The thing is, while Cube vividly illustrates his coolness and his "predatory" cold blood, his soul, the vulnerability that took him out of the myth of "South Central"… Read More
and placed him smack in the middle of real South Central Los Angeles that sad, mad soul has become more and more obscure.
Ice Cube has shut us out. In no song on The Predator can we see into his mind (let alone his heart), and it was this opportunity to feel what broils the insides of young, urban African American men that made Cube so intense. It's what made his albums such a disturbing ride. You used to be able to reach around and find Ice Cube in there, underneath all that heavy bitch-ho-dick regalia. But this wham-bam album reads like a gangsta's manifesto common and tinny.
Cube's bitch-ho-dick stuff is as thick as on his previous outings Kill at Will, AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted and Death Certificate and it grates. His revenge soliloquies, as in "We Had to Tear This Mothafucka Up," sound contrived. Cube has chosen to recycle instead of reassess, to shoot up outside rather than look inside. He rants, not like the cornered, wrathful man-child of his previous records, but like a second-rate actor playing angry because that's the rule of the mythical South Central.
The twelve-song album (with four dramatic "inserts") is muddy musically. Cube and his compatriots D.J. Muggs (of Cypress Hill) and Torcha Chamba leave Cube's pseudofrantic lyrics fighting to be heard. Aside from an ice-cold snatch from X-Clan's first album on "When Will They Shoot?" the found sounds are uninspired. The caustic cynicism and searing imagery of such classic Cube songs as "Once Upon a Time in the Projects," "A Gangsta's Fairytale" (a sequel on The Predator falls flat) and "Dead Homiez," as well as the fire of a song like "Endangered Species," are all but gone.
But more glaring than the lack of mind-blowing songs is the absolute absence of introspection. Throughout The Predator, Ice Cube's persona his gangsta lean is so ancient it's creaky, so stagy you half expect someone to yell "cut" at the end of each song. Ice Cube zooms in only on the Others (women, white people, Simi Valley jurors), never once turning his lenslike eye on himself or those he represents by implication. Not a single vulnerability has Ice Cube what he does mainly is give advice and invite us along on fantasy revenge killings à la "Now I Gotta Wet 'Cha." They are voyeuristically empowering for a moment, but Ice Cube seems flattened by la