Ice Cube: American Gangsta

Ice Cube in the movies did a lot for fans as a rapper too. So when he speaks, listen. All these years, and O’Shea “Ice Cube” Jackson is still the n***a you love to hate. That is, if you think a rapper who got started over twenty years ago cannot still be relevant in 2008. […]

Ice Cube in the movies did a lot for fans as a rapper too. So when he speaks, listen. All these years, and O’Shea “Ice Cube” Jackson is still the n***a you love to hate. That is, if you think a rapper who got started over twenty years ago cannot still be relevant in 2008. Cube has another stinging treatise directed at gangsta rap and Hip-Hop’s naysayers with “Gangsta Rap Made Me Do It.” The songs video cements the audacity of rap scapegoats, with Cube dropping quotables like, “I’m trying to get me a Maybach, how you motherf***ers gonna tell me don’t say that, You the ones we learned it from, I heard n***a back in 1971.”Along the path of his career Cube has smacked the nation upside it head with gangsta rap as part of N.W.A, dropped solo classics like Amerikkka’s Most Wanted and The Predator, and possessed enough clout to see his 2006 solo Laugh Now, Cry Late become a Gold record independentl. As an actor, Cube diversified his resume to include writer, director and producer ever since his acting debut in John Singleton’s Boyz N The Hood and, of course, blessed us with the DVD collection staple Friday. On Friday (Jan 11) his latest film, First Sunday, hits theaters while the summer will see Cube release his eigth solo album Raw Footage. Here, Cube waxes philosophical everything from Katt Williams to Dr. Dre to impromptu advice from Laurence The new video for “Gangtsa Rap Me Do It” is getting a lot burn, how important was the visual?Ice Cube: I wanted something that didn’t take away from the footage. The footage to me is just as powerful as the lyrics, especially how they’re laid in there. I just wanted people to [sighing] stop blaming the world’s problems on gangsta rap, because that’s just easy. Please, that’s like blaming the messenger or blaming the mirror for what you see or what you hear. To me [the video is] a way to show how hypocritical that is and do it in a sarcastic way. And then make sure people understood what I was saying with the song. People were like, “Wait are you saying that you down with it? You ain’t? What are you saying?” I wanted to make it sure it was clear on what I was trying to present. What inspired you to make the song?Ice Cube: A lot of bulls**t last year. From the Don Imus thing to people just appearing on all these shows and just brushing gangsta rap with a broad stroke like this is the reason, when that’s bulls**t. We grew up watching these people and then decided to do what we do.  Gangsta rap is the product of…s**t, I mean it’s the product of a lot things but when you break it down, you take a little Muhammad Ali and a little Richard Pryor, you throw in some crack and then you throw in some gangbanging, and at the other end of all that s**t, to try to make sense of it all, you get gangsta rap. That’s what happened in the ’80s that started all this. It’s a culmination of that era, combusting into lyrics and poetry. Some people use it like a newspaper, some people use it like a comic book and it’s everything in between. But gangsta rap ain’t the reason why all this s**t is going haywire. [story continues below] Was there any particular event that made you write this song?Ice Cube: It was all of it. It was just a snowball effect. It seemed like for two weeks we was bombarded with it. It was bulls**t. Your new film with Tracy Morgan, First Sunday, is your film production company Cube Vision involved?Ice Cube: Yeah, we produced it. It was written and directed by a guy named David E. Talbert. He’s done plays and stuff so he’s kind of coming up through that Tyler Perry thing; not with him [but] being a guy who gets a lot of people to see his plays, now he’s going to the big screen. This is a story that he wrote that was cool. When you say me and Tracy Morgan being stupid enough to rob a church, that made you laugh right there. But when I read [the script], it wasn’t just fun and games. It wasn’t some buffoonery. It talked about the reason, and the social issues and the responsibility that the church has to the community. It spoke on some real issues that we dealing with in every community right now. That’s what really turned me on, the “dramedy” aspect of it. People are going to come in to laugh and have fun, but it might send you away crying in spots too. It’s just that kind of movie. You must get tons of scripts. Are those things you always look for in what to get behind or the roles you take?Ice Cube: People’s misnotion on Hollywood is that, “Aww man, you can making anything you want to.” It’s just not true. Everybody gotta be down. The script gotta be good. The director gotta be competent and good. The actors gotta all come together. The money that the movie company wanna spend gotta be right. The time they want to do it gotta be right. So all these things gotta come into play for a movie to get made. I got different scripts in different stages of development. This is one that came into play, it was something that we definitely wanted to do and it was just right at the time. This is the one we stepped up to the plate. But we got a lot of stuff in development. Movies come out at different times for different reasons. Some get made, some don’t for different reasons. You’ve had a hand in launching the careers of cats like Chris Tucker, Mike Epps and Katt Williams, what did you see in each of them?Ice Cube: That they were funny people, not people trying to be funny and make you laugh. You can have a serious conversation with any of them and start laughing. You just can’t help it. They the kind of dudes that when you see them turn the corner, you just start smiling. They just got them kind of personalities. They was funny no matter what so I didn’t have to overdo it or try to overwrite a scene. I knew we walking down the street and I just trip his foot, that s**t going to look funny cause he look funny and he is funny. It’s a natural thing. Even with Bernie Mac, it’s just a natural thing. Is it true you’ve never taken an acting class?Ice Cube: I took one, I hated it because it made me feel stupid, I didn’t want to go back. I was shooting Boyz N The Hood and they kept saying we trying to get you out of here so you can go to your class. I’m saying in my mind man, “F**k that class, one and done that’s it.” So I went over to Laurence Fishburne, I was like, “Man dude, I don’t want to go to this class.” He kept saying, “What class?! Man what the hell you talking about?!”I said, “Man they got me going to this acting class.”