Published Jan 03, 2019Think an OG like Ice Cube must be out of touch in 2018, never mind remaining relevant? Well, the battle hardened 49-year-old vet will prove you wrong with Everythang's Corrupt.
Yes, three-and-a-half decades into his career, and at the height of the lyrically milquetoast mumble rap era, Cube is spitting bars strong enough to evoke his classics, Death Certificate and AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted. Many of these fresh tracks are as socially conscious and political as those heyday releases. An obvious example is "Arrest the President," on which Cube says Donald Trump treats the White House like a trap house. The veteran rapper gets even better results, however, on the subtler "Fire Water," which finds him spitting about liquor, sugar, salt and other vices that impoverished communities are addled with.
While Cube employs plenty of ambitious themes and frequently lays down solid bars, Everything's Corrupt is by no means flawless. A few downright laughable clunkers crop up on songs like "One For the Money," on which he raps: "Can't get nothin' from me / Who I look like, the fuckin' Easter Bunny?"
Minor stumbles aside, however, Cube's vigorous delivery puts the album over, along with his willingness to adopt flows you wouldn't expect from an MC so long in the tooth. He brings catchy, chant-like cadences to bear on highlights like "Don't Bring Me No Bag," "On Them Pills," and "Ain't Got No Haters," especially for the a cappella intro of the latter. "Ain't Got No Haters" stands out all the more because Cube uses it to meld past and present, spitting the tight, compact flows of a nimble up-and-comer over a vintage West coast funk instrumental.
The best track of all, however, is "That New Funkadelic." Musically, it doesn't fit with the rest of the album's slick, brawny beats. But you won't care as you listen to its splashy, organic retro funk instrumentation (credited to producer T-Mix and featuring Tracy Nelson & Deonis "Pumah" Cook). Cube sounds like he's having a ball with that raw rhythm, rapping at a breathless speed with shameless glee, all of which is refreshingly rare for the typically stone-faced gangsta rapper.
While it's not quite a classic like his seminal late '80s to early '90s run, Everythang's Corrupt is a return to form, especially after Cube's rudimentary 2000s releases like Laugh Now, Cry Later and I Am the West. It's heartening to hear an icon with nothing left to prove rap with the hunger of a youngster so far into his career. (Interscope)