Gleaning the Ice Cube

I remember I was 14-years-old: the rap scene was exploding and one day over at my friend's house he was playing a tape. "What the hell is this?" I asked him. It was like the first time you heard the Beatles or punk or Nine Inch Nails. You didn't know what to make of it, but you just knew nothing would ever be the same again. He smiled. "100 Hundred Miles and Running by NWA." From that moment on, Ice Cube was a part of my life. That album changed rap, it changed attitudes, and Ice Cube branded himself, first selling himself as a rapper, character actor, then as an action/horror guy, and finally as a family comedian.

So, first up: let's go with the guy I like to remember, the very best of Ice Cube.

Boyz N The Hood

"The boyz in the hood are always hard, you come talkin' that trash we'll pull your card. Knowin' nothin' in life but to be legit, don't quote me boy I ain't said nothing whatsoever." Or the lyrics go something like that. If there was one movie that made a decisive mark about the plague of urban violence at the end of the 20th century, it was this film. The story of several young men living in a poor Los Angeles neighborhood, Cube is the thug playing against one of his friends who's trying to get out and make something of himself. It sounds cliché now, because it is. But this is the movie every other movie after it ripped off. And it's the very first film where we saw the man we know as Ice Cube emerge.

Friday

You know what day it is. The cult classic comedy that has since spawned two misguided sequels. Take everything about Boyz N the Hood, all the pathos, and all the social commentary: throw that right out the window and make it funny. From the era when you really didn't need much plot, just a bunch of crazy characters: what Clerks is to geeks and dorks, Friday to the drug culture. Ice Cube not only stars but has a writing credit.

Anaconda

Sliding further into the mainstream, Cube starred in this surprise hit that had all the trappings of being a terrible idea. Instead it became an instant campy classic and spawned a whole series of pissed-off nature movies in the late '90s. None of them captured the magic of this one, perfect midnight movie. And neither did its sequel.

Three Kings

Meet Ice Cube, the actor. Having finally shed the gang related street image that made him a star, Cube makes a turn in this great drama about four rogue gulf war vets at the end of the first Iraq conflict who discover stolen gold and try to pull off one of the biggest heists in history. Unfortunately for them, they meet up with refugees who need the help even more than they need the money.

Next: Gleaning the Ice Cube Part 2: The slushy side of Ice.

C. Robert Cargill - - - Email Me