“You already in the movie!” [Cube laughs] He said, “Did they have a problem with what you was doing?” I was like Nah. He said, “Man you don’t need that man, just do your thing. You know what you doing, you know what you talking about, you know how Dough Boy is, be him!” I never went. That was the only acting instructions I ever had. Was there a certain movie where you became comfortable in your acting?Ice Cube: I don’t know. I don’t know if you ever all the way comfortable. I don’t know if you ever all the way comfortable because you only going to get three or four shots at doing it. Most actors know they can do it better if you just give them another one. That’s where the director comes in and says, Nah you got it. You did it, you hit it, it was perfect. So I don’t know if I’ma ever feel like, I’m perfect, that’s dope.  I’ma always be like, Man, give me one more crack at it. Usually when it’s all said and done, I like most of my performances. Laugh Now, Cry Later did well was there ever hesitation to go the independent route?Ice Cube: Once I talked to Tony Draper who without him I don’t know how much this would have been possible; Tony Draper, Suave House, he been independent his whole career so he helped a lot. But when it was time to Laugh Now, Cry Later, and it was time to go either back to Capitol and do my deal or whatever, cause my deal was up, the record wasn’t really a priority. But when I decided to do it independently it just gave me more energy, it gave me more life. It was just like I was brand new, like I had another fire in me. So the records I had had at that time, none of them made the record. I just started going in there doing new stuff and then you got the real Laugh Now, Cry Later. Back then it wasn’t even titled before I decided to go independent. I was just doing records, having fun with it really. So that’s what gave me really the right attitude. To say, not only am I going to do this independent, I’ma just do this for Ice Cube fans, f**k everybody else. If you ain’t down by now I’m not going to be trying to get you with, “Go get Akon, put him on the record with me!,” and all that kind of stuff. I’m not about to do all that at this point. Either you down with what I do or you not. Not saying I don’t like that or I won’t do a song dude in the future cause his s**t is bumping. I’m just using his as an example, I don’t want to be that kind of artist, I’m done with The fans came out and supported you since the album is past gold. So what’s up with the new album?Ice Cube: They really responded. Especially in today’s market. It was a real big success. With Raw Footage, I even want to go deeper with it and not even worry about any commercial success. Just worry about giving the intelligent, mature hardcore Hip-Hop fan; making sure he satisfied or she satisfied and the Ice Cube fan is satisfied and I’m spitting the real s**t. That’s what I want to do. It’s a summer release so is it done or are you fine tuning?Ice Cube: We fine tuning right now. Records, when it’s going good it come together fast. When it’s not so good they take a long time. This record has been coming together real fast. Not so fast where it’s not quality because to me that’s what I believe is one of my best assets of having longevity; making sure the quality is there. It’s a good record. You saw the ugly side of the music biz from your N.W.A and Priority Records days, going into the movie business were there any shady dealings that still surprised you?Ice Cube: The execs I think have come around; as far the people that say, “Damn Cube, I like that movie you wrote, let’s shoot that, let’s make it.” Those people are starting to really come around and realize that today the black audience is just as big as any, as far as moviegoers. But you still gotta deal with distributors and in some ways they still got that good ol’ boy network and they don’t know if your movie going to work in their theater. I hate when you see a movie that only got 1800 screens, a Black movie, but that’s being compared to a movie that came out the same weekend that got 4000 screens. How you going to compare that money?  The one with 1800 ain’t even in the ball game, really. That’s the part that people don’t You’ve said you haven’t fully closed the door on another Friday  sequeland now it seems like Chris Tucker is a bit more interested, any chance it’s finally going to happen?Ice Cube: It’s no closer than it was. I don’t know to make it no closer without Chris just saying, “Yo, I want do it.” I haven’t moved an inch on it because until he wake up and say, I want to do it, I don’t think we should do another, unless he’s in it. But the window of opportunity is starting to close, I think. At some point, who cares? It’s going to get to a point where the audience has been waiting too long. Or maybe not, you never know. That’s why it ain’t ruled out, it ain’t ruled in but I think he’s the one who pulls the trigger on that movie. I think he want to do another movie with me, but I’m not sure. [laughing] I been trying to get him in a Friday man since 1996. It’s been 12 years and he still ain’t said yay or nay, so what can I do? It’s up to the fans really to keep asking about it. The Helter Skelter project with Dr. Dre, is that still a possibility?Ice Cube: Man I ain’t heard from Dre in years…so that’s dead, as far as I’m concerned. Unless he sends me some beats and tells me to start writing. You’ve been mention in a Welcome Back Kotter remake, is that still going down? Ice Cube: I don’t know. The Weinstein company got that in development hell. I don’t know what they going to do with that movie. What about the rumored A-Team movie and you playing Mister T’s role?Ice Cube: I hear John Singleton’s going to direct. If he’s directing it, I’m definitely that much more interested in being in it as BA Baracus. The circles you’re rolling in, films and still music, you’re dealing with people of different ethnicities. Have people ever said, “Cube, what was up with ‘Cave B***h’ or ‘Black Korea’?”Ice Cube: Only reporters. But ya know, I always [say] Hip-Hop is a time capsule man. That record was made in 1993. When I was in the booth that day, that’s how I was feeling. There you have it. I don’t care how they judge me. I’ma just be real about it. Where you speaking to anyone in particular on the ad libs to “Gangsta Rap Made Me Do It”?Ice Cube: Everybody who don’t do the s**t is talking about it like they…ya know, I know people feel they know. I know a little bit about every kind of rap. But if it ain’t what you do, why make an ass out of yourself? Don’t even speak on it man.