Dubcnn was among a privileged few to sit with the legendary Hip Hop icon, Ice Cube. The room of interviewers were chomping at the bit to chat with the 20 year Rap veteran and Cube enthusiastically talked about his new album, I Am The West, and his stance on the simmering debate over Old West vs. New West. Cube also discusses what role his successes out side of Hip Hop play in his music today. Aspiring entrepreneurs will want to read about the importance of vision in Cube’s illustrious career. Ever the mogul, we also learn about two of Cube’s new film projects: the ESPN documentary Straight Outta L.A. and his new film Lottery Ticket.
This is a must read not only for Ice Cube fans but lovers of Hip Hop. Is Cube The West? Take a few minutes to listen and read and you can judge for yourself. http://www.dubcnn.com/interviews/icecube2010/
Interviewer #1: The I Am The West album is coming out, what is the statement behind that title right there?
Cube: It’s kinda self explanatory. You know, I am the West. When you sum it up and you look at longevity and continuity and content…it sums it up. There’s only a few people that can be on the West Coast Mount Rushmore and I’m one of them. So to me it is what it is.
Interviewer #1: You did the Rock the Bells last year and now you are headlining this Paid Dues. What made you want to be a part of all of these huge independent festivals recently?
Cube: I love it. This is the world we come out of. We come out of the independent world with Ruthless. Even though we were quickly signed by Priority (Records) the mentality had always stayed independent. By me doing Laugh Now, Cry Later in 2006 and kind of throwing my hat in as an artist in the independent world…we’d been independent with Lench Mob Records since ’94 with KD and Caution. So this is right up my alley.
Interviewer #1: You’re independently putting out the documentary with the Raiders too. What’s that project about?
Cube: Well, that’s not necessarily independent. That’s with ESPN for their 30 for 30 and they approached me to do it. They have 30 film makers to do these films…sports films or anything you wanted to do. I picked Straight Outta L.A. from when the L.A. Raiders were in L.A. because it affected NWA so much and I was kinda like, nobody would have told that story right unless I did it…so I jumped at the chance.
Dubcnn: With Lench Mob Records when your putting out projects now and being independent, how do you judge success? What’s a successful project for you?
Cube: Well, right now it’s really if my fans like it. If my core fans like the project…I really can’t trip on numbers because numbers come and go. I’ve had records that sell a whole lot and records that haven’t sold a whole lot. But to me it’s not really about that. It’s about whether or not your core fan enjoys the record. Because to me that’s the only success an emcee really can measure himself off of.
I never was a fan of measuring yourself off of sales because those numbers come and they go. Vanilla Ice has one of the highest selling Hip Hop albums in Rap history (laughs). But who cares how much money you make if you don’t like it? So to me that’s the most important thing. You know, rappers in the ‘90’s go caught up in the ‘I got platinum on the wall and I got gold on the wall’ but they ain’t got no lyrics in the mouth. So I just wanted to go back to the essence. So I measure myself on people’s enjoyment.
Interviewer #2: What’s it like being 20 years in the game and having all of the younger generation looking up to you now? Back in the day you used to look up to people…how does it feel to have the roles switched?
Cube: It feels good, you know? I love all the young emcees that are trying to do their thang. I know its been going back and forth about the New West …I got love for the New West, I mean why wouldn’t I? But I don’t got love for nobody dissing the Old West, you know what I meant? That’s where I got a problem because we put it down. We made it possible. We got some light shined this way to make it possible for all that come after us. And they gotta pay respect to that. And they can’t diss that. And if they do, then they got to see me.
Interviewer #2: You’ve definitely paid dues.
Cube: Definitely and that’s why I’m here. The Paid Dues Festival.
Interviewer #3: Cube? Can I call you Mr. Cube?
Cube: You can call me Mr. Cube. I’ll take it.
Interviewer #3: You’ve been doing so many things in entertainment…I’m feeling like there’s a cookbook next in line. (laughs)
Cube: Nah man. I’m not gonna work on no damn cookbook. Y’all don’t wanna eat my cooking. Trust me.
Dubcnn: With the anniversary of Amerikka’s Most Wanted 20 years ago…one of the things that attracted me to you in terms of your rapping style was the passion and the furrowed eyebrow. It seems like you’re really getting back to that the last three albums. Does success (in particular) the success you’ve had outside of music give you that freedom to really step outside of what the industry wants and allow you to do what you really want to do and give the fans what they’re really clamoring for? The old Ice Cube with the Jherri Curl and all that.
