If a cat sparks a conversation about west coast rappers, who’s the first dude that pops into your head? Hopefully not Tupac, because he was a New York transplant, like it or not. Unless your 16 years old, Ice Cube finds a way into the discussion, if it goes on long enough. His new album, I Am The West, is a bold statement, showing that even Cube himself is aware that he personifies not only an entire coast, but is basically the forefather of the gangster rap movement. For what it’s worth, he may be the West’s Rakim Allah, respect-wise.
Thing is…Ice Cube wasn’t a gangster in the slightest. O’shea Jackson was attending college in Phoenix, Arizona when Eazy made him an offer that he obviously couldn’t refuse. N.W.A. ( & the posse) had already released their first album which earned some swap meet, trunk sales money, but Eazy-E had bigger plans for the group, minus some people. The end result was Eazy, MC Ren, Dr. Dre, DJ Yella, (post college) Ice Cube & Arabian Prince. The D.O.C. became an honorary member a little down the road. MC Ren was a beast in his own right, but he wasn’t the storyteller Cube was, thusly, Ice Cube ended up writing Eazy-E’s rhymes, as well as his own. Cube was so good at ghostwriting for a young Eric Wright that, for years, most people had no idea that Cube penned E’s verses. Verses that sounded like Eazy was writing the shit at the exact moment he “grabbed the stupid bitch by her basket weave.”
Although Cube become politically charged as he grew as a rapper, the things he rapped about, pre-Bomb Squad, were simply not true. & he never pretended they were. If I’m not mistaken, in the interview he did with Dee Barnes (the one that got her Dre-slapped)), Cube said he was a product of his environment, & reported what he saw to the fans. Yet & still, he was never called a fraud, a front, or a liar. Goes to show that Hip Hop once respected the art of storytelling, shout out to Ricky Walters.
Somewhere between political activist & Hollywood star, it seems Cube may have drank a little too much of his own Kool-Aid, though. Not that he’s too old to still rap, after all, age ain’t nothing but a number, but to come out flailing at the land he helped build is a Cube I thought was left back in his gangsta, killa, dope deala days. Then again, conflict & chaos sell just as well as nipples & ass dimples, so I’ll never blame a man for making it do what it will. Only a fool would think otherwise. & if you trace Ice Cube’s steps all the way back to ‘A Bitch Is A Bitch‘, it’s apparent this dude is far from a fool. In fact, I’ll even excuse the fact that he played Dough Boy in every movie he’s ever been in, in light of his legendary status as a pioneer.
Shit, he may very well be the flame needed underneath the West Coast to get us back on the map again. His “old man shaking his fist at the kids” routine has sparked responses from U-N-I to Jay Rock & everybody in between. Matter of fact, Jay-Z did something similar, & then called himself the reigning king of NY until we got tired of hearing it. & we see where that got him. Just saying.