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[Off The Record]
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Ice Cube
GREATEST HITS VOLUME I
(PRIORITY)

As the title says, this stopgap release collects Ice Cube’s greatest hits, not his greatest songs. Fresh off an acrimonious split with seminal Los Angeles gangsta-rap quintet N.W.A, the fiery Cube re-emerged in the early ’90s stronger than ever with three classic albums — AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted, Death Certificate, and The Predator — that fused rough, hydraulic funk with bleak ghetto manifestos. His strongest work from this period read like a prophecy of the destruction that would hit South Central Los Angeles in April 1992 following the Rodney King verdict.

Unfortunately, this collection does little to resuscitate Cube’s once-vital role as rap’s dark conscience, favoring feel-good club hits and discarded remixes over serious political screeds. The nihilistic slow ride of "It Was a Good Day" and the furious swipes of "The Ni**a Ya Love To Hate" seem oceans apart from later fare like the bloated brags of "Pushin’ Weight" and the irrelevant striptease of "We Be Clubbin’." The addition of two new tracks doesn’t help much; not only does "Late Night Hour" borrow liberally from Cube’s legendary N.W.A verses, but the Neptunes-produced beat finds him awkwardly trying to keep in step with the times. At least they didn’t include his notoriously racist "Black Korea."

BY HUA HSU

Issue Date: December 27, 2001 - January 3, 2002

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