DECEMBER 2003/JANUARY 2004

Ice Cube

[MUSICIAN/ACTOR]

“MUSIC IS A MIRROR OF WHAT WE’RE GOING THROUGH, NOT THE CAUSE OF WHAT WE’RE GOING THROUGH. IT’S A REACTION, IT’S OUR ONLY WEAPON, IT’S OUR ONLY WAY TO PROTECT OURSELVES, IT’S OUR ONLY WAY TO FIT, IT’S OUR ONLY WAY TO GET THERE.”
Before rap music, New York might as well have been:
Paris
Africa
Australia
A thousand miles away from a thirteen-year-old Ice Cube

Once upon a time, the name Ice Cube was analogous to explicit lyrics, guns, women as “bitches,” South Central, and attitude. Bad attitude. Not to mention mind-blowing rap music wrapped in raw emotions. But those were Ice Cube’s teen years, before he married Kimberly Jackson, became father to four kids, and turned into a true Hollywood player. A legend long before he turned thirty, Ice Cube, together with his fellow N.W.A. members, revolutionized not only the rap/hiphop genre, but all music, by making it OK for musicians to speak their minds and then some.

Over the last decade, Ice Cube, whose given name is O’shea Jackson, has made more waves in the film business than in the music business. This is no coincidence. Ice Cube’s Hollywood game plan has been to produce reasonably budgeted films featuring themes and characters the audience would actually go and see. The Friday franchise, of which he is the backbone and originator, has made over $200 million. After revamping the Barbershop script and tailoring his role as barbershop owner Calvin, the film grossed almost $80 million. And that was before the DVD release.

As an actor, Ice Cube is well on his way to the Hollywood A-list. His performances in Boyz N the Hood and Three Kings were astounding. Next year, Ice Cube is replacing Vin Diesel in the XXX sequel. He has a starring role in the upcoming film Torque (January 2004) and is in preproduction of his own script, Are We There Yet? His new album, Terrorist Threats, will be out on December 9th.

On a recent Monday afternoon, Ice Cube talked to the Believer, for almost two hours, from his home somewhere outside L.A.

—Linda Saetre

*

THE BELIEVER: What musical forms influenced you early in your career?

ICE CUBE: Soul, funk, a little disco. I grew up in the seventies and disco was big. That influenced me the most. Also, you know, comedians of the day. People like Richard Pryor, even people like Muhammad Ali. All these people are pre-rap, you know what I mean? You heard someone like Richard Pryor saying the things he said on stage—and getting a reaction. You figured if you’re rapping and if you’re saying exactly what’s on your mind, you would get a similar reaction—and it happened. So I wouldn’t discredit what the comedians of the day, even Eddie Murphy, contributed to the music and us having the attitude we had.

All the bragging and the bravado of Muhammad Ali, man, that’s where the rappers started getting the attitude from. Seeing black men up there basically saying what they had on their mind, and it subconsciously gave us the courage to do what we were starting to do.

We hope you enjoy this excerpt.

To read the full piece, please visit our store to purchase a copy of the magazine.

Linda Saetre is an international film and documentary distributor who is always on her way to Europe somewhere. She lives in the East Village and works on Park Avenue.

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