You don’t just wake up and decide to name your album something as bold and confrontational as I Am the West, unless you have the credentials to back it up and there really isn’t a better representative for the west coast than the icon himself, Ice Cube. With over 20 years in the game, 18 album credits to his name, countless hits, and a few classics beefs under his belt, Cube is the quintessential west coast rapper.
After a brief hiatus from music, the West Coast veteran returned this summer with the announcement that he will be releasing his ninth solo album, I Am the West, and that’s when the drama started. We witnessed Cube in a back and forth with some west coast young cats, taking part in another hit movie via Lottery Ticket, and some new material from the original gangsta rapper that dismissed any thoughts that he fell off. With his album slated to drop out, we were able to catch up with Ice Cube and speak on a few topics surrounding his latest album and everything that goes with is.
What does it really mean to be West Coast? There has to more than what we see in rap videos and movies, so who better to ask about it than a true hip-hop legend on the left side of the country, Ice Cube himself? When you declare that you are “the West,” you should at least be able to say why, so we asked Cube to give us his top reasons why he feels he is the West.
1 – “I’ve been repping the West since day one.”
2 – “I’m one of the godfathers of gangsta rap and sometimes when you’ve been doing it for a long time you got to piss on a few trees to let them know you’re still around.”
3 – “I want to embrace the music that we made famous as well as highlight, let people know our contribution to hip-hop, and embrace the style that the industry has basically thrown away and basically said it’s played out even though everybody else is doing the same version of the sh** we invented. It’s just only right. It ain’t no diss on no other coast, or no diss on no other territory. It’s just basically putting the flag down on our territory and saying this is what I am and you can take it or leave it. It sucks man. You know, it feels f***ed up, it feels like you’re getting something stolen from you, and I don’t mind people because in hip-hop it’s a copycat league. If you do something fly, everybody’s going to be doing it so that don’t bother me. What bothers me is when we’re not acknowledged no more for doing it, even though these guys are doing the exact same thing. It’s like they’re stealing our sh** and selling it and then telling us it’s wack and I’m like ‘Wait a minute, but y’all doing the same thing.’ It’s kind of like frustrating.”
4 – “I could do this sh** until I’m 70.”
When you hear that Ice Cube is putting out a new album, you want to know which songs are going to bang the hardest, so we took the pleasure of asking the man himself which tracks from I Am The West are some of his favorites.
1 – “Too West Coast”
2 – “No Country For Young Men”
3 – “Drink The Kool-Aid”
4 – “Hood Robbin”
The near beef with the West Coast’s next generation of rappers was the talk of the summer and for awhile it seemed like we were going to get a full fledged battle and see Cube relive his “No Vaseline” days, but things simmered down. We still wanted to get his thoughts on the situation now that cooler heads have seemingly prevailed.
1 – “Yeah I think it’s dead and I think it’s dead to them too.”
2 – “I think everybody really don’t see no future in beefs, not with me, so everybody’s pretty much cool.”
3 – “I ain’t addressing it, but I will if motherf***ers come out the woodworks and get their feelings hurt.”
4 – “I already said I wasn’t saying no names right now, but I am adding names.”
When you’ve been in the game for over 20 years and have been a part of as many classic albums as Ice Cube, it’s a pretty good bet that there has been collaboration or two that really stood out above the rest. So we asked Cube to give us the scoop on some of his most memorable collaborations.
1 – “Of course Dr. Dre got to be top of the list.”
2 – “The Bomb Squad because they were creatively superior to any other group that I’ve ever worked with.”
3 – “Chuck D just because he’s my favorite rapper and it was an honor to be able to do records with him.”
4 – “Big Daddy Kane was crazy”
5 – “I got to say jumping on a record with Too Short and Ice-T, Scarface — those were big for me too.”
Nevermind the fact that Ice Cube has a catalog deep enough to warrant his own top 5 greatest west coast albums, we decided to ask Cube to let us in on his personal list of favorite albums from the best coast.
1. Straight Outta Compton (NWA’s second album)
2. Eazy-Duz-It (Eazy E’s solo debut)
3. Rhyme Pays (Ice-T’s solo debut)
4. All Eyez on Me (Tupac’s Death Row Records debut)
5. The Chronic (Dr. Dre’s solo debut) and Doggystyle (Snoop Dogg’s solo debut)