Ice Cube may be known as one of those rappers that your kids wouldn’t truly understand was once the “N*gga You Love To Hate.” Especially not after those kiddie flicks and mellow acting gigs. Nothing in there really says that O’Shea Jackson was a “N*gga With an Attitude,” does it? Unfortunately, after Ice Cube clobbered the world with precious jewels like Amerikkka’s Most Wanted and Death Certificate, he didn’t get killed. As silly as it sounds, it is quite true. If Ice Cube got gunned down right around the time Predator and Lethal Injection dropped, he would be hailed as “The Greatest of All Time.” Instead, Cube fucked up and lived and as a result got sonned by Common, put out a couple of forgettable albums with forgettable singles (“We Be Clubbin” anyone?) and went from Doughboy to some man taking care of Nia Long’s kids in “Are We There Yet?” Yup, only in Hip Hop does it suck to live. At any rate, Ice Cube is back (supposedly) and has felt the need to once again be that guy you kinda love to hate. With people like Lil Jon, Snoop Dogg and WC with him, can his new album Laugh Now Cry Later rekindle the fire reminiscent of the LA Riots over a decade ago?
The answer is trapped within the confines of 20 head scratching tracks. On one hand, Ice Cube reminds us how dope he is with songs like “Child Support” where Cube lets everyone know that he was the original gangsta with a conscious. The Scott Storch laced “Why We Thugs” is filled with vintage Cube commentary and may shock a few kids who aren’t quite ready for this Ice Cube. Cube even brings the fire to Flava Flav’s ass on “The Nigga Trap” with vintage in your face lines like “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 quite “Black Korea”, but the closest thing to it.
On the other hand, Cube tries his hand at songs that definitely fit the post-Lethal Injection Ice Cube (read: wack). “Doin’ What It ‘Pose 2Do?” is plain nonsense coming from an artist the caliber of Ice Cube. “You Gotta Lotta That” comes from the “Put Your Back Into It” scrapbook and should have been scrapped a long time ago. He sounds a little awkward with Lil’ Jon producing “Go To Church”, but that’s a minor blemish on a solid album. But at 20 tracks it wouldn’t hurt to hit the chopping block and get rid of tracks like “Spittin’ Pollaseeds” and the horrific album closer “Holla @ Cha Boy” that leaves a bad taste in your mouth.
So what do we have exactly with Laugh Now Cry Later? To cap off the album Cube says “to all the niggas that said I went Hollywood/I’m a gangsta, I know when I got it good” on “Child Support” and you can obviously feel it within the album. No, it’s not the jheri curled Ice Cube, but it damn sure is the closest thing to it. And for many of us that wrote Ice Cube off years ago it feels really damn good to know that he still has a little street knowledge left in him.
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