The Hollywood-savvy Cube may be years removed from his ascent as a gangsta rap pioneer with N.W.A and as a soloist with albums like AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted, but he's still a menace on the mic, releasing his ninth solo album, I Am the West, last year. But when we asked about the chances of a new generation of L.A. rappers breaking through like he did in the late 1980s and early '90s as we gear up for MTV News' New West Week, Cube said he thought a lack of airplay was a potential obstacle — but one that is being overcome.
"I'm not really happy with radio out in L.A.," Ice Cube told MTV News recently. "I think they turned their back on the hip-hop scene out there. Not stations like KDAY, they still play the hits. But some stations that got a little more wattage, they're not bumping the hip-hop like they're supposed to.
"I think if you really focus too much on radio, you'll be lost as an artist anyway," he continued. "I think radio is very deceptive. It's kind of fool's gold 'cause you always chasing your last radio hit instead of just going and doing hip-hop like you supposed to, you worrying about spins, stuff like that. To me, radio has messed up a lot of artists."
While some of the MCs set to be featured during our New West Week — Nipsey Hussle, Pac Div, Odd Future — have turned to the Internet when radio and other traditional outlets weren't as welcoming, Cube called it a double-edged sword since file-sharing has affected the music business' bottom line. And although Cube admitted he isn't up on too many of the up-and-comers primed to re-establish L.A. as a hip-hop superpower (apart from his sons OMG and Doughboy), he's proud of the movement's variety.
"I think people just got caught in a trick bag. L.A. has always been full of all kind of different talent, different styles," Cube said. "It ain't just a whole city of gang-banging. The Black Eyed Peas is a great example of how creative that region is, so I'm happy that it ain't all just one flavor now. That a lot of different flavors are getting out there. Leave the gangsta sh-- to me and everybody else can do whatever they do."
The multitalented rapper has been cast in the upcoming "21 Jump Street" film adaptation. And although executive-producing his TBS sitcom "Are We There Yet?" keeps him busy, Cube currently has his sights set on bringing the N.W.A story to theaters.
"We're in the process of writing the script," Cube said. "Hopefully, everything will come out perfect. To me, it's an interesting story because the neighborhood we came from created N.W.A. And N.W.A also impacted the neighborhood we came from. It's an interesting movie that needs to be told."
Starting Monday, stick with us as MTV News turns the spotlight on the New West, the next wave of hip-hop acts helping to restore faith in the L.A. rap scene. From groups like Odd Future to rising MCs like Dom Kennedy, we'll bring you up close and personal to these artists as they carve their own lanes in the post-gangsta rap era. Keep it locked here for the next week for more on the West Coast up-and-comers!-