ACL Review: Ice Cube

N.W.A rapper hasn’t been subsumed into actor

“Y’all ready to rock with your homeboy Ice Cube? A-yay-yay!” If there was any doubt that the 48-year-old gangsta rap legend meant business, it ended with the first notes of “Natural Born Killaz,” opening Saturday’s dinnertime set with one of the most sinister tracks from his 30-year career, one referencing both Charles Manson and Jeffrey Dahmer.

The massive crowd ate it up – no pun intended.

Photo by Gary Miller

Dressed in all-black-everything and flanked by Westside Connection co-conspirator WC, the man born O’Shea Jackson looked to be having the time of his life reminding everyone he was once AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted. He crip-walked through N.W.A missives “Straight Outta Compton” and “Gangsta, Gangsta” before savaging his former mates on “No Vaseline.”

“I was part of N.W.A, but shit got funny, so I had to leave,” Cube testified. “They tried to punk me, so I had to go and drop the greatest dis track of all time.”

A long-established actor and now CEO of a burgeoning 3-on-3 basketball league, “rapper” no longer tops Ice Cube’s résumé, but don’t get it twisted, he warned.

“For all the people that didn’t think Ice Cube could get onstage and still rock the mic, I got one thing to say to yo’ ass: You better check yo’ self before you wreck yo’ self!”

That perfect segue into his 1992 hit from The Predator was illustrative of masterful stage banter throughout. He even gave a fresh twist on the tired hip-hop trope of “which side is the livest side,” Cube and “Dub-C” each tossing a couple crisp $100 bills on the floor, betting that their half of the crowd could get louder.

The audience responded on early-Nineties classics (“Bop Gun,” “You Know How We Do It”) and later party bangers (“You Can Do It,” “We Be Clubbin’”) alike. By the time the “Spurs beat the Supersonics” on the nostalgia-dripping G-funk closer, the crowd was all smiles and indo smoke.

“Today I didn’t even have to use my AK.
I gotta say, it was a good day.”

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Ice Cube, ACL Fest 2017, O’Shea Jackson, N.W.A.

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