NEW YORK >> It’s been more than 25 years, and Ice Cube’s still got something to say.
The 48-year-old entertainer has come a long way from his start as part of the West Coast rap group N.W.A. and later a solo artist, branching into movies and now founding a soon-to-be-launched half-court basketball league. But some things haven’t changed, like his willingness to call out law enforcement on the way he sees policing done and to speak his mind on race issues, like he did recently when he took late-night host Bill Maher to task for his use of the N-word during a show.
He brought that attitude to the 25th anniversary re-release this month of his 1991 solo album, “Death Certificate,” with its newly added-on lead single, “Good Cop, Bad Cop.” Asked for his thoughts about where the country is with policing, especially in the wake of several high-profile shootings of minorities by officers, he was blunt: “Same as we always been.”
“Police have a philosophy, they have a theory, they have a way of doing stuff, it’s win at all costs,” Cube, born O’Shea Jackson, said Tuesday in an interview with The Associated Press. “Win now, apologize later, that’s the model. By having that way of thinking and that philosophy, it’s all about ‘Us against Them,’ that’s the mentality.”
“Good Cop, Bad Cop” calls on good cops to speak and act against corrupt police officers, a far cry from the attitude in N.W.A’s infamous song, “F—- tha Police,” but Cube said he’s “always really hoped good police would take care of bad cops,” that while the 1988 song was a “revenge fantasy” type of thing against police abuse, the new song is a plea for honorable cops to step up and speak out.
“They’re our last line of defense against this onslaught of abuse,” he said.
He has seen changes he thinks are positive, he said, pointing to officers in fatal shootings at least getting to the stage of undergoing trials, even if convictions are still extremely rare. In the days of his youth, “police could do no wrong … now you fast forward 25 years later, at least the cops are being put on trial for their actions.”
And it’s not just the police that Cube is willing to, well, police. His appearance on “Real Time With Bill Maher” was noted for his strong criticism of Maher, who had jokingly referred to himself by using the N-word during the previous week’s episode. Cube told Maher, “That’s our word, and you can’t have it back.”
He told The AP, “I know some people say, ‘You from a group called N——- With Attitude and you got a problem with other people saying that,’ and yeah, I do. I really do.”
These days, Cube is getting ready for the launch of Big3, a three-on-three professional basketball league he co-founded which kicks off Sunday. Peopled by former professional basketball players like Allen Iverson and Gary Payton, Cube envisions a league that functions like a traveling “basketball festival” for fans like him.
With the re-release of “Death Certificate” and milestones like recently getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Cube is taking a moment to stop and reflect.
“I’m a forward-moving guy, things that’s in my rearview mirror usually stay there, I’m usually trying to move forward,” he said. At times like this, though, “It’s really all about reflecting and celebrating the moment — but not too much, because (there’s) too much work to do.”