Rap has emerged as one of the most powerful cultural forces in the last 30 years because of its ability to address and examine uncomfortable topics in uncompromising, unflinching ways. And there is one man who has unquestionably done it the best during that entire span. His name: Ice Cube.
The legendary rapper’s new collection, Raw Footage, finds Ice Cube bashing corrupt governmental practices, inspiring listeners, creating brilliant storylines while still making time to enjoy himself and showcase his braggadocio side. All of these components make up Ice Cube — and his latest masterpiece. He says with a smirk, “I’m Raw Footage. Lyrically, what I’m all about, how I think, what I say and what I do. The album is really about music for the brain and not the booty. I can’t really show it visually, but I can speak it in a visual way by delivering it raw.”
The collection’s lead single, “Gangsta Rap Made Me Do It,” has been hailed by MTV as the first great rap song of 2008 and earned a coveted slot in The Source’s Fat Tape section.
Ice Cube wants listeners to use Raw Footage as a source of information and a resource to look toward for inspiration and solutions. “When you stop dreaming, you’re really on the path to nowhere because everything starts with a dream, an idea, a wish, a hope,” he says. “We find ourselves in a lot of what looks like hopeless situations, but nothing is hopeless if you really look at it. There’s always a way up. I just don’t want people to be like, ‘Forget it. That’s just the way it is,’ and give up. The worst thing we can do is give up, because once you do, the system will devour you.” Ice Cube has been looking at untouched topics since his emergence as the lyrical mastermind behind N.W.A in the late 1980’s. His solo material, including the classics AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted and Death Certificate, solidified Ice Cube’s place as rap’s most important and socially aware artist. Ice Cube has remained prolific, with 14 releases as a solo artist or a member of a group (Da Lench Mob Westside Connection), including the blockbuster release of Laugh Now, Cry Later, the first album Ice Cube released on his own Lench Mob Records and the most successful independent hip-hop release of 2006. It all adds up to a remarkable rap career that continues expanding and evolving. And with the stellar Raw Footage, Ice Cube extends his bulletproof musical legacy. “This is not hip-hop with a super-inflated ego,” he says. “I don’t believe this is a preachy record. It’s just real and raw. It’s a spiritual record in a lot of ways too. It’s not just hardcore. It’s a record that hopefully touches people deep down inside of them and is not just something that they hear and are like, ‘That’s cool.’ I want it to be something they feel.”