INTERVIEW: Ice Cube, gets real with The Hatchet

It all happened back in January 1989. I was a young, skinny white boy standing in the corner for an hour, head against the wall. Yes, I was crying. Why you ask? I yelled, “Fuck tha Police” a little too loud and mom wasn’t too happy. I tried to tell her N.W.A. made me do it. “It’s Ice Cube’s fault, not mine.” She wouldn’t listen.

Twelve years later I’m still blaming my behavior on musicians, but not Ice Cube. He’s moved on to bigger and better things. As Ice Cube said in a recent Hatchet interview, he’s outgrown the foul mouth and outraged antics of his youth.

“When you’re young, you’re whole thing is ‘let’s change the world.’ Then you realize the world doesn’t want to be changed,” Ice Cube said. “The world is gonna be what its gonna be. I’m not into repeating myself. If you want that aspect of me, those records are still available.”

Ice Cube may not be the idealistic young gangsta rapper he once was, but that does not mean he has not been busy telling tales of the streets. Since the early ’90s he has acted in a string of films including the cult classic Friday and the subsequent release Next Friday. In these films he seeks to create a distinct atmosphere.

“The Friday movies, if you think about it, have some hardcore shit going down,” Ice Cube said. “You’ve got drive-bys, drug deals, breaking and entering, but the movie doesn’t feel like that. That’s the magic of what we’re doing.”

Ice Cube has found that the best way to create this mix is to have control over all aspects of the films he writes. This realization caused him to create his own production company, Cubevision, a subsidiary of New Line Cinema.

“I could wait on Hollywood, or I could make my own way,” he said. “I decided to put my stuff together myself. I can work on my projects all the time.”

Ice Cube’s newest project, All About the Benjamins, follows in the footsteps of the Friday series by combing hilarity and ultra-violence in an urban atmosphere.

“I want to get a reaction. That’s what movies are for, to get the unexpected to happen,” he said.

But how real is too real? One criticism of Ice Cube’s newest film is that although the antics may be funny, the violence is prolonged and too graphic. Ice Cube said that those rules against violence in films are made to be broken.

“If I’m gonna be true to the comedy, I want to be true to the action, to the violence,” he said. “I want to do a movie that feels real.”

So how does he balance comedy and action?

“It’s an ancient Chinese secret,” Ice Cube said. “We’ve got some herbs and spices. We want you laughing one minute, squirming the next minute.”

Ice Cube may be comfortable being called violent, but he said other labels bother him. He fears audiences may miss out on his work because of mislabeling by New Line Cinema.

“Urban. That’s the label they’re putting on it,” he said. “My movies can sit for any audience. That’s just what people say to warn the audience that you might have more than one black person in this movie. Everything in the world is urban if you ask me. Concrete and steel.”

So even with his own production company, Ice Cube still answers to bigger fish. As he said, “It’s kind of like the mouse and the elephant. They’re gonna to do what they’re gonna do no matter how much you bitch. They know this movie has huge crossover potential, but they still labeled it ‘urban,’ what can you do? You just roll with it.”

Why label movies this way? Ice Cube has his own theory.

“It’s black action,” he said. “‘Don’t see it in the theater. Wait for it to come out on video.’ That’s basically what they’re saying.

But the situation has improved since his early days acting, he said.

“I do get more love now, because I’m making money. If I wasn’t, then they would not be returning my phone calls,” he said.

For now Ice Cube plans to keep doing what he’s doing: making the kinds of movies he likes. Movies with action and comedy but no romance or much loving.

“To me love movies are boring. I don’t watch them. I hate them,” Ice Cube said. “There weren’t any great asses in this movie. The Player’s Club had some great asses, if you’re looking for a good booty movie.”

Humor it is then, and twisted humor at that. As Ice Cube admitted, his tastes have always been a little off.

“People doing stupid shit and getting hurt – I dig that. It’s a little twisted,” Ice Cube said. “When you come from the neighborhoods that I come form, you have to find the comedy in messed up situations – people getting hurt or dying.”

Ice Cube may not have given up the crusades of his earlier career but he has put them on the back burner indefinitely.

“It haven’t changed . I’ve just realized. that you can’t shove your ideology down people’s throat in the form of entertainment,” he said. “I got a lot off my chest when I was younger. It’s still there for people to hear if they want it.”

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