Next time you’re going into the freezer to pick up some ice cubes take a moment and observe what takes place. If you watch closely enough you’ll notice that there’s a chilly heat that rests on the smooth surface of an ice cube. You’ll notice the chill rising up like smoke from a flame as it hits the air. That smoky image of ice cold heat unfurling describes the appeal of Ice Cube.
He’s the iconic rapper whose intense lyrics and rap delivery, penetrating gaze, and flared nostrils can freeze you in place, and he’s also the actor whose natural charisma and playful wit brings warmth to the screen. He’s hot as ice and cold as fire.
Lately, Ice Cube has been on heat with a new hit movie, First Sunday, a new single entitled, "Gangsta Rap Made Me Do It", and a new business venture, UVNTV.com that aims to put him at the forefront of the online television revolution. From starting a ruckus with N.W.A. to following that up with a media maelstrom as a solo artist with classics such as Amerikkka’s Most Wanted, to finally finding peace and stability in Hollywood, Ice Cube continues to stay relevant and challenges anyone who disagrees.
Ice Cube chilled with Sixshot as he discussed the sacrifices and challenges of being a dad, his relationship with his father, who the real Ice Cube is, his upcoming album Raw Footage, his apocalyptic vision of music’s future, why he feels west coast rappers are not part of the hip-hop community, the real reason why he hasn’t visited past collaborator Nate Dogg who recently suffered a stroke, and more.
What do you share most in common with the character of Durell in the film, First Sunday? Your browser does not support inline frames or is currently configured not to display inline frames. P>
I love my kids. I don’t go to church that often so that’s probably another thing. That’s probably about it.
In the film your character goes to extreme lengths to care for his son. What is one of the major sacrifices you have had to make for your own children?
I don’t know if I made any major sacrifice. I’ve been blessed. At the point I was having kids my stardom was growing, so I never really had to do anything that I don’t think is normal that anybody wouldn’t do. As far as this point on, or at anytime that I’ve had kids, I would kill or die for my kids. That’s about as extreme as I would go.
Instead of sacrifices have there been any challenges to being a parent that you had to overcome?
Making sure that I invest the time into my kids that I know they need, and not letting the business or industry take me away from that. Of course I gotta go out of town sometimes and do movies. For the most part I didn’t want to be in L.A. but not at home, and not taking care of what my kids need to be successful; which is a male in their life who’s interested in what’s going on and not just paying the bills.
You’ve played dads before in your films. How has your relationship with your own father prepared you for these roles?
My father was a very good father. He taught me. He didn’t just let me figure out life, but instructed me on life everyday on how to not step in so many pitfalls that’s out there. So he was very interactive with me; which I try to be with my kids, which I guess has spilt over into the screen. In most of the movies where I’m dealing with kids you can realize that this is not first time that I’ve dealt with little kids.
The film takes place in a church and deals with issues of morals and conscience as the church is redeemed by the lead characters and vice versa. How has your own relationship with Islam impacted your moral outlook and conscience?
It’s all helped to shape me; half of my life Christian and the other half of my life Muslim. I realized in looking at both of them that ultimately when you know right from wrong you don’t need either of them to know how to live right. A lot of people really need a lot of religion in their life. I’m not knocking them for that at all because you gotta do what’s right for you. I’m not a person who needs a lot of that to stay on the right path, know how to respect people, and respect, believe and fear in God. So I don’t put a lot into religion.
In many of your most memorable film roles you play the no-nonsense character with a compassionate heart. Is this the real Ice Cube?
I guess in some ways but every situation my character is in—I don’t know if I would handle in the exact same way. Everybody brings a piece or sensibility about themselves to the role. That’s why you’re right for that role. It’s not because you’re that person or want to be the person, it’s just you can act like that person.
There’s a generation coming up that more readily identifies you as an actor than a rapper. How does that make you feel?
That’s cool. The music business is really a lot about who’s the new face of the day. The rookies get more light than the veterans like the NBA or NFL. So that’s just the nature in the game. No matter who you are, you got three years in the tip top. Where you land on the mountain from there is really on you and your ability to create longevity for yourself.
So some people know me by my movies and that’s cool. But I still have a lot of music fans who are not too old to love hard-core intelligent hip-hop, and they still wanna listen to it.
What’s your response to those that say you’re a sell-out for starting out in gangsta rap and then making family films and venturing into Hollywood?
F*** ‘em! Nobody’s gonna criticize my path and the way I become successful. I don’t really care about ‘em. That’s really on them. I’m pretty sure most of them would have taken the same opportunities I’ve taken if they were presented with them. You shouldn’t get caught up in the movie like that’s a real person. That’s where people mistake the movie for who a person is and that’s just not true. It’s a character and that’s how I look at it. I don’t look at it like hard-core gangsta. I can’t do it. That’s crazy! I don’t know who would turn down $10 million just to keep it gangsta.
Many of the film’s you’ve produced, wrote, directed, and/or starred in have been significantly less controversial than your music. Has that been a deliberate decision?
In a lot of ways that’s kind of how we got started. For us it seems like the easiest movies to get made are comedies or movies with more of a light-hearted—they’re just easier for Cube Vision to get made because of our track record.
