Ice Cube Goes From Hip Hop to Hijinks
Ice Cube Goes From Hip Hop to Hijinks
by Brad Balfour
Originally posted on May 14, 2005.
Who would have thought that when Ice Cube appeared as a member of the original Los Angeles gangster rappers NWA that he would end up doing such a goofy and utterly cute yet pathetic comedy Are We There Yet? Yet as the hardcore star went from music to film, he's has proven to be versatile and broad-ranging skills, a grown-up now, and a survivor, not just another disgruntled ghetto youth.
When you made it big, you showed that people can come from something as extreme as the gangster roots, and then grow, and that there’s a positive afterlife. Do you feel that’s something you’ve accomplished?
What I wanted to show is that everybody who comes from the gangster life — they want what that man in the suburbs wants. Nice family. Nice house. Nice cars. Bills paid. Kids in school. Food on the table. Nothing more. Nobody’s trying to be Scarface out here. Everybody just wants to be comfortable. People always wonder, “You came from all this hard stuff, but now you ain’t pumpin’ that as much? That hardcore image.” Because now my family’s comfortable. I have things that I haven’t had. Now I’m speaking for the people who can’t speak for themselves. From my point of view, yeah, I’m not “in the hood” no more, doing all that stuff, but I’ve got people there. I got family there. Most of my roots are there. I can’t separate myself from that. But as far as the gangster in the hood, the dude that’s in the penitentiary, the dope dealer goes? All they want is to be comfortable. Nice house. Family. No more, no less. That’s really what this shows. If you give anybody the chance, they can always make a decent human being out of themselves. It’s the people that don’t have a chance, that we look down at like they’re monsters or they’re animals or that they want something different than the rest of us. That they don’t want to be like us. That’s not true. They want to be just like everybody else.
Do you ever feel you were in the crosshairs, instead of just the spotlight?
No, never. It’s a small price to pay for where I’ve come from and where I am. It’s like, please.
An easy call, right?
Yeah. I’ve dealt with a lot harder shit than reporters coming down on me. You know what I mean? That’s kind of easy to deal with. I know who I am. I know what I’m about.
When you started out, people felt that NWA were West Coast heirs of Public Enemy — doing important rap that was saying something real to people. Now a lot of hip-hop has gotten too much into the blingage, and not as much into real cultu
What happened was Public Enemy, BDP, myself, a little bit Ice-T, we were heirs to when people wanted to hear these changes. Our plight. Our history. We were learning a lot from the music. And that music was real threatening to the establishment. So then, here comes Death Row which is pretty much more gangster than knowledge, you know what I mean? The establishment chose to really promote that and pump that. I’m not saying they didn’t make great records because those were some of the best records made. But they got more love in some of the areas that we couldn’t even get into. MTV went open arms with them. But for us, it was a struggle, because they never really wanted our messages to get out there on that level. It was just a calculated move by people who bring rap to the world — radio stations, newspapers, magazines, video shows. It was just an effort to pump that, because it really had no substance to it. And that’s what’s taken over and kind of steamrolled to this bling-era. But people are always hungry for knowledge, so here come the Roots and the Kanye Wests of the world. Here comes the knowledge back again. It’s probably going to take a few years for it to be as widespread as it was, but it’s coming back.