Ice Cube is a pioneering powerhouse in the world of hip-hop. He has a stellar career as a rapper, actor, and businessman. Born O’Shea Jackson on June 15th, 1969, in South Central Los Angeles, Ice Cube first rose to prominence as a member of the influential rap group N.W.A. Known for his raw and unfiltered lyrics representing the pressures and discrimination faced by black youth living in impoverished neighbourhoods, he became a straight-talking, AK-toting, iconic voice of the West Coast gangsta rap movement in the late 1980s.
After leaving N.W.A. in 1989 due to creative differences, Cube embarked on a successful solo career. His 1990 debut album – ‘AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted’ – showcased his powerful storytelling abilities and socially conscious messages. He continued to release critically acclaimed albums, such as ‘Death Certificate’ which viciously slated former bandmates – including Dr. Dre, and Eazy E – on ‘No Vaseline’, one of the most celebrated rap disses of all time, and the LA riots-inspired track ‘The Predator’, solidifying his status as one of the industry’s most respected rap lyricists.
Not content with conquering the music world, Ice Cube made a seamless transition into acting. He gained recognition for his memorable roles in films like Boyz N The Hood, the Friday trilogy, and Are We There Yet? displaying his versatile talent and natural crowd-pulling charisma on the big screen.
Cube is also the founder and CEO of The Big3 Basketball League. This unique twist on the game features three-on-three half-court basketball, showcasing some of the biggest former NBA players and international talent featured on the roster. With a focus on faced-paced competition, and high-flying entertainment laced with urban stylings, the Big3 has become a favourite among basketball fans worldwide.
Sparing a quick half hour in between having electricians in to “tweak a few things” at one of his West Coast homes, we catch Cube a few hours after waking; he’s dressed in a black Big3 t-shirt and LA Dodgers cap, the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame inductee looks relaxed and happy to chat about his morning.
Our conversation is soon interrupted by his phone ringing. The normality of the situation is suddenly apparent: his ringtone is the default Nokia tune, and not one of his gangsta rap hit records. Cube declines the call with a wry smile, not revealing who the caller is. “I have friends in hip-hop,” he tells me. “Now and then we hang out together, we perform together”.
But the celebrity lifestyle never really appealed to Cube, he states: “I’ve been in the game since I was 15-years-old, I’ve been doing good music, good movies, and now I’m doing good basketball, all those things excite me more than hanging out, popping bottles, talking shit and wasting time, you know.”
With Ice Cube’s attention back on the interview, he’s clearly excited to talk about his upcoming tour, saying he is determined to give the fans what they paid for and more. “People are not just happy to see you, you gotta give them a great show with great music. I don’t take it lightly; I give ‘em 110% and show ‘em why they came. It’s a bucket-list moment for me every time, you know.”
With even more media projects in the pipeline including films, an Ice Cube biopic and unreleased music, the ever-transient Cube admits he has his hands full, but reveals he’s in no rush to put anything out just yet, saying he’d prefer to release something that resonates with his audience, rather than something easily digestible and throwaway.
He explains how social media has diluted artists across the board because everyone has such easy access to music. “It all feels disposable,” he says. “People don’t value music as much as like when there was less choice, when you had to go to the store and stand in line. It was a commitment between the fans and the artist. You waited for it to come out, you could feel it, you could touch it, you could trade it, you could sell it, it was a commodity. It became disposable because of the internet, for some people at least.”
“Music will always play a part in our lives; it will always have a place within our feelings and emotions.”
Speaking of his hip-hop co-stars joining him on tour, he describes it as a perfect show. “I played Australia recently, the crowd was loving it, and that was just me and Cypress Hill (performing), add The Game, who has his own vibe: he brings a lot of red,” he explains. “They’ve always had a great show. I don’t know what else a hip-hop fan could ask for, especially a West Coast hip-hop fan.”
Moving onto the recent arrest of Duane ‘Keefe D’ Davis, for his alleged part in the 1996 murder of Death Row Records artist Tupac Shakur, Cube states “it’s been so long I’m kinda numb to it, I don’t know which way is up right now. I’m just watching and waiting for more information.” When pushed further about 50 Cent’s recent Instagram posts suggesting that East Coast mogul and Bad Boy Records founder P Diddy, was behind the fatal shooting of Shakur, Cube doesn’t reveal much. “Until someone is charged, it’s just shit-talking, he’s just fucking with Diddy, 50 don’t play!” he smirks.
Ice Cube’s recent meetings with politicians such as the nephew of assassinated president John F Kennedy: Robert F Kennedy Jr. sparked an outcry of controversy and scepticism from fans and the media. His decision to sit down with influential figures in politics not only showcased his commitment to advocating for change but brought about questions regarding the effectiveness of dialogues between entertainers and politicians.
Regardless, the meeting served as a reminder that artists can wield their influence to push for social and political progress. Ice Cube’s dedication to using his platform for positive change continued to resonate, stating afterwards that he needs to speak to his enemies to find common ground. But why was there was such a sudden backlash from the media after the meetings?
“There’s an assault on freedom of speech, even on freedom of thought,” he says. “People want you to believe what they want you to believe, and behave how they want you to behave. They want you to have the same friends, the same enemies as them. Unfortunately, for them… the world just don’t work that way. I believe in facts over feelings. I’ll talk to anybody. It’s not a crime to speak to a so-called enemy. You can’t understand what’s going on until you speak, it’s all make-believe until you see it for yourself and understand. You can’t have peace until you have a conversation. Talking is better than fighting any day of the week.”
The High Rollers UK & Ireland Tour kicks off on December 5th. Book Tickets Online Now. www.high-rollers.net
Words: Mike Milenko