time and then a homie I know got killed named Snag and it triggered something in me to write about it man; to write about all this violence, from the point of view of a victim. What if a victim could come back and talk to his shooter, what would he say? What would he say if he could talk to the man that killed you. Especially when it’s random. It is one of the most powerful records that I’ve done in my whole career. I put it up there with “Dead Homiez” which I did back on the Kill at Will EP back in the 90’s. I put it up there with that, one of the best records I’ve ever done. Get Used To It - Ice You got The Game on “Get Used To It” and there have been rumors that he’s going to join Westside Connection, is there any truth to that?Ice Cube: Maybe [smiles]. Maybe. What’s the current situation with Westside Connection and Mack 10?Ice Cube: Well me and Mack 10 we fell out, man, about five years ago. We just went our separate way. It ain’t no beef, it ain’t no animosity, it ain’t nothing like that. We just decided, Yo we can’t work together. I’m cool with that. I’m pretty sure he cool with that. That is what it is? As far as the fact that you have your rap image but you always having the ability to do your family friendly images, has that ever formed a conflict like, Should Cube be in this film?Ice Cube: I don’t know. If those conversations happen, they don’t happen in my presence. I’m not really concerned about that. The people who have to wrap they minds around the fact that I do all kind of movies, just that these movies but, the people that have to wrap they heads around it is the people that have been fans from day one of the music. But everybody else can accept. I look at it like this man, Hip-Hop is real life to me. Acting is just pretend. Movies is fake, it’s a character, it’s no way to me that you marry the two. Cause if I do a serial killer movie that don’t mean I’m a serial killer now. If I do a family friendly movie that don’t mean I done calmed down to the point I don’t know how to do hardcore Hip-Hop. To me it’s just a job, it’s fun to work on them kind of movies. I know a lot of people go to the movies to escape and that’s exactly what those movies are for, it’s an escape [from] reality. Ice Cube "Gangsta Rap Made Me Do It" What’s your take on the Rick Ross situation?Ice Cube: I ain’t got no take on it. It is what it is. Whether it’s him or not, he can rhyme. Anybody that’s from neighborhoods where we come from, got a story to tell. So everybody, “Keep it hood, I’m more ghetto than this one, I’m more blacker that one,” it’s bullshit. Anybody that come from the areas we come from got a story to tell. His credibility to me is Your Ice Cube and anytime there is a top five list of greatest rappers, your name inevitable comes up. What does that mean to you?Ice Cube: It’s like being put in the Hall of Fame. It’s something that you dream of, to be in that echelon, but you don’t know if you ever going to get there. You just keep working hard, you keep rhyming. If they put me there then I’ll feel like I’ve achieved everything I wanted to achieve in Hip-Hop; being considered one of the best. Ya know, I can kinda relax and keep it moving. I’ma keep doing what I’m doing.Killer Mike f/ Ice Cube "Pressure"