The Score: Ice Cube, "I Am The West"

Tuesday, Sep 28, 2010 12:00AM

Written by Cyrus Langhorne

Buy Now
  • I Am The West
  • Ice Cube
  • September 28, 2010
Hip-Hop DX 2.5/5
Slant Magazine 2.5/5
Jet Set Junction 2/5
Planet III 4/5
Def Sounds 7/10
Yo! Raps 3/5

Hip-Hop vanguard Ice Cube is back to reclaim his spot as one of the West Coast's most revered rhyme spitters with his ninth solo album, I Am The West.

The LP breaks Cube's two-year silence since dropping Raw Footage in 2008 and serves to  remind younger generations of his credentials.

In the time since announcing his ninth studio album earlier this year, Cube ran into backlash from younger West Coast rappers who felt slammed by his comments that rap music from the region had been hindered by an industry only interested in mainstream appeal. To some, Cube only stirred the pot causing a greater rift between himself and a younger generation. The cocky album title 'I Am the West' also didn't help the situation. Yet, as an officiator who brought West Coast music to the mainstream with N.W.A. in the '90s and then later successfully as a solo artist, the title is well deserved. (The Boom Box)

Despite having a long-standing history of collaborating with legends like Dr. Dre and more recent stars such as The Game, Cube's LP contains limited guest appearances.

Part of the issue is that Cube, admirably, lets others have the spotlight on his record at times to mixed effect. OMG and Doughboy, his two sons, take turns on "You Know Who I Am". WC and Maylay are also on the track and stick around for "Too West Coast". Cube's sons are dismissed in a move that almost suggests that it's time for the adults to get serious, as "Too West Coast" rails against the dismissal of the West Coast sound and attitude by the mainstream. Were it more focused and free of some of the guest stars, I Am The West could have been THE comeback for Ice Cube. Even though there is quite a bit of the worn-out, eye-rolling same-as-it-ever-was that pollutes Hip-Hop today, Cube shows he's able to rise above that and deliver some of the best songs in the genre to this day. If only he could commit to something like that over an entire record, he'd be back to being unstoppable in music. (Blog Critics)

Initially slated to feature production from Dr. Dre, Cube recruited lesser known hitmakers like Sir Jinx and The Fliptones in place of his former N.W.A. groupmate.

1. Soul On Ice [Prod. by Tha Bizness] 2. Life In California (feat. Jayo Felony & WC) [Prod. by Sir Jinx] 3. She Couldn't Make It On Her Own (feat. OMG & Doughboy) [Prod. by Bangladesh] 4. Urbanian [Prod. by Track Bully] 5. Y'all Know How I Am (feat. OMG, Doughboy, WC & Maylay) [Prod. by Willy Will] 6. Too West Coast (feat. WC & Maylay) [Prod. by Hallway Productions] 7. I Rep That West [Prod. by Jigg] 8. Drink The Kool-Aid [Prod. by Brandon Alexander] 9. No Country For Young Men [Prod. by Doughboy & Rocko] 10. It Is What It Is [Prod. by DJ Montay] 11. Hood Robbin' [Prod. by T. Mix] 12. Your Money Or Your Life [Prod. by T. Mix] 13. Nothing Like L.A. [Prod. by The Fliptones] 14. All Day, Every Day [Prod. by Hallway Productions] 15. Fat Cat [Prod. by Jigg] (Misfor Music)

Cube's "Soul On Ice" producers Tha Bizness recently talked with SOHH about working on the album's lead single.

"With him, it felt like it was more of a pride thing because if you look around the country, it's been a while since there's been a West Coast artist, especially a Southern California artist, [getting] some runs. And if you look at some of the newer artists, they're looking for ways to get into the game and doing music that's not necessarily "West Coast" music. What I think Cube is trying to do is show that 'I'm comfortable just sticking in the lane that I'm in. I've been doing this a long time and instead of going out and trying to do all these new songs the young kids are trying to make, I can do me and you're gonna love it'. Because if you look at it, half of the album has his kids on it, there's not a lot of rap features on there." (SOHH Guest Star)

While Cube's legacy goes unquestioned, the rapper's comeback LP left some reviewers confused by its ability to concisely convey its theme.

When Cube's performance is allowed to take center stage, I Am the West becomes an engaging hip-hop record. For too long, though, he staggers through iffy refrains and some dolefully crude beats. If "Too West" and "No Country for Young Men" rank among his finest battle cries in recent memory, clangers like "Fat Cat" and "Urbanian" are tracks that fans will surely want to forget. I Am the West could have really used an experienced producer like Dr. Dre to keep Ice Cube on his toes, but with thinly veiled jabs like "I ain't the doctor, this ain't the patient/This ain't that nigga always on vacation/This ain't no white boy's rehabilitation," it doesn't seem too likely that we'll see an amorous reunion between the two west coast pioneers anytime soon. (Slant Magazine)
The album starts with "A Boy Was Conceived", an epic movie preview type voice narrating is interrupted by surprise guest "Mike Epps". It was a cool gesture but doesn't set the "mood" for the revolutionary renegade rap we're expecting to hear. "Soul on Ice" produced by low key hit makers "Tha Bizness" ( Young Money's Every Girl). The West Coast has a sound that tends to be laid back and chill but aggressive at the same time. Which doesn't really have a "mood" and that affects the listeners reception of the song. "Soul On Ice" doesn't really have a purpose and neither does Mike Epps commentary about Ice Cube's music inspiring guys in the 80?s to get locked up selling dope. This album leaves you feeling "hustled" like just because he's Ice Cube you should buy it and listen to his un-groomed sons. (Jet Set Junction)

I Am The West's Score: HipHopDX: 2.5/5 Slant Magazine: 2.5/5 Jet Set Junction: 2/5 Planet Ill: 4/5 Def Sounds: 7/10 Yo! Raps Magazine: 3/5

To purchase the new Ice Cube album, just click here.

Check out some music from I Am The West below:

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