Whenever we get in business with a new company that’s the first thing they want out the box since that’s what we do best. So people want us at Cube Vision for our specialty which is the urban comedy that’s a little real, a little fantasy, a little upbeat, and a little gritty, so it’s all that. That’s just the nature of it.
With our future movies we’re starting to come out of that. My next movie produced by Cube Vision is a straight drama. To me it’s a marathon. I plan on being in this business for a long time. So those movies that are a little more gritty and my taste all the way are coming in the future.
You released a new song, "Gangsta Rap Made Me Do It", in which the video and some of the lyrics address the current debate over the content in hip-hop. What is the point of view on that debate that you’re trying to get across with the song and video?
That anybody who wants to say that the world’s problems are associated with gangsta rap is hypocritical. It’s crazy! You can’t blame the messenger for the message and you can’t blame the mirror if you’re ugly. Hip-hop has done all kinds of forms. Gangsta hip-hop is one form of it but all the world’s problems don’t stem from it. That’s kind of what I was trying to say in a sarcastic way that I can do anything; and all I gotta say is gangsta rap made me do it and everybody is gonna agree. Then I went on throughout the song to show you how absurd that sounds.
Did the most recent debate over hip-hop’s content make you at all reconsider some of your own lyrics from the past and/or present?
No, never because rap ain’t no time capsule. So I’ll never change.
What more can we expect from the upcoming album, Raw Footage?
A record that’s not worried about commercial success but worried about satisfying that intelligent true hip-hop fan that wants real lyrics; not no cartoon or comic book lyrics; but real stuff that real people deal with everyday; and speaking on it and putting it to good music—kind of what you got with "Gangsta Rap Made Me Do It". It’s not just shake you’re a** music, but music that goes straight to the brain.
What are your thoughts on the current hip-hop scene? Earlier you mentioned that the rookies get more spotlight than the veterans so what are your thoughts on that situation?
My first three years as a solo artist was the same way. So that’s just the game. That ain’t no complaint. The game is what it is. You got young people trying to be dope, trying to be heard, and some of them get seen and heard. There’s all different kinds of outlets.
What I’m worried about is the fact that a lot of musicians can’t really make a living through music no more, but there’s a lot of ways and technologies for you to get music. You can get it on your phone, on the computer, you can get it everywhere. But what happens in 25 years when this creative dude is not doing music because ain’t no money in it.
So you never get to hear what he really had to say ‘cause he’s doing something else to make money. Then we got all these ways to get music but nobody’s doing no new music, and all we’re doing is recycling old music because the well done run dry. Those kinds of things concern me more than just what rap is doing. Music period is gonna be dead!
What are your thoughts on the current West Coast hip-hop scene?
It’s always where it has been. This is the underground hip-hop out here. We always on the fringes so ain't nothing changed—that’s where we are. Really, I don’t even see us as part of the hip-hop community out here which is west coast. It’s always pushing a rock uphill to be heard, seen, or whatever. For myself, I’ve done other things to keep myself in the spotlight. That ain’t because we ain’t doing good music out here, it’s just because people got that perception in their mind. They don’t want to support our style. They’ll take it but they don’t want to support it unless we do some astronomical record.
Someone reading this might view your comments on the state of music as sounding very pessimistic. With that said is it still a thrill for you to record? Do you still enjoy making music in this environment?
Yeah, now more than ever because I’m not doing it because I got to live off of it. I don’t expect no commercial success off of Raw Footage and I’m cool with that. I’m doing what I want to do, how I wanna do it, and straight for the fans. So I’m not caring about the sales as much. Of course I want to make back what I put in the record. Everything after that is gravy. So to be in that position I feel like I’m a true MC and not an MC that’s playing this bullshit game.
One of your past collaborators, Nate Dogg, was in the news recently with reports that he suffered a stroke. What can you tell us about his condition as of now?
I was out of town. I just got back in town last night so I don’t really know more than anybody else. I just know he suffered it about a week ago from what I hear. I ain’t really heard too much since I been back. So hopefully he’s doing better. Anybody can suffer from that at anytime.
Do you have plans to visit him?
No. I’m gonna give him a call. When my grandmother had her stroke she didn’t really want to see or talk to anybody for a while. So I’ll see how down he is and if he’s up for it I’ll go holla at him. If not, then I’ll give him his space. A lot of people want to wait till they’re all the way recovered before you come around.
What else do you have coming up that you can tell us about?
I’m working on a movie called Come Back. That’s the drama that I was talking about. I just started an internet network for artists and companies who want a real channel. We just started it with DJ Pooh. Me and him wrote Friday, together and he helped produce Death Certificate.
Me and him created this website called UVNTV.com and it’s dope! Snoop [Dogg] got a channel called 24/7 Hip-Hop. We’re just running, playing videos, and hopefully it’ll turn into the ESPN of hip-hop in the near future. These things are really exciting because our technology in streaming is better than anybody—Youtube, MySpace, or anybody because we’re using something better than flash technology. So that’s the shit!
You’re already a legend and you have had so much success. What more do you want to accomplish in your career and personal life now?
Get better at what I do. Set my family up, my kids, and make sure they can make a living. And grow my company—not sell it.
For more information on Ice Cube please visit:
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