Don’t try to clown on Ice Cube. He’ll beat you to the punchline.
“A lot of y’all thinking, ‘That’s Ice Cube up there!'” the rapper born O’Shea Jackson said from American Express Stage during his Saturday night set at ACL. “That motherf***** do movies. Ain’t that Ice Cube that do them crazy-ass Coors Light commercials and s***?”
That was, in fact, the same Ice Cube of “Friday” and “Are We There Yet?” infamy. But lest the rabid throng forget the red-blooded MC’s original day job, he raced through a flurry of classics from his solo career and N.W.A tenure with jaw-dropping precision. Atop a collection of instantly recognizable, pulverizing beats, the rapper spat bars that were wickedly funny, aggressively masculine and unfailingly profane.
“For all the people in here who didn’t think Ice Cube could get onstage and still rock the mic, I got one thing to say to yo’ ass,” Cube smugly told the audience. “You better check yo’ self before you wreck yo’ self!”
There was, of course, a palpable irony to watching the 48-year-old gazillionaire MC deliver the vitriolic one-two punch of N.W.A’s “Straight Outta Compton” and “Gangsta Gangsta” before a crowd of mostly white, twenty-something college students—not to mention the father who swayed to the anti-authoritarian tirades with his toddler perched upon his shoulders. But Cube’s been in this business long enough to sell his past as present, even if his only connection to his gang-banging days now is 2015’s blockbuster biopic, “Straight Outta Compton.” Besides, this crowd was in no mood to fact-check; they simply wanted to rage.
The rapper gave them plenty of opportunities to do that, from the furious N.W.A diss track “No Vaseline” to the shockingly anti-PC boasts of “Gangsta Rap Made Me Do It.” Like all seasoned performers, Cube divided the crowd and forced them to out-scream each other. Unlike most of these performers, he threw several crisp hundred dollar bills onto the stage and bet against his hype man WC (pronounced “Dub-C”) to see whose side would prevail.
Thankfully for Dub, the consensus seemed to be a draw.
“Y’all can’t do too much sinning tonight,” Cube joked to the audience before shutting his set down with the woozy feel-good funk of “It Was a Good Day.” “I’m gonna see y’all at church in the morning.”
Little did he know, they were already there.