Laugh Now, Cry Later

Artist: Ice CubeTitle: Laugh Now, Cry LaterRating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Conan Milne

No-one screams West Coast OG quite like Ice Cube, and "screams" seems is a pretty apt choice of words considering the rage that "AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted" once delivered his ferocious lyrics with. Yet it has been some time since Cube was considered the most dangerous MC on the planet, and over the years Hollywood has appeared to have tamed the self-professed rapper you love to hate. With Laugh Now, Cry Later (Lench Mob), Ice Cube launches an all-out assault on the critics who would dare to claim that he's lost his artistic relevance.

At times, Cube faces a clear uphill battle. Forced club bangers like the Scott Storch helmed "Steal The Show" conjure images of the same airhead hip-hoppers that the one-time N.W.A front man earlier disparages on "Child Support". The latter track, in fact, is notable for Cube's refusal to name names, as the veteran takes generalized swipes at anonymous modern rappers he claims are "a bunch of bastard kids", to his father of Gangsta rap. While the last thing the rap world needs is more feuds, it’s possible to argue that the Compton veteran is biting his tongue here.

However, when the Don Mega fights said assault well, he fights it very well. His menace and delivery sounds effortless over the aggressive Lil Jon produced, ground-shattering "Go To Church". The star proceeds to take a fascinating trip down memory lane on the almost wistful “Growin’ Up”, a track that can only be described as vintage Ice Cube. On the familiar political tip, the former boy from the hood picks at the various holes in the prison system on "The Ni**a Trap", while condemning the many members of society who, in turn, are overly quick to dismiss America's ghettos on "Why We Thugs". Unsurprisingly, President Bush also provides Cube with significant lyrical firepower.

While Laugh Now, Cry Later will not be remembered as the renowned MC's best work, due to some lackluster production, it offers a glimpse of the controversial, motivated Cube that hasn't been heard in far too long. The rapper you love to hate is back, and he’s finally got reason to scream again.