At his concert this past Saturday, at the Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort, while speaking with the audience between songs during his performance, Ice Cube said, “Gangsta rap is the mirror, not the problem.” And he then proceeded to go into his 2008 hit, “Gangsta Rap Made Me Do It.” Like the title suggests, the record (clearly sarcastic in intent) points the finger at gangsta rap for the world’s problems, yet the ridiculousness of such a claim is as apparent as ever in some of the lyrics. I can act like an animal / Ain’t nothin’ to it; gangsta rap made me do it / I can eat you like a cannibal / Ain’t nothin’ to it; gangsta rap made me do it. However, the song sounds serious, and so, ironically, it comes across just as “funny” as the actual detractors who think hardcore rap is the root of all evil.
Therein lies the brilliance of Cube. He knows how to be both fun and serious simultaneously. And because of that, he was able to run through a set of music touching four decades with records spanning a range from each of those two very different emotions and hitting everywhere in between as well.
His show started with the airing of his music video for “Can You Dig It?” which brought those who may have been unaware of Cube’s longevity literally up to speed as the animated clip shows him traveling through some different eras of the past in a Delorean. The segment ends by bringing him into the present day, where his wisdom and experiences captivate a crowd as he stands on a stage.
After a Keith David audio snippet defined a “Pyroclastic Flow,” Ice Cube then actually came out on stage to thunderous applause and began ripping through his hits. Starting funky with “That New Funkadelic” and “Bop Gun (One Nation),” Cube continued to create an upbeat atmosphere with “We Be Clubbin’.”
Once seeing the crowd was really with him, he playfully discussed how people might have thought he lost a step in emceeing abilities due to branching out into other things. But he quickly disintegrated any remaining doubt by going into “Check Yo Self” while the screen behind him cleverly showed short clips from his movies.
Next, after Cube performed the title track to his classic film Friday, he followed it up with a portion of the set devoted to his late-90’s group Westside Connection. Not only did he do the well-known lead singles like “Bow Down” and “Gangsta Nation” (R.I.P. Nate Dogg) from each of their albums, but he also included The Stylistics-sampling second one from their debut, “Gangstas Make the World Go Round.”
Ice Cube then did a few more solo cuts and his part from his 1994 collabo with Dr. Dre, “Natural Born Killaz.” Using the Dre connection as a segue (in addition to giving him props for his upcoming Super Bowl Halftime Show), Cube then did his iconic verses from N.W.A’s “Straight Outta Compton” and “Gangsta, Gangsta.” In one of the set’s most memorable moments, he then jumped into his vicious N.W.A diss, “No Vaseline,” but let the crowd know that was no longer any bad blood and that D.J. Yella’s cousin was even the on-stage photographer.
The last parts of the night’s show mainly consisted of lightening the mood a bit and taking a well-deserved victory lap with chill, celebratory, and fun numbers such as “You Know How We Do It,” “Ain’t Got No Haters,” and “You Can Do It” respectively.
Then, as his closer, he ended with his 1993 smash single, “It Was a Good Day.” Many people in the crowd were singing along. And he even altered one of the lines to say, “the Pistons beat the Supersonics” instead of the Lakers.
Overall, it was an outstanding concert and proved that Ice Cube is, first and foremost, an emcee. There was even a point in his performance where he said point-blank that if an artist can’t perform their records over just their instrumentals, more time is needed honing skills. But Ice Cube doesn’t need that. He is a master at his craft, and it’s undeniable he inspired countless others based on how so many followed his lead.
To paraphrase one of those rappers that Cube no doubt influenced, The Game, “Ice Cube my favorite rapper, y’all can’t tell me nothin’.” Ditto. And I mean that sincerely.
Check out some footage of Ice Cube performing in the video below!