"I don't see how anybody could believe what that man says," says the rapper Ice Cube of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
He's not one to mince words. The West Coast hip-hop luminary's new single, "Everythang's Corrupt," is a no-holds-barred, politically charged record that plumbs the seedy, greedy underbelly that stinks up so much of American society. It's also the title track off his next LP, his first since 2010, which the MC hopes to have on shelves by spring 2013.
Romney features prominently in the new video for the single. "He just reminds me of somebody who's trying to sell me a Mercedes Benz," says Cube. "He'll tell me that it looks good on me and this is my color and I can afford it and everything, just to get the sale. It's astonishing that people are buying into that at the rate they are."
A self-described "political head," Ice Cube says the track speaks to the corruption rampant in everything from politics to education to sports, but he notes that he was particularly inspired by the 99-percenters who spearheaded the Occupy movement. "That right there was basically the classes clashing. You were able to see the power of the rich really trying to step on the poor. It was really clear, it was really in your face. Corruption was in the air and everywhere."
After laying down his lyrics, however, Ice Cube recalls playing "Everythang's Corrupt" and thinking the track needed something to kick it up another notch – so he enlisted Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello. Though the two knew each other and had long admired each other's work, they'd never collaborated, and Ice Cube figured this was the perfect chance. He sent Morello the cut without any instructions and let the axe man do his thing. He added crunchy, funky riffs and a screeching solo to close out the song.
The track, of course, comes at a crucial time, with the election right around the corner and political fervor reaching a boiling point. While the song focuses specifically on corruption, Ice