Cube: As an artist you’re always conflicted because you don’t want to be a one trick pony. You don’t want people to say, ‘Ah, I heard that back in ’91. He’s doing the same thing.’ So you always try to figure out and calibrate should you flip the script and change the style up or how much should you keep it the same? There’s always a balance.
For me, I just stopped worrying about that stuff. To me I just let the beat take me. I hear the music and the music tells me what I need to do and how I need to come at it. And I just simplify the process. You know, I get hot beats but if they don’t speak to me and songs don’t come off of those beats then they just sit there, you know? Or I’ll get a beat and the song will just come up right away. So I just start going back to the essence on how I used to do music before I got famous and before people started expecting certain things of me. Now I just do what I feel and just let the chips fall where they may.
Interviewer #1: Piggybacking off of his question, B.E.T. just played Boyz in the Hood for the 10,000th time with the Jherri Curl and the whole thing. You’re one of the few rappers that can do hardcore Hip Hop and then turnaround and do Are We There Yet. How do you maintain that balance of credibility?
Cube: I just be myself. I just feel like if you be yourself then people will accept you. People know that nobody’s hard 24 hours a day. And that most people are well-rounded and have a sense of humor and a serious side. So I felt like it’s real to show that. I remember when I was about to record It Was A Good Day and people in the studio, I ain’t gonna name no names, was like you can’t do that record. And I said why the f*ck not? (laughs) Why can’t I do that record? They said, ‘Because your sh*t is hard! And if you say you’re having a good day then you ain’t hard.’
And I said, ‘Bullsh*t! That is hard because it’s being real’. And that should be hard enough. Real should be hard enough. And if real ain’t hard enough then I don’t know what the f*ck I’m doing here. So that’s why I can do that song because I feel like it’s true to what it is. Same reason I can do those movies, you know? I feel like I do got a sense of humor and I can put it on camera and it doesn’t make me any less harder than what I am right now.
Interviewer #1: Break down (the movie) Lottery Ticket for me. It’s the new comedy you have coming out with Brandon T. Jackson, Bow Wow…
Cube: It’s a movie that was brought to CubeVision that we took on to produce. It’s starring Bow Wow and it’s a good script. Its about what happens when you win the lottery and the time before you actually get the money. How hectic your life is and everybody thinks you’re rich before you even get the money in your hands. It’s dealing with that moment in time before…everybody knows you have all this money but you don’t have all this money. It’s kind of how the neighborhood is coming at you from there. It’s a good movie. It will be out in August.
Interviewer #4: On a different subject…who are you biggest influences and who’d you look up to the most when you started?
Cube: My biggest influence in my life is my father. I’m just happy he stayed around and didn’t break out like a lot of fathers do. But I looked up to people like (Dr.) Dre and Chuck D and Russell Simmons. As far as films…John Singleton and people that I saw my age that were doing it big. I looked up to those dudes and wanted to do it big too..
Dubcnn: You mentioned Russell Simmons and (you are) a producer, a director and an artist. You have to have vision. Talk about how vision plays a part in what you’re doing now and what you plan to do 3, 5, 10 years from now.
Cube: Vision is everything. If you don’t see yourself doing it then it won’t get done. You have to visualize success. It’s to the point where when I get a good idea my wife and I say, ‘Don’t say it out loud because once it goes in the air somebody else might grab that idea and start working on it.’ So its real…you have to visualize success and if you don’t you can never get there. If you never see yourself wining then how can you win?
My vision is just…its not a vision of looking 10 or 20 years in front of me. I’m looking at what is my next move and making sure I execute that to the fullest. Then I step onto the next. Sometimes you look so much ahead and you never deal with the job at hand because you’re looking at…I’m not worried about what I got to do tomorrow. I’m worried about what I gotta do right now. I keep it simple like that but I also have a plan for the future but you gotta execute today and the future will usually take care of itself.
Interviewer #4: Can you tell me about what does paying dues mean to you? And advice for artists trying to make it in any industry.
Cube: Paying dues is starting from the bottom and doing whatever it takes to be successful. I’ve carried crates of records for people like Dre and DJ Yella. I’ve lifted Cerwin Vega’s and put speakers up and all that kind a sh*t. It’s pay ya dues type of work to get to where you are. I’ve been in rap contests and battles on Senior Quad and all that sh*t in high school. All that is paying your dues. Getting in the industry and paying respect and homage to the people that have been there before but also wanting to be better then them…not dissing them, but wanting to be better. To me this is all a part of paying your dues and when you do it right I think you get in a position where I’m in right now.