Damn. Ice Cube is still doing it,son. Twenty-six years in the game and the man known as O’Shea Jackson is a Hip-Hop legend. One can say what they want about his acting ability and sub par releases in recent years, but this fact still remains; Ice Cube is still relevant. In recent years, Cube has become known more for his movies (good and bad) than for his emceeing. Truth be told, it’s become a natural progression for emcees to go from rapper, to celebrity to actor to, well…. actor – just ask The Fresh Prince. But I guess Cube ain’t goin’ out like that. With his newest opus and ninth solo LP, I Am The West, Cube sets out to prove that his mic skills and to a lesser degree, west coast Hip-Hop are alive and kicking.
I Am The West begins in grand style with the Bizness produced banger “Soul On Ice”, a track in which Cube drops one braggadocio line after another. The track finds Cube at his best, flowing hard over stout production. The Sir Jinx produced “Life in California” has a pure west coast vibe with a complementary guest list in Jayo Felony, W.C. and the Mack 10-ish Young Maylay. Cube talks pure west coast on “Life in California”, taking shots and also defending his coast with “And Jay-Z can rap about the NYC / Why can’t I talk about the shit I see? / Without Alicia Keys going R&B / This is ain’t no Motown. This is R.A.P.”.
I Am The West shows a refreshed and seemingly pissed off Ice Cube. As we know, Don Mega is always at his best when angry. Cube has built his career and reputation on verbal murder and tracks such as “Too West Coast”, “I Rep That West” and “Drink The Kool Aid” show Cube once again pimp-slapping the competition like Katt Williams. Cube takes shots at the younger generation of emcees on “No Country For Young Men” spitting that “most emcees are god damn liars”. Cube’s rage works well, contributing to the success of these tracks.
A toned down Cube also works well on tracks such as the politically charged “Hood Robbin” and on the surprising dedication track “Nothin Like LA”. The track, though corny, is amazingly honest and finds Cube actually talking about his wife and mate of 21 years.
With all of the positives, Cube embarrasses himself in what appears to be an effort to make club friendly tracks. Most of these mistakes are made of collabo tracks with Cube’s son, OMG. The combination of weak beats and nap inducing punchlines on tracks such as “She Couldn’t Make It On Her Own”, “Ya’ll Know How I Am”, “It Is What It Is”, “All Day Every Day” and “Fat Cat” kill an otherwise dope album.
Overall, I Am The West is decent albeit flawed release. Cube brings heat and shows that he still has it as en emcee on “I Rep That West” and “Drink The Kool-Aid”, but the weak attempts on failed tracks, bring an otherwise strong LP down. The sixteen tracks could have easily been trimmed to ten and doing so would have served to produce a more cohesive and focused LP.
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