Ice Cube - Everythang's Corrupt (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Ice Cube

Everythang's Corrupt (2018)


The first song on Everythang’s Corrupt is called “Arrest the President” and finds Ice Cube directly calling for the arrest of Donald Trump. He sprints right into the second song “Chase Down the Bully” and starts taking shots at the alt-right. Damn, it sure is nice to have Cube fired up once again.

The first four records by the seminal emcee are among the greatest run in Hip Hop history, finding Ice Cube using street tales as microcosms of fundamental social/political/economic issues. But once the underdog street cat had international success with hugely successful movies (some of which he produced and/or owned) he changed his angle- not that this was the wrong move. A millionaire pretending to be a street hustler doesn’t really play well, so Cube began to present himself as the “don mega.” The issue was that the stance never really fit Mr. Jackson, who was so powerful during the early ‘90s because he was relatable, or if not that, then sympathetic and convincing. By contrast, a guy going around talking about how much money he has really only works in escapism and is much more difficult to give profound meaning.

But, now that some real whack jobs are running the government, Cube finds his original purpose as important as its ever been. Though, wisely, he tilts it in a slightly different direction. Amerikkkas Most Wanted founded Ice Cube arguing that the demonization of young black youth was the result of racial and economic prejudices as seen through the eyes of a black youth himself. Everythang’s Corrupt again finds Cube addressing these issues, but from the vantage point of a man that’s been through tough days and has risen despite it. That is, he’s still keenly aware of the deep problems affecting the country, but now addresses them on a global scale, instead of a street by street battle.

Yet, for every well-deserved Trump bash, Cube also speaks directly to the community from which he came. “Streets Shed Tears” is basically a Gospel tune where Ice Cube preaches loving one’s brothers and sister. Supported by a cinematic beat on “Fire Water,” he encourages achieving higher education in order to elevate oneself.

It certainly helps that these are some of Cube’s hardest and most energetic beats since the ‘90s. The more laid back sonic style of the early to mid ‘00s never really fit such a fiery performer, so when Ice Cube is given some real thwomp on the fantastic “Good Cop, Bad Cop,” he really uses the amped up power to kick out hard political lyrics. Perhaps in tribute to the dreamier tracks of The Predator and Lethal Injection, the album serves to positive sonics on a couple tracks, including the near psychedelic “Ain’t Got Not Haters” which features a brief, but welcome appearance from long time pal Too $hort. “That New Funkadelic” pays tribute to George Clinton’s late 70s and early 80s works. Cube’s done that before, but it’s certainly nice to pay tribute to those who are still around to appreciate it. Likewise, just as this album often urges self betterment and education, Ice Cube implicitly suggests learning about one’s own musical history as well.

On the album’s title track, Cube raps “I met Mr. Lee Harvey from the Tea Party/ He used to hate Obama… until he felt hurricane Charley/ looking for his fema check… it’s gone with the wind.” And that really sums up Ice Cube in 2018. He’s done well for himself, but recognizes that he’s one of the lucky few that was able to move beyond systematic injustices. By striking at these problems directly (Trump bashing) and at a academic vantage (“Good cop bad cop”) Ice Cube re-manifests the same Ire heard 90-94, which is the same anger that’s driving most of America right now. Plus, late 90s satisfied Ice Cube might be fun, but pissed off 2018 Ice Cube is what we need.