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Album review: Ice Cube's 'I Am the West'

ICE_CUBE_240At his most intense, Ice Cube penned ultra-violent and visceral vignettes about life in Southern California that reflected national concerns: racial tensions, gang warfare and internecine poverty.

But on his ninth album, the independently released “I Am the West,” he retreats to self-satisfied taunts about his legendary status, the enervated state of the Left Coast, and his rivals, both real and imaginary. As he puts it on “Too West Coast,” his “ego is as big as Heathrow.”

Lamentably, his trademark narratives are scarce. Only “Hood Robbin” finds Cube at his most poignant, weaving a highly contemporary tale of mortgage foreclosures and corporate chicanery. Too often, he lapses into banal boasts and gets repeatedly outshined by his contemporary, the perennially underrated W.C.

Despite early promises of beats from Dr. Dre and DJ Quik, Cube relies on largely anonymous producers, who lazily lean on ominous pianos and plodding drums. Of course, it’s impossible for one of the greatest rappers of all time not to occasionally connect. On “Life in California,” he makes gibes at Jay-Z and Alicia Keys’ “Empire State of Mind.” “No Country for Young Men” finds Cube bringing vintage political incorrectness, mocking Oprah, Tiger Woods, the Clippers and Kaiser Permanente.

Yet the coda of “Your Money or Your Life” provides the record’s most telling moment, when Cube recites a litany of conspicuously absent rappers he’s down with — including Dre, Snoop Dogg and almost every L.A. legend imaginable. Even the greatest can use a little help from their friends, and all too often this feels like how the West was one-dimensional.

— Jeff Weiss

Ice Cube
“I Am the West”
Lench Mob
Two and a half stars (Out of four) 


Comments () | Archives (7)

This is the worst review ever written, actually XXL writers take the throne for horrible reviews.

First, Ice Cube is a legend that constantly changes his album style but his lyrics and flow are always on POINT. You find me a better rapper that is more consistent than West Coast Icon and legend....

JayZ....negative...noticed i didnt even mention his name in the same sentence.

Oh yeah, at least you realized that WC that overlooked and overrated, this has been the case since his days of rapping with Coolio in the Maad Circle, but then again, Im sure you knew this already (ps that was over 18 years ago)

What? Who wrote this? This person doesn't like rap music; it stinks out loud.

This is a horrible review, Ice Cube is a creative lyrical mc who never changes his style and thats what separates him from all the artist out there. Cmon he's on his 9th album and keeps the same lyrical style who's never afraid to tell it how it is lets not forget what he started, are we talking about Rap or R&B. Although I would have to agree what was mentioned about the underrated WC.

I agree that the boasting does grow old and it's not like no one knows what Ice Cube has done for rap. Anyone who listens to rap knows, heck even most who don't listen to rap know. Still, I think this a good disc overall.

let’s talk about a decent review...One this is not one.

Let’s understand what it takes to make a career in rap, keep an image tight, have a great marriage; he is only one in the spotlight when he makes the lights shine in a positive way. "He never shot somebody, doesn’t get married in the media, he doesn’t show off, (LIKE THE EAST COAST). This is a man that has seen poverty at its worst, worked hard all is life and has become a success and mentor to all rappers big or small, dead or alive. So this review does not have a leg to stand on, and I bet everybody talking bad about OUR BOY CUBE, ask them what movie they have in their blue ray player, and I BET IT IS "FRIDAY or BOYS IN THE HOOD". He is the voice of all of us coming up in life, so before you write a review of our boy CUBE, I hope your career is as good as his, if not you don’t have a leg to stand on either...Raul

I'm as big a Cube fan as they come. But let's face facts: Cube hasn't done anything consistently good since the first West Side Connection album. And his best work happened on his second full-length solo, Death Certificate. You know what I do when I start playing anything new by Cube? I turn it off halfway and put in Amerikkka's Most Wanted instead. There's something to be said when a guy's greatest lyrical output happened when he was in his teens and twenties.

Anyway...this reviewer didn't challenge Cube's legendary status. He gave an opinion on the new stuff. And his new-stuff track record hasn't been that great. Real talk, as the kids say.

Im a big fan of cubes but im going to have to agree. This album is luke warm and Cubes heart hasnt been in it since Death Certificate. Every album after that youll find a song here and there which could make 1 more good album. But im going to agree with the other blogger saying he hasnt done n e thing decent since Westside connect BOW DOWN...Thats real. If you have to stick with the formula. Bombsquad, sirjinx, Dre and Quik to make something happen. West Up


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