In an illustrious career that spans over two decades and half a dozen facets of the entertainment industry, Ice Cube’s loyalties will also reside in Hip Hop. Ever since breaking mainstream ground with Straight Outta Compton and former group N.W.A., the veteran Los Angeles rapper has been an adamant fixture in challenging the status quo, and the same should hold true for his upcoming album Everythang’s Corrupt. Lead by the title-track, Everythang’s Corrupt will shed light on today’s cultural hypocrisy in a way only Cube could illustrate.
Speaking with HipHopDX last week, Ice Cube discussed the approach he took in making Everythang’s Corrupt and why he’s refrained from littering his album with unnecessary features. A gatekeeper of the West Coast scene, Cube also commended Kendrick Lamar’s latest efforts and explained how N.W.A. set the tone for more creative freedom within the industry.
HipHopDX: You’re fittingly releasing the record and video “Everythang’s Corrupt” from the new album by the same name on the eve of the 2012 election. It has the tagline in the hook, “For my birthday, buy me a politician.” Was it a conscious decision to open up your new album campaign with this record?
Ice Cube: You know, this record is for the political heads. This to me is more a leak at the right time, in time, to drop it. We could have dropped a more catchier tune, but the time wouldn’t have been right. The time is right for “Everythang’s Corrupt,” so that’s what we wanted to do. We wanted to drop it at this point and time, and then come with a visual to highlight what we’re saying in the music.
DX: Hearing Rage Against The Machine’s guitarist Tom Morello shredding in the background really brings a raw yet refreshing vibe to the record that I think wouldn’t have been present if it were just simply done on a computer program. With both of you sharing similar identities when it comes to socio-political views, what took so long for you guys to hook up on a track?
Ice Cube: It’s just one of those things where we ain’t really cross each other’s path. I’m one of those artists who thinks we have to get a bond before you can really jump in there and do something cool. I haven’t really been into record companies throwing things together, so that’s why things don’t happen. He’s cool so it was only right, and I’m hoping we can do more stuff.
DX: With your last album I Am West released in 2010, and looking at some of the other track list titles you have for this album, “One For The Money,” “The Big Show,” “Can I Get Some Of That West Coast Shit,” what else has O’Shea Jackson seen in the last three years that you’re bringing to the table with Everythang’s Corrupt?
Ice Cube: Well you know, I got a song on there called “Dominate The Weak,” which is really what you feel sometimes from being in America. Sometimes it feels like a police state in a lot of ways. I wrote that record when a lot of that whole 99% thing was going on and the crackdowns that were starting to happen. It just kind of made me think of that record. That’s one of those political songs to me that’s vintage Ice Cube.
DX: Earlier this year you said the album was a little over halfway done. With the projected scheduled release date for January 2013, who else have you gotten a chance to work with on this new album?
Ice Cube: Really, a lot of the producers that I’ve been working with, and I got my sons [OMG and Doughboy] on the record. When I go to do a record, the last thing I’m thinking about is who else I can work on it with. I really think I’m a throwback when it comes to that. I think when you buy an Ice Cube record, that’s what you should get. I don’t really like doing these compilation-type records, I don’t really like hearing them either. That’s what I try to do when I do a record, to make sure it’s my internal thoughts and feelings and really getting a slice of me and not just a bunch of features.
DX: Defintely. I think you can say the same thing about a buzzing artist from the West Coast in Kendrick Lamar. It’s clear as a veteran emcee who’s been an integral part of laying down a foundation for Los Angeles rappers, that’s still evident today as well with Kendrick. He’s even named Death Certificate as one of the essential albums he listened to growing up. With that said, how does it feel to see someone like Kendrick successfully maneuvering through the industry in an honest manner?
Ice Cube: It’s great, man. It’s great for true artists who are not people who are chasing the charts or worried about who’s on the Billboard [charts]. You can respect an artist like that. We are like painters; you either do it because you love it or you do it ‘cause you’re trying to get rich. I think people can see that, and they reward true talent. When true talent steps on the scene, it should be rewarded, whether it’s deep music that grips your soul or it’s just booty-shaking music. If you’re a true original, you should be recognized and applauded to reap the benefits more than these one-hitter-quitters that you see.
DX: It’s crazy to think that Kendrick was only a few months old when N.W.A. And The Posse was released in 1987, and yet that sound is still relevant today. It speaks to your longevity.
Ice Cube: Yeah. It’s a thing where N.W.A. changed the trajectory of a lot of pop culture to the point where it still lingers, just how ferocious that music was and how unforgiving the music was. To me, there’s a reason why N.W.A. is considered the world’s most dangerous group. N.W.A. really set the tone for shows like The Sopranos or The Osbournes, even stuff like Family Guy, just how far they take it on TV. I don’t think a reality show would ever get made without N.W.A. People cuss, [they] say “Fuck, shit” and it’s okay, bleep it. Let people be themselves, let artists be themselves. You don’t have to be fake to be a star.