After countless movie roles and seven albums, Ice Cube is finally back with his new LP “I Am The West”. It’s hard picturing Cube with a gun after movies like “Are We There Yet” or “Barbershop,” but he hardly disappoints when it come to dropping good music. Whether it is dissing other artist or bangin that thug life mentality, Oshea Jackson has been a leading figure in the West Coast rap scene since the 80’s. The question is, is he the “West”…or is he just an old timer who doesn’t know when to throw in the towel … lets dive in and find out, shall we?….
Production – 7.5
I’d have to say the production on the album kind of sucked. I know Dre didn’t work with Cube on this offering, and that I can’t expect the entire album to be vintage West Coast bangers, but the beats didn’t do it for me. I like many of them, but to me this was the low point on the album. I don’t think Cube sounds good on eccentric beats. I know that in order to have a well rounded album you need fun and up tempo beats, but to me Mr. Are We There Yet can’t pull it off anymore. Certain songs just don’t fit the vibe that I get from the legendary MC. It seems as if Cube was just trying to stay relevant too much and felt he needed a slightly different sound. Having said all that, there are a hand full of nostalgic tracks that make you nearly break your neck when vibin’ out to the infectious hard hitting drums. I would have like to see some production by Quik or more from JIGG. Again, although there are some tracks that contribute to the album and others that just feel out of place.
Lyrically, If you don’t fuck with Cube, you’re an idiot; his ability to stay relevant and still hand out a lyrical slaughter is just about second to none when speaking in terms of hip-hop today. There will never be some deep introspective type lines being said by Mr. Mean Mug, and he might not even blow you away with what he’s saying, but there’s something about a Cube joint that has you know there won’t be no bubble gum bullshit that your little brother could think of. He takes shots at Kanye, Wayne, the New West and most surprisingly Em & Dre. Simple shit like “Tiger gonna changes his name to Cheetah” or “Microphone fiend with a gelatin kill a teen.” Needless to say, if you’ve heard Cube’s previous albums you’d know what to expect, and when you’re not innovative and progressing it tends to hold you back; however, for Craig, it’s okay and it works for him.
Let’s see, take away the horrible features (come on what kind of name is OMG). The songs on the album are very well distributed in terms of topics and egotistical self busting. The lead single I Rep That West is one of the best songs on the album, and depends on how you look at it, that could be good or bad. There’s no doubt that classic hood tales find their place in I Am The West, as well as some party type joints like She Couldn’t Make It On Her Own and Ya’ll Know Who I Am. Like I mentioned previously, the latter just doesn’t feel like typical Cube joints to me, but it could just be me. I favored songs like Hood Robbin’, No Country For Young Men and my favorite track on the album, All Day, Every Day just a bit more than the others. There seems to be a bit of everything for everyone on the album, and that’s what makes it a solid offering.
Conclusion – 7.8
I was worried at first, when I thought what the album would sound like, especially when I’m a huge fan of the “New West” but Ice Cube does a great job of cementing his flag as one of the major players in the West Coast music scene . It’s a little bitter sweet because it makes you nostalgic for that 90’s era Gangsta Rap type shit that we all know and love from the West, but it’s nice to see that much has changed, and there is still some hard body shit that you can pick up and bump why rockin’ your throw back L.A. Kings hat. It’s still not a fact that Cube is the West, but does listening to his album make for a nostalgic state of mind? Does that really offer up the best representation of the West? You tell me….