As a music fan, there are a few things harder to accept than
a favorite artist changing away from the music that made you a fan in the first
place. In his heyday, Ice Cube was nothing short of an
awe-inspiring emcee. He was the intelligent gangsta rapper who would put anyone
and anything on blast. But as the former NWA emcee grew into a
successful actor his anger faded and his music suffered as a result. "The Wrong Nigga To Fuck
Wit" was making songs like "We Be Clubbin'," and it was a hard pill
to swallow. The transformation was understandable (even though the shitty beat
selection was not), he was no longer an angry young black man from South
Central and he wasn't going to keep rapping like one.
But just because he couldn't rap about shit like he was still 19, that didn't
mean that as a grown man there weren't issues at hand outside of telling women "you
can do it, put your ass into it". It seems as if Cube has
realized that as well. Laugh Now, Cry Later is in many ways a return
to form for O'Shea Jackson. For the first time in a decade, Cube
is cutting throats again. He comes out with guns blazing right away over a
typical Scott Storch banger. "Why We Thugs" is some classic Cube
questioning Uncle Sam: "20 years
for what?/Breakin these laws that's so corrupt/takin' these halls and fillin'em
up/some powder keg shit that's about to erupt." "The Nigga Trapp"
is very much in the same vein and Cube spits some brilliant
shit Flava Flav telling him "Flava Flav with a white
bitch, that is wack/gotta put the nigga back in my Cadillac/take'em to the
hood, where its action packed/let'em know that the targets still on his back"
Not before he puts the target on the President himself; "Recognize who's a
hustla, George Dubya/he's the one who's sittin back fuckin ya/with a big dick
stuck in ya/I'm from a place where the Terminator is the governa." He
keeps it scathing when he blasts anonymous rappers and claims his seed on "Child Support,"
capping it off with the "to all the niggas that said I went Hollywood/I'm a
gangsta, I know when I got it good" Cube reaches his peak
on the title track though, kicking the kind of shit that will make you say he
is one of the greatest emcees of all-time, not that he was one of the
greatest emcees of all-time.
Even when Cube isn't saying too much he still sounds real dope
over choice production. See the ganja anthem "Smoke Some Weed," "Doin' What It 'Pose 2 Do,"
Clack, Get Back." Shit, he even sounds dope over a Lil Jon
beat on "Go To Church."
The only real problems lie in the excessive material (20 tracks and 17 songs),
and a few songs could have easily been loped off. "Game Lord," "You Gotta Love That,"
Pollaseeds" just aren't up to par with the rest of the LP, even
though they aren't terrible by any means. However, the albums closer "Holla @ Cha Boy"
is quite terrible and a head-scratching inclusion. It's even harder to figure
out why he'd close the album with this song.
To anyone who grew up jheri curl Cube the way I did: rest assured,
the real Cube is back. One of the most poignant, intelligent,
out-spoken and flat out brilliant rappers to ever grip a mic is just that once
again. After a period of being a washed up rapper-turned-actor making little
other than cookie cutter party tunes, The Predator has
returned to prove that he never lost it; he just chose not to use it. Bow down.