SAN FRANCISCO In his first local performance in four years, rapper Ice Cube rocked the Warfield Theatre on Friday in a high-energy performance of new hits and classics that had fans dancing in the aisles.
Dressed in white, Ice Cube (born O'Shea Jackson) took the stage and the microphone in a fury, opening with "Natural Born Killaz," from the 1994 "Murder Was the Case" soundtrack. A huge, Mount Rushmorelike statue of the rapper complete with Ice Cube's trademark brimmed hat and, at the bottom, the etched words "Ice Cube the Great" stood in the background as he rattled off a series of his hits, including "The Nigga You Love to Hate" and "Steady Mobbin.' "
After opening with some old-school classics, Ice Cube was joined by fellow South Central Los Angeles rappers Mack 10 and WC.
Throughout the concert, which was sponsored by local radio station KMEL-FM, Ice Cube had a dialogue with the crowd. He yelled, "Is the west side in the house?" as almost every fan in the theatre threw up the "W" hand gesture, the West Coast sign made famous by late rapper Tupac Shakur.
At the show's midpoint, Ice Cube, WC and Mack 10 performed the title track from Bow Down, the 1996 album from their all-star group, Westside Connection. The music's tempo and the crowd's energy began to pick up. WC, dressed in black, including a black beanie, then performed "Cheddar," from his 1998 album, The Shadiest One, with help from Ice Cube and Mack 10.
As WC finished, Ice Cube noted, "He had been wanting to rock the Bay Area for a long time." Mack 10, in black shirt and pants and a diamond watch, replied, "I have been wanting to rock the Bay for life," which kick-started the music to "Foe Life," from Mack 10's self-titled debut album.
Ice Cube Sticks To Theme
After "Foe Life," Ice Cube said he wanted to keep the theme of the concert "gangsta." The trio went into their hit single "Gangsta Make the World Go Round," from Bow Down, and Ice Cube slapped hands with crowd members. The audience's energy could be felt along with the bumping bass.
"This concert is explosive," said Jason Murray, 28, of San Francisco. "Ice Cube's energy could be seen the whole night, and this crowd is connecting with him."
After "Gangstas Make the World Go Round," Ice Cube took to the mic to tell the crowd, "I was only supposed to perform a few songs," but he went on to say he was "feeling good." One of the fans from the crowd yelled, "I grew up listening to you," and Ice Cube responded, "Damn, I am only 30." He then performed "Supreme Hustle," from War & Peace Vol. 2 (The Peace Disc), which was released March 21.
Ice Cube prefaced the following song, "Until We Rich" (RealAudio excerpt), also from the new disc, with, "I am about to perform this next song that reminds me of a good day." Because Bone Thugs-N-Harmony's Krazie Bone wasn't there to sing the hook from the cut, Ice Cube improvised and sang it himself. When "Until We Rich" ended, he introduced E-40, from the Click, and the well-known Too Short producer Ant Banks to the stage as the crowd cheered.
After these introductions, Ice Cube who wrote and stars in the current hit film "Next Friday" pronounced the concert over and walked toward the back of the stage as the lights dimmed. But as soon as he did this, there was a thud, and the music to "We Be Clubbin" thumped through the speakers as Ice Cube tore into the mic.
Fans Go Away Pleased
Ice Cube capped the night by performing his current single, "You Can Do It," with the assistance of Mack 10 and Ms. Toi. Ms. Toi wore a brown cowboy hat, cowboy boots and skin-tight blue jeans as she sang the hook, "You can do it, put your back into it," and yelled, "Where my sistas at?" as Ice Cube and Mack 10 rapped the lyrics to the cut.
The performance lasted for close to an hour and a half, and it could have gone longer, based on the slew of hits Ice Cube has recorded in his 13-year career. "This concert was spectacular," said Jai Gordon, 31, of San Francisco.
"Ice Cube threw down," said Jennifer Foote, 31, of Berkeley, who said she sees Ice Cube every time he comes to the Bay Area. "I have been listening to him since the 1980s, and this was the best yet."