NEW YORK — Almost 20 years after N.W.A pushed their first musical offerings independently, one of their founding fathers has decided to put major labels in the rearview and go back to his roots.
"What is a record company going to do for me that I can't do for myself? Nothing," Ice Cube said Wednesday night in a New York studio as he treated MTV to some selections off his upcoming LP, Laugh Now Cry Later. "It's nothing they can offer me to have a major percent of my record. It's really all about ownership at this time. This is not a new page in the game. This an old page. People are caught up in double, triple platinum. That's lovely, but what's double platinum if you not getting double-platinum money? It's all about what you take home to your family at the end of the day if you gonna make this game a profession."
Not only does Cube feel he's going to benefit financially from going back to being an independent artist, he also says it has granted him artistic freedom. The pioneering MC has recorded more than 30 tracks so far even though he doesn't plan on putting out the album until June 6.
"At some point an artist needs to put his money where his mouth is," he said. "Stop looking for the next advance. A record company's schedule sometimes don't coincide with what you need to do as an artist. By me not being on no schedules or deadlines, I made a better record because of that."
A few years ago, Cube told MTV News that he would be signing to Dr. Dre's Aftermath label and putting out music with the Doc (see "Dr. Dre To Produce Next Ice Cube Record"). That album never surfaced (see "Ice Cube Puts Off Recording With Dre To Focus On Harassing Kids").
"All that was happening before 50 blew up," Cube explained. "That whole situation, you gotta follow the money in this game. Dre's attention went in [the direction of] the artist that's right now. You can't do nothing but say that was a good business move. I probably would have done the same thing. But for me, I can't wait for nobody, I been in the game too long to wait. It was time to do the record and put it out. I did a whole lot of records without Dre on them. I would love to have him participate, but for the most part, I don't need to wait on nobody right about now."
Some high-profile producers have been making themselves available to Cube such as Lil Jon, Swizz Beatz and Scott Storch. Snoop Dogg appears on two records, Juvenile has one cameo and Cube is also in talks to have a guest spot from the Diplomats' Juelz Santana.
Laugh Now Cry Later finds Cube returning to his role as social commentator on "Guns and Drugs." And with "Child Support," he once again reiterates that he helped start the gangsta-rap thing and that there have been many imitators over the years. "Ain't no other kings in this rap thing/ They siblings, nothing but my children/ One shot, they disappearing."
"It's a metaphor," he said. "Only a few rappers dead or alive can do that record. I feel I put in enough time in the game. I was one of the architects of this style, gangsta rap. It was time to get it off my chest and say what I think."
Cube said the album title is "really the state of everything, it seems like, from all of America to urban America to hip-hop. Everybody is doing a lot of laughing and playing and having fun, but someday you gotta pay. That's really what the album is saying."
Cube says he will not be working on any more films until after his album is released.