Will this year’s biopic of NWA, Straight Outta Compton, be the moment when Ice Cube gets to realise the dream conveyed in Public Enemy’s Burn Hollywood Burn? The dream, as I interpret it, is where PE, ft. Big Daddy Kane and Ice Cube (it’s actually Big Daddy Kane’s line though), express the wish/desire/need to “make our own movies like Spike Lee / Cause the roles being offered don’t strike me /”
The reason I ask is that as a sixteen (or so) year old listening to NWA’s debut album of the same name and being blown away by it and the hype surrounding a group that seemed to have the force to move popular culture a step further away from complacency, I now struggle to understand what happened to the Ice Cube from those heady days. The reason I struggle is that I have since seen such films as Are We There Yet?, an Ice Cube vehicle of Hollywood’s making.
Of course I must await the film’s general release, but I can’t help feeling that it will be a pointless exercise because of the position Ice Cube has carved out for himself, in Hollywood, in the years following his exit from the group – maybe I just expected more than to see him in roles like the Jump Street franchise. Is it me, or is Chuck D the only true standout figure from those days, someone who has stuck to his principles, regardless of whether you agree with them, and who has refused to become a Hollywood puppet like so many others who aspire to fame and celebrity, and if so, where is the independent film charting their rise? I’d rather watch that.