Ice Cube Talks Hip Hop, Detroit and Things That Will Never Change

The rapper brings the 'Kings of the Mic' tour with featured artists LL Cool J, Public Enemy and De La Soul to the DTE Energy Music Theatre on June 26, 2013

ip-hop artist Ice Cube is no longer just a rapper "straight outta Compton." Now, a writer, actor, producer and director, Cube is involved in everything from gangsta rap to PG films. But for Cube, his definition of hip hop remains set-in ice, so to speak-and is the presence a lyricist can create with two turntables and a microphone.

With the release of his politically charged "Everythang's Corrupt," Cube is ready to reaffirm his place as rap royalty with LL Cool J, Public Enemy and De La Soul on the "Kings of the Mic" tour. Before he takes to his throne on June 26 at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, BLAC Detroit shared a few lyrics with the rapper. 

Welcome back to Detroit. What is your fondest memory of the city?

My vivid memory of Detroit is the undercover Detroit Police rushing our stage in 1989. We did "Fuck tha Police" at the Joe Louis Arena. So you know, that is always the most vivid memory of Detroit. 

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I got cool with a guy name Rodney L. in Detroit and he is on tour with us. My man Trick-Trick always takes care of us.

Since the days of N.W.A., how has your definition of what it means to be a hip-hop artist changed?

Um. Not a lot. I think it is the industry that changed. When I first started, we were selling Cassingles. You remember Cassingles? So, commanding control of the mic, some guys make different adjustments. It has pretty much been two turntables and a microphone for me. And that is the essence of being a hip-hop artist for me-just two turntables and a microphone.

Many of your former collaborators are really branching out genres and even changing personas, such as Snoop Dogg.

You know, I am a Snoop Dogg fan so it is probably gonna take me a minute to get into Snoop Lion. Just the way I feel. I applaud artists that are trying to go outside the box. When you go outside the box, sometimes you hit, sometimes you miss, you know I have done it myself.

With your most recent single "Everythang's Corrupt," it seems like you are getting back to your politically charged roots.

It is with that song. The record is pretty much just one of those 'take your temperature' kinda records. It is a record that is a sign of the times, but I wouldn't call it political. It is a fine line nowadays with the audience's attention span on how political they want to go. And as an artist, you don't want to force feed people. Everybody's gotta ride the wave. Once that wave hits the beach, you gotta catch a another wave. It might be a different approach. I think if you can make those adjustments you have longevity, because I don't want to be an artist-that is just on my own tip.

What kind of atmosphere can we expect at your performance on June 26?

It is pretty big. I don't think I have ever come to Detroit with this big of a production.

You will be coming just after the 50th anniversary of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Freedom Walk so we will all be a little rallied up and ready to get political.

Yea. I mean, my show is pretty much on the lets have a good time tip. I sprinkle in political records at this show-everyone is just trying to get off. You gotta make sure the hits are upfront. It is a slightly different atmosphere because you have four well-respected artists with you.

What has it been like working with the original rap greats such as LL Cool J, Public Enemy and De La Soul?

You know I've been on tour with all of these artists. Me and Public Enemy are like brothers. When I see them, it is just kinda like old times. De La-it is nothing but respect. LL was the young phenomenon that everybody was a fan of.

Any advice for the young hip-hop artists trying to make it in Detroit?

You gotta believe in yourself, of course. But I think the key is you have to get hot in your own city. If you can't pull that off, you got work to do.

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