It doesn't matter how long you have been listening to any form of rap music and it doesn't matter what kind of rap music that you liked at the time, when NWA dropped "Straight Outta Compton", everybody was paying attention. To be honest with you the only rappers that I even knew that were rappers in the west coast were Too Short and Ice T. I was watching the Video Jukebox, (that's right I am showing my age) and I saw Jheri Curls, LA Raiders and LA Kings hats and a crew of folks wearing all black and saying "I'm coming "Straight Outta Compton". I had no idea that Compton was a city in California until I saw that video. Shortly after seeing that video I went seeking out the cassette and it was entitled "Straight Outta Compton". After wearing the cassette out for awhile at home while my mom wasn't home and in my headphones because my mom wouldn't have wanted to hear anything like that coming out of my stereo, the NWA member that caught my attention the most was definitely O'Shea Jackson, better known as Ice Cube. His performances on the title cut, .... Tha Police, "Dopeman", and "I Ain't Tha 1" were definitely memorable. However, "Gangsta, Gangsta" was the song that made sure no matter what Ice Cube did after NWA I would be a fan of his for awhile.
After a while I wondered when NWA was going to release another cassette, then I started hearing rumors about the fact that Ice Cube felt like he was being underpaid for his rapping and writing credits for what he did on "Straight Outta Compton". I was at school one particular day and one of my boys overheard me talking about what I was saying about Ice Cube and the NWA situation. He told me that he had an Ice Cube solo tape and I didn't believe him for one second. After school he dropped what I would find out would be "Amerikkka's Most Wanted" at my house and I was literally floored when I heard "The N.... Ya Love To Hate". The 1st time I heard that song I told myself that Ice Cube could make songs until he is blue in the face but he would never make a song as tight as that and in 2006 I am right. If ANYONE had any doubts that Ice Cube couldn't be a solo artist, this track was a lesson for people to pay attention to and learn. The title track is just about as good as "The N.... Ya Love To Hate" as Ice Cube made comments about how if he was killin' African Americans, no one would be worried about the crimes that he was committing. My other favorite tracks on "Amerikkka's Most Wanted" included "You Can't Fade Me", "Endangered Species" w/Chuck D, "Once Upon A Time In The Projects", "What They Hittin'Foe?" and the only video from this disc, "Who's The Mack". After his solo debut, Ice Cube dropped a teaser EP entitled "Kill At Will" which featured one of his best singles to date, "Jackin' For Beats". Ice Cube took the popular beats at the time like Digital Underground's "Humpty Dance", Public Enemy's "Welcome To The Terrordome", X- Clan's "Heed The Word Of The Brother (RIP Professor X), D Nice's "Call Me D-Nice" and other tracks and created a memorable single. The EP also had tight tracks like "Dead Homiez" and "The Product" as well. Ice Cube's next full release would be "Death Certificate". If you liked Ice Cube for his west coast sounds then this may be your favorite Ice Cube CD. The Bomb Squad, who were known with working with Public Enemy, produced the majority of "Amerikkka's Most Wanted" so the CD had an east coast flavor to it. On "Death Certificate" Ice Cube had a west coast sound to go with his lyrics. My favorite tracks ended up being "My Summer Vacation", "The Wrong N.... To .... Wit", "Steady Mobbin'", "A Bird In The Hand", the memorable posse cut "Color Blind" and the classic NWA diss track entitled "No Vaseline". Ice Cube's next disc was entitled "The Predator". "Wicked" took a little while to grow on me, but once the disc was released and I heard tracks like "When Will They Shoot", "Check Yo Self" w/ DAS EFX, and the classic "It Was A Good Day", then "Wicked" was a little easier to swallow. "Lethal Injection" followed the "Predator" and Ice Cube had tight tracks like "You Know How We Do It", "Make It Ruff, Make It Smooth" w/K Dee, "Down For Whatever" and "When I Get To Heaven". Ice Cube seemed alot calmer from his earlier CDs as it seemed as if he was taking a step back from his usual political views and puttin' famous folks out there like he did on his earlier releases. I'll be the 1st one to admit that once Ice Cube made "We Be Clubbin" and his alter ego, "Don Mega" was born, I didn't really like Ice Cube as much as I did before. I understand that he was making movies and he was in "Hollywood" but as a fan I always wanted the NWA Ice Cube. Now since "Lethal Injection", Ice Cube made CDs with The Westside Connection, which was composed of Ice Cube, Mack 10 and WC of WC & The Maad Circle. He also released a "Bootlegs & B-Sides" CD, as well as a "....Featuring Ice Cube CD which included his famous duets with other artists. He also dropped a War & Peace 2 disc set, which were released separately, but other than "Hello" which reunited Ice Cube with MC Ren & Dr. Dre, I didn't hear anything from those discs, because of "Mr. Don Mega". Ice Cube also had a nice duet with Dr. Dre entitled "Natural Born Killaz" that was on the "Murder Was The Case" soundtrack and "Chin Check" which was on the "Next Friday soundtrack" with Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre & MC Ren.
