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Ice Cube

In The Movies
Priority Records/EMI
www.icecube.com


Ice Cube's latest CD In The Movies features the gangsta rapper's biggest singles from the movies where they were placed. I was wondering why the music sounded like old-school rap/hip-hop from the early '90s, especially since his CD War & Peace in 2000 refreshed his sound with more emotive pop/rock accents. The songs on In The Movies sound dated, coming from such '90s movies as Next Friday, Player's Club, and Boyz 'N The Hood. The gangsta rap culture has made impressive strides since the hardcore pounding and urban-techno phrasing of the '90s by incorporating more classic piano, ambient-pop, and orchestral tones like in the music of Antonio Delgado.

In The Movies is a retrospective of Ice Cube's most popular singles like the disco-tinged "How To Survive In South Central" from Boyz 'N The Hood, the hard hitting robotic hammering of "Natural Born Killaz" with special guest Dr. Dre on background vocals for the movie Murder Was The Case, and the catchy parody "You Know I'm A Ho" from Player's Club. Ice Cube's music shows a visceral understanding of the trends in rap/hip-hop culture with lyrical content that expresses redundant profanities and controversial commentaries on social conditions that were written to shock people and stir up emotions.

The movement in which Ice Cube was involved through the '90s started a revolution that has accomplished its task - for rap/urban/hip-hop to become a viable global music force. Ice Cube began his career in rapping in the bad-boy group N.W.A. and gradually became a solo artist and parlayed that into acting, which people may remember from the George Clooney drama Three Kings or the comedy series Are We Done Yet? and Are We There Yet? Rap artists like Will Smith, LL Cool J, Queen Latifah, Bow Wow, and Ice-T show that in the soul of every rap artist [there] is an actor eager to come out. There seems to be a direct connection between rapping and acting that is not as strong in any other field of music. It's like the music of rap artists is more than just about the music, but reflects their personality. This would explain why so many rap artists often don't go by their birth name but create a persona like Ice Cube has done - he was born O'Shea Jackson in South Central Los Angeles to parents who taught at UCLA.

Looking over Ice Cube's catalog of songs from In The Movies, so much of his music goes into overkill with anger and lust that it feels redundant and stuck in a rut. It's a perfect album for fans of Ice Cube's music or fans of old-school gangsta rap, but as for appealing to different audiences, it does not have the goods. The rap/hip-hop culture has moved ahead from what was produced in the '90s. The album is like going back in time, which is great for a visit but you probably don't want to stay there.

-Susan Frances


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