Album review: 'Raw Footage,' by Ice Cube
Ice Cube first shot his trademark scowl out through America’s silver screen in John Singleton’s "Boyz N The Hood," playing street hustler Doughboy with all the bluster and persona he brought to NWA and his first solo records.
Then came "Friday," when he played a regular guy from the Los Angeles hood who had a gun but really wasn’t a gangster. Then came "Are We There Yet?" Ever since, it’s hard to hear a new Ice Cube record without thinking of the following exchange between 8-year-old Riley Freeman and a phony gangsta rapper on Cartoon Network’s “The Boondocks”:
GANGSTALICIOUS: You know who I wanted to be like when I was growin’ up? Ice Cube.
RILEY: …You mean the dude that makes family movies? That guy used to be a gangsta rapper?
GANGSTALICIOUS: He was SO gangsta… I used to dream Ice Cube came to my house and killed my whole family, and I wanted to be like him…
Your average teenager’s view of Ice Cube is not the man who wrote a song called “Once Upon a Time in the Projects,” and they definitely wouldn’t believe he put out albums called "Lethal Injection" and "AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted" back in the day.
So it’s good to see that Cube avoids a lot of gangster posturing on "Raw Footage." Oh, there’s plenty of bravado, but now it’s more about you can hate on him all you want; he’s just gonna keep on rich rollin’.
Too much of the album’s beats, however, consist of generic minor-key synths and heavy piano, with the exception of “Stand Tall,” a black empowerment song anchored by Willie Hutch’s “Diamond in the Back.”
Aside from that, there isn’t much substance, though. It’s mainly an hourlong ego trip. Classic Cube records mined the sounds of P-Funk and Roger & Zapp, and his work with Public Enemy and the Bomb Squad was a fascinating, frenetic look at disillusioned urban angst.
"Raw Footage" just kind of sounds like throwaway G-Unit beats and a grown man trying to recapture his former glory between movie shoots.