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 “nigga.” Do you agree?
Oh sure. It [has gone to] you have to go to jail for your records to be real. You have to commit crimes for your records to be good. It’s even gotten to the point where you have to be a victim. How many [gun] shots have you took? But come on, man. It’s all just beats, rhymes, skills, and lyrics…it ain’t about none of that other shit.
What do you hope to achieve with I Am The West?
I’m just doing a record that’s natural to me. It’s a California summer, West Coast album. It’s hardcore…the lyrics are there, the beats are tight, the quality is there. We worked with Sir Jinx and the Bizness. We have a new producer Track Bully. Bangladesh just gave us a heatrock. And Dre.
I like how you nonchalantly name-dropped Dr. Dre. Pretty slick.
[Laughs] I’m working on Detox and he’s sliding me some songs for [my album]. It’s going to be a good record.
What can fans expect to hear on Detox?
Heat. That’s what you should expect. When me and Dre get together, it’s magic. I expect us to do some of the best songs on the album.
There’s a sense that Detox is beginning to eclipse [Guns N’ Roses’] Chinese Democracy to where everybody is just waiting for this album to come out. It’s become an inside industry joke. Is Dre aware of that perception?
Yeah, he knows. But everybody puts the pressure on Dre to change our music sound for the next five, six years. I always equated Dre with Stanley Kubrick. You are going to wait [for one of his films]. But Stanley Kubrick is dead. Dre is still alive. So we’ll wait. You’’ll wait. We’ll all wait for as long as it takes.
“The banister broke and they started throwing money onto the stage. They were like, ‘Man, they haven’t done that since James Brown was here!’”
Lyrically, what can Ice Cube say in 2010?
There’s a lot to say. As long as I’m living, I’m seeing, I’m looking, I’m feeling…there’s a lot of things not being said. When you tune in July 13 and you get that purchase you’ll hear everything. I don’t want to give it up, but I have a track called “Hood Robin,” a song called “Man vs. Machine.” It’s just that realness. MC’s that pigeonhole themselves like, “Yo, I’m only this kind of rapper,” they are the ones that run out of stuff to say.
You’ve stated in past interviews about how much of a hardcore hip hop fan you still are. Who are you currently listening to?
Not a lot, because I’m doing a record. I’ve been doing this record for a while since I stopped [recording] Raw Footage. So I haven’t been on that tip because I don’t want to be influenced by anyone.
As an artist who has excelled in a live setting, what is your most memorable stage moment?
We did [Harlem’s] Apollo right after AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted came out. We almost tore that damn place apart… I mean literally. The side door got cracked, so it seemed like 200 people rushed in; you had people all in the aisles. Public Enemy is hot and they are handling my tracks and I’m doing some gangsta shit. When I did “Once Upon In The Projects” they lost their minds! The banister broke and they started throwing money onto the stage. They were like, “Man, they haven’t done that since James Brown was here!”
Ultimately, people are going to judge you on being a hip hop artist and your movies career. Would you choose one career path over the other?
I don’t have to pick one. This is not the first time this game has been played. Frank Sinatra played this game. He did both and look how that came out. Barbra Streisand—her ass can do it, so why can’t I? What makes me different? [Back then], you could do a movie back in the day and you had to know how to sing and dance. You couldn’t even get on the screen if you didn’t have the skills. I got all the skills and I’m trying to get better at all of them.
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