Ice Cube’s ninth studio album I Am the West signifies an effort to bring left coast music not just to the forefront of Hip Hop again, but also to what the genre was once heralded for. Whether Cube was able to accomplish this with the LP is contentious, however the veteran emcee is still talking up ideas in which the West can return to the days of nostalgia.

“My inspiration behind the album was, I felt like West coast artists have been searching for what we need to do to get the attention of the industry,” he told Billboard. “Ultimately what I said is we need to do what we do best. To do the music that we made famous, which is hardcore gangster rap and in my case, be proud of the West and our contributions to what we did and what we’re doing for Hip Hop.”

His message was not just aimed at artists of what is called the New West. He also spoke up on what he thinks is a missing element in the new era of music: respect.

“If you don’t respect the game, you’re not going to win. So that’s the key–to respect the game, and respect the art of it. And if you do that, you got a good foundation for good things to happen. But if you just in it for the money and the flash, or for the girls or whatever you think you’re gonna get out of it, that’s gonna take your focus away from what really matters and that’s the music.” Ice Cube’s experience in the industry finds its roots with NWA, which he says opened doors for all kinds of music.

“NWA for better or for worse, opened up all of pop art–not just music, but everybody now feels they can be themselves. Nobody has to put on a facade, change who they are to be famous.You can do it how you feel it.

Cube’s latest album was released on indie label Lench Mob. He explained how making music on an independent label has been liberating for him. “I’ve had more fun making these independent records than I ever did on a label. It’s just more freedom. We make the decisions. We decide how we’re going to promote. It’s not a meeting. It’s not a big old corporate thing. It’s just my team. I want my records to play on the radio too. And it’s a shame that they don’t because I’m not on a major label. That’s what sucks, is that major labels get all the love when it comes to mainstream outlets and for people to hear the music, see the music and want to buy the music. It’s an uphill battle, but I’m an underdog and I love taking this road. It’s the only road I know, really.”