On Lil Jon & The Eastside Boyz' last CD entitled "Crunk Juice" Ice Cube was surprisingly featured on two tracks: One entitled "Roll Call" and an unexpected posse cut entitled "Grand Finale". Now don't get this "Grand Finale" confused with the track of the same name that was on D.O.C.'s "No One Can Do It Better" CD. This track featured an odd combination of Bun B of UGK, Jadakiss, TI, Nas & Ice Cube. Ice Cube may have had the best verse on the track and the track ended up working after all. My old roomate made a CD of downloads for me and one of the tracks on the CD was called "Child Support" from Ice Cube. When I heard the track that is what finally made me want to start buying Ice Cube CDs again. "Child Support" was basically a lesson to up and coming West Coast artists reminding them that Ice Cube basically is the Godfather of West Coast gangsta rap.
"Laugh Now, Cry Later" is the best whole CD of music that I have heard from Ice Cube since "Lethal Injection". He has even started talking about the political issues and topics that made him popular on his earlier CDs like our President of The United States, Flavor Flav and others. The 1st single is "Why We Thugs" which is produced by Scott Storch. The beat is off the hook and Ice Cube is able to explain to the people that don't understand why we are the way we are in certain aspects of life. Emile drops a beat that is just as nice on "Doin' What It 'Pose To Do". Ice Cube brings back the memorable West Coast gangsta sound that we are use to hearing from him. Now his lyrics aren't as top notch as they use to be because of "Mr. Don Mega" but he has definitely went back to his old days and his lyrics are alot better on this CD. Swizz Beatz drops by on "Stop Snitchin'". I didn't know that snitching could be talked about over a party beat but somehow, someway Ice Cube and Swizz Beatz make things work on this track. Lil Jon returns the favors that Ice Cube gave him on "Crunk Juice" and he produces the 2nd single, "Go To Church" featuring Snoop Dogg. If you are not into the Down South music scene you may not like this track but if you enjoyed Ice Cube on "Roll Call" like I did then you will like "Go To Church" just as much. Lil Jon also produces Ice Cube's track for the ladies, which aslo features Snoop Dogg, entitled "You Gotta Lotta That". It won't be too hard to figure out what "That" is as you listen to the song. One track that surprised me on this CD was "Growin' Up". Laylaw & D-Maq sample Minnie Riperton's "Memory Lane" to perfection as Ice Cube talks about how he got into the rap game and how things with NWA really went down. He even talks about giving Lil Eazy E advice when and if he needs it. Scott Storch shows up again on the party track "Steal The Show". Ice Cube takes advantage of the nice Scott Storch track and you can tolerate these kind of Ice Cube party tracks because they aren't like "You Can Do It" which was on the "Next Friday" soundtrack. Other tracks worth checking out are the impressive title track, "The N.... Trapp", "Click Clack-Get Back!", and "Chrome & Paint" w/WC.
You can listen to the majority of "Laugh Now, Cry Later" but there are some skippable tracks like "Smoke Some ....", which does have a nice beat, the forgettable "The Game Lord" and I am not sure what Ice Cube and Lil Jon were thinking with "Holla At Ya Boy". However, there are very few missteps on this CD.
Overall, I think that Ice Cube has made his best CD since "Lethal Injection". He has made a step back to his West Coast gangsta rap days and he has stepped his lyrics up again, which he hadn't done too often since "We Be Clubbin" and the creation of "Don Mega". If you are a fan of Ice Cube from his NWA days and you enjoyed his earlier solo releases like "Amerikkka'z Most Wanted" and "Death Certificate" then you will like "Laugh Now, Cry Later. Just imagine a young Ice Cube with alot of "Hollywood" in his lyrics. This is what you will get lyrically from Ice Cube on this CD.
P.S. I still want a NWA reunion CD...lol
James' Top 5
1) Child Support
2) Why We Thugs
3) Go To Church w/Snoop Dogg & Lil Jon
4) Growin' Up
5) Doin' What It 'Pose To Do