After four long years, Ice Cube is making his triumphant return to hip-hop in 2014. Everythang’s Corrupt will be the West Coast OG’s 10th solo studio album, slated to hit stores on May 13. The iconic rapper took his fame in music and built a career as an actor, churning in mega hits such as the Friday and Barbershop franchises, a series of action movies and, most recently, a lead role alongside Kevin Hart in the cop comedy Ride Along, which hits theaters Jan. 17. So with so much successes outside of music, why come back now? Ice Cube hopped on the phone with XXL to share his thoughts on what to expect from his new album, his biggest regret as an artist, and working with Kevin Hart. —Emmanuel C.M. (@ECM_LP)
XXL: Tell me about the new album.
Ice Cube: It’s just Ice Cube talking shit about everything and everybody. Everythang’s Corrupt is the name of the album. The album is not over-political, but there’s political undertones to it. But it’s just gangsta rap, talking about things, situations and issues that we dealing with, but just also showing skills and classic Ice Cube.
What are some of the political topics you touch on?
“Everythang’s Corrupt” is the lead track; it’s basically talking about [how] everywhere you look, corruption has poisoned us. The hook says, “For my birthday, buy me a politician,” which is basically the jist of the sound. But I got songs on there like “Dominating The Weak,” which is really what the system is all about, putting the sheep asleep and dominating the weak. There’s a record on there talking about everybody popping pills. That’s the new thing to do. It’s this and that on there, it’s not an overly political album, and it’s more like a hardcore album.
Who do you have as features?
I’m not big on features; I’m really old school when it comes to that. When you buy an Ice Cube record, you want to listen to Ice Cube. I think it takes skills to be able to hold a whole album by yourself. I pride myself on being able to do that, maintain a whole record without too many features. We’ve got one or two, and I’m not sure how many we’re going to keep on the album.
How about producers?
I worked with Hallway Productionz, Magneto and a couple more guys. The other producers are pretty much unknown dudes who just got dope beats. I’ve never really been a guy—to me, the music speaks to me, not the name. Throughout my whole career I always used a mixture of top-notch producers and new producers.
I saw yours and Kevin Hart’s AMA on Reddit and I saw this question that struck my interest. A fan asked, “What is your biggest regret as an artist?” and you answered, “Not being able to work with Dr. Dre as much on music.” Do you think that’s something that could happen in the future?
Maybe; it’s really on him. He’s always been ultra committed to other things, so it’s really on Dre. I would always jump at the chance to be in the studio with him. It could happen in the future. But up until now, that’s one of my biggest regrets, that we ain’t been able to make that happen more.
Why put out an album now after so much success outside of music?
I love doing hip-hop. I have been dropping records since forever. It’s just my status in the music game [was] more high profile back in the day; now it’s a little underground. I would always do music no matter my status in movies at all. It’s really the freedom that an artist is looking for.
Ride Along looks like a hilarious movie; you and Kevin Hart are the perfect team, kind of reminiscent of the Bad Boys franchise. You think this has the potential to be similar?
I hope so; that’s our dream, to have a franchise and do multiple films and do multiple Ride Alongs. it really depends on the audience’s reception to the movie. For us it’s a no-brainer.
How was working with Kevin Hart?
He’s one of the best pros I’ve worked with. He’s polished. He can give you hood comedy, he can give you mainstream comedy, he can give you whatever you need, and he has multiple flavors. It’s cool to work with somebody who’s such a pro. I felt like I was in good hands, and he felt like he was in good hands. We both played our lane and it turned out good for us.
How do you juggle music and acting?
I usually do it either/or. If I’m on a movie, I don’t do no recording, and when I’m done with the movie, I go back to doing music. I try not to do both at the same time because usually the music suffers. So I just decided to do the movies and work on that. And when I’m not, focus on music.
So when did you put together the album?
I’ve been recording over the last 18 months; I got a lot of songs to pick from.
What do you think of hip-hop now?
I love it; hip-hop has been always able to morph to whatever you need it to be. Nothing will be like the Golden Years, the ’80s and ’90s, as far as [how] lucrative hip-hop was. As far as skill and people that are out, I think the people that are supposed to be on top, are. I don’t think wack ass people [are] getting on top like they used to. The ’80s and ’90s, you had a wack ass artists make it to the top with phony ass songs. Now I think we passed that; you got to have skills.