Thursday, April 21, 2005

Ice Cube

Ice Cube- AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted
Ice Cube- The Predator

Who are the Sex Pistols of hip-hop? Who’s the Clash? Who’s the Knack? Do we have enough after-the-fact distance logged to even begin to determine this stuff yet? What happens to Public Enemy and their relative status in the punk/hip-hop pantheon in the wake of the reality show that has Flav paired up with a completely busted ex-model/actress?

I thought a lot of this stuff was going to sit one the back burner until I got to the letter ‘N’- whenever I think of N.W.A., I think about the relative punkness of the act, about how hip hop was instantly (and, in many cases, totally) embraced by the punker community because of the sentiments (let’s face it here- ‘Fuck Tha Police’ could have just as easily been by one of those first wave Gilman bands)and energy involved.

See, here’s the problem- listening to the Ice Cube records, which sound urgent and vital even still, makes me think that N.W.A. were the hip-hop Sex Pistols because Ice Cube’s solo stuff reminds me of the first few Public Image albums, Lydon dropping his past and becoming his own man. All the shit talk that the respective members of N.W.A. did after the breakup kinda reinforces the compare/contrast for me- everyone thought that ‘Albatross’ was about McLaren, f’r example, and that the first, eponymous PiL single was about casting off the weight of the past. The thing about my analogy, of course, is that I’m approaching it from a standpoint that is at least a little speculative, gleaning info from sources that I read in the past few years which has probably gestated/mutated in my mind, changing form completely and conveniently.

Whatever, though. It’s so easy for hip hop to sound dated, because of language used and references dropped, to say nothing of production. I think both of these still hold up- ‘AmeriKKKa’ continues to be the shocking, abrasive gem of inner city life that it was when it was first released, before everyone imitated it. ‘Predator’ changes directions a little bit, sounding a little bit more reggae-ish but not losing an ounce of passion in the transition.


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