Were you worried that you had to tone down some of the more gangsta lyricism you were known for as a member of NWA given that Chuck D and P.E. were seen in a much more socially conscious light?
Nah. I wasn’t going to let them change my style. But I learned a lot from them in terms of knowledge of self. [I improved] myself as a person. But I don’t think they wanted to do a record where they toned me down because they had just done Slick Rick’s [The Great Adventures of Slick Rick] and he talked about all kinds of shit. I mean they did “Treat Her Like A Prostitute”…they produced that record. So the Bomb Squad wasn’t tripping on that. They wanted artists who were at the top of their game and had a new angle. I just took that knowledge and took the streets and [made them meet].
You are wearing a T-shirt that reads I Am The West, which also happens to be the name of your upcoming album. I’m sure some of the younger heads will say the audacity of this O.G. making such a statement. What are your thoughts on receiving static from some of the newer generation of West Coast MC’s who may disagree with such a notion?
I ain’t tripping on it. I’ve gotten static from MC’s my whole career, young and old. It don’t matter. They just need to get in line and get a lunch [laughs]. Everybody has fish to fry.
But you seem to be that target for a lot of the up-and-coming West Coast acts like Glasses Malone and Jay Rock who charge that you have been disrespectful to the newer generation.
I ain’t came at nobody. I don’t even know them like that. I don’t know their music like that. I only know about them through the Internet like everybody else. So I really don’t know them enough to be tripping off them like that. They are tripping on me. And I am the West. It’s a true statement. It’s only a few people that can say that, and I’m one of them. Why not say it? Rap is about poppin’ your collar…brash, bold, shit-talking. And this is about the most shit I can talk right now to make that statement. So it will make people mad, but that’s what I do. That’s been my whole career.
What does the West Coast mean to you?
What does your left arm mean to your body? That’s what it means to me. That’s what the West Coast means to hip hop. Hip hop wants to cut that limb off for some reason, but we are here. We ain’t going nowhere.
“He can play the guitar, but he’s not going to fuck with me. I’ll whip his ass with a smile on my face“
Are you upset that the hip hop industry doesn’t give the West Coast much love these days?
Hell yeah, I’m upset. And it’s only because of location. Most of the industry is right here in New York. Most of the industry is in Atlanta. These are the powerful parts of the industry that [can] make you a star. But they are not hearing [the West]. They don’t think we exist. Hip hop can keep its bullshit. I’ll take the Cube fans.
Who is the typical Cube fan today?
I don’t know what they look like. It’s eight to 80, every color. Some people love my movies, some people love music, and some people don’t even know about my music. And some people don’t know about my movies.
I’m sure you’ve seen the video of the white guy with the guitar on YouTube singing “I’m Not Afraid of Ice Cube Anymore” where he takes shots at you for going from NWA to making family films. Have you seen the video?
Who gives a fuck? Everybody has an opinion…they are like assholes. I’m pretty sure [the guy that made that song] don’t scare me at all with that guitar. I’m a well-rounded human being. I aint no image. That’s the media…they put you here and put you there. I’m just me. He can play the guitar, but he’s not going to fuck with me. I’ll whip his ass with a smile on my face [laughs].
The Roots’ Questlove talked about the underlining message of “I’m Not Afraid of Ice Cube” on Twitter. He made the point that hip hip has been boiled down to a minstrel show. It’s as if a lot of rap fans just want to see you shoot a nigger. Do you agree?