As the godfather of gangsta rap, Ice Cube helped to shape a movement that challenged norms and brought forgotten issues to light. In this SOHH exclusive, the rapper, actor and film director tells us about his new crime comedy, First Sunday, personal responsibility vs. organized religion, and why so many people are jumping on the "Gangsta Rap Made Me Do It" bandwagon.
"It's an easy solution, you know, it's an easy target," Cube told SOHH about blaming gangsta rap for society's problems, which he satirizes in the video for his new lead single, "Gangsta Rap made Me Do It."
"Gangsta rap usually talks about the good, the bad and the ugly of what really happens, every day, not no made-up stuff," he said. "Even the lyrics that are just more or less kind of comic book style are coming from a real place. We just kind of tell it like it is ... so we get blamed. It's like blaming the messenger, or blaming the mirror because you're ugly. You're gonna get nowhere doing that."
The former N.W.A member says he believes in personal responsibility, not blaming decisions on a song.
"People do what they want to do, when they want to do it, how they want to do it, regardless of what they've seen and heard," he said. "Everybody knows right from wrong, I don't care how crazy you are."
"Gangsta Rap Made Me Do It" is the lead single off Cube's latest album, Raw Footage, a "strictly for the Ice Cube fans" joint slated to drop this summer.
"It's strictly for the mature, intelligent hip-hop fans who want it how they used to get it," he said. "I'm not really expecting no commercial success off this record at all. It's dope lyrics, dope beats. No gimmicks, no bullsh*t. Keepin' it real."
Cube will take a slightly more lighthearted approach on First Sunday, the new crime comedy due in theaters next Friday (January 11th, 2008), which he will star in alongside Katt Williams, Tracy Morgan and Regina Hall. Despite the title, the flick is not a continuation of Cube's hugely popular Friday franchise, but a story about two partners in crime who decide to rob a church and learn some unexpected lessons in the process.
"The movie's really funny ... but it's also making a social statement on what churches are to the community," he said. "If somebody would rob a church, evidently they don't respect it for some reason. So that right there is speakin' to a real issue that churches are dealing with today - apathy amongst young people, especially males, going to church."
When it comes to religion, Cube, who just launched an Internet network at uvntv.com with DJ Pooh, said he believes in a higher power, but that's where the devotion ends.
"I don't really care for religion," he said. "To me it's a big mess ... I believe in God, and everything else to me is bullsh*t. I ain't tryin to dis what people are doing, but when you know right from wrong, that's all you need to know."