(originally published in BAY GUARDIAN)

Ice Cube has a lot going on these days. The 28-year-old rapper/producer/actor, who came to fame a decade ago as a key member of NWA, rap's original gangstas,has just written and directed his first movie, The Players Club, in which he also acts. Meanwhile the film's accompanying soundtrack, which sports his popular new single "We Be Clubbin'" and is selling like crazy, appears on his own, new, Heavyweight Records. In addition, he has two solo albums ("War" and "Peace") coming out this year. Cube came to town recently to greet fans at various neighborhood record stores, including T's Wauzi in East Oakland, where I caught up with him.

Billy Jam (BJ): You've got a hell of a lot on your plate these days between
the new label, this movie, and recording albums -- not to mention your three
kids. How do you maintain your sanity?

Cube: I just love it. I love what I do. What I do is my hobby. I don't do too
much else for fun except maybe playing basketball or play stations, or
teaching my kids new things. What I do for fun is what I been doing since I
was 14: rapping, getting dope beats, trying to put dope concepts together, and
keeping my head in the game 24 hours a day.

BJ: You've directed seventeen music videos, but The Players Club is your movie
directorial debut. What's the difference between the two?

Cube: A video is like a hundred yard dash but a movie is more like a marathon;
it goes day after day after day, and you get no sleep, and you gotta be at the
top of your game.

BJ: You're in the Master Pis new movie I Got The Hook Up; youive got a song on
the soundtrack; and he's on also on your soundtrack. Wasn't he also supposed
to be in the movie?

Cube: Yeah. He had a scene in The Players Club but New Line made me cut it
out. It wasn't anything to do with Master P. It was because the girl that
plays Ebony (Monica Calhoun) leaves with him early on in the movie and they
didn't want her to look like a hoe that quick. I feel bad cuz I hunted him
down to do that part but in the editing New Line kept saying she looks bad
too fast.

BJ: Why do you think so many rappers go into TV and movie acting?

Cube: Rappers got that appeal, and kids wanna see us. And I think that rappers
are very theatrical. We're like natural born actors. If you look at rap
videos, they're more cinematic since they're more directed to what you're
hearing in the rap. Also most rappers love actors. What rapper don't like Al
Pacino's character in Scarface ?

BJ: Looking back, what are your best records?

Cube: AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted and Death Certificate. The records that I don't
like are The Predator and Lethal Injection because with those two I was taking
the whole rap game for granted. But now I'm rededicated and refocused. With
the Westside Connection record, I got back to the music itself. And with the
two records I got coming, War, which will be out in the summer, and Peace,
which will be out at Christmas, I'll quiet my critics. The songs have more
texture to them than just a rap and a beat. I tried to go for feeling and for
mood. War is real dark, one of the darkest records I've ever done.

BJ: Many people say that you and Westside Connection fueled the whole
East/West coast rivalry. What do you say?

Cube: Doing that record it looked like we were siding with Death Row and 2Pac
against Puffy and Bad Boy, but that's not the case. And never did we want to
see any brothers get hurt or killed. We was throwing the W sign long before
that feud. And that record was not a fan record. It was a record geared
straight to the rap industry on the East, cuz they got the most influence. If
they diss a DJ Quik record but praise a Biggie Smalls record, and say gangsta
rap is over and played out, and then a dude comes out and does the same thing
and gets all the praise, well then we gotta stand up and say; ihold up! We see
what's going on here!i Someone's trying to pull the rug out from under us and
basically shut us out of the market cuz when the media starts talkin like
that, soon they'll stop writing stories on us, and they'll stop playing our

BJ: How did NWA first get heard?

Cube: We'd sell tapes at the swap meet and later we'd sell 'em in this guy's
shop. Dre would do mix tapes and I'd freestyle over them, and just talk about
neighborhood shit. What happened then was people couldn't get enough of them.
So we said, lets do some records and that's how "Dopeman" and "Boyz-n-the
Hood" and all those came about. We developed it in the street first from about
84/85 and we made "Boyz-n-the Hood" in '86.

BJ: Are NWA responsible for gangsta rap?

Cube: Yeah. There were a lot of signs that it was coming and I can't take away
from what people like Ice T and Schoolly D and Boogie Down Productions did,
but I think we perfected it. We crystallized it.

BJ: How do you feel now about the widespread influence of NWA?

Cube: It still trips me that from when Straight Outta Compton dropped in '89
to almost ten years later, that gangsta rap is still the most interesting,
exciting, and the most money-making form of rap there is.

BJ: Will there be that promised NWA reunion?

Cube: Nah, cuz Dr Dre doesn't want to do the record. I want to do the record,
Ren wanna do it, and, of course Yella wants to do the record. But Dre doesn't
want to do it.

BJ: Will you continue to be a rapper and a movie director?

Cube: I want to do them both, and better. I want to master everything I'm into
so I'm just gonna work harder at what I do. And I'm gonna try and do it all
til I start to getting fan mail saying 'Cube, give it up, please, please,