Cube’s Comeback, The Product of Attention Divided.
N.W.A. veteran rapper, Ice Cube, is back to his old tricks, again. The album gives Cube fans some long awaited assurance that this old dog really does have some new shtick. Released early this month, "Laugh now, Cry Later" was produced by Ice Cube’s independent label Lench Mob and it features big name artists including contributions from Swizz Beats, Snoop Dogg, and Lil’ Jon. Not since the release of "Death Certificate" has Ice Cube spit so much hard-hitting politically controversial issues in his rhymes. The issues, albeit, can be considered passe, but are socially and politically relevant none the less. Cube touches on some key modern themes. Everything from the abuse of power in government, challenging the establishment, and the tired topics used in the rhymes of today’s green rappers, to an ever present commentary portraying the harsh realities of rotten ghetto-life conditions.
The album overall is not some of Ice Cubes more ground breaking work. A number of the tracks act as unnecessary filler – the album closer "Holla @ Cha Boy" in particular left much to be desired. On a more positive note, however, "Smoke Some Weed" -- sure to be a memorable and over-played drug anthem in the near future -- uses a dynamic combination of East Indian vibe mixed with the flare of modern day hip hop beats to create a spicy flavor; a sound that I was hoping to hear more of. Unfortunately, the remaining tracks might leave a jaded listener relatively unsatisfied.
It is obvious that Ice Cube did not have the energy to make every track on "Laugh now, Cry Later" a hit – a hapless repercussion that comes of dividing ones attention between music and movies. Although he boasts of his "pyroclastic flow" his delivery comes across as flaccid, stiff, and not comparable to the edge, ease and speed of his flow back in the day.
The selling point of his new LP would definitely have to be the collection of deliciously witty lyrics and memorable imagery set forth by an impressively descriptive narrative style. 20 tracks later and it is difficult to come away from the music without a better understanding of just what the "Definition of a West Coast G." really is. Including some sharp zingers aimed at President Bush and Governor Schwarzenegger, Cube manages to critique even the mentality and conduct of his very own by cutting up "dead beat daddies" and reminiscing on his life as a product of "urban decay."
Cube’s comeback from the movie industry may not convert the masses of new hip hop fans anytime soon, but hardcore life-longers will be able to appreciate this O.G’s loyalty to a style that never dies with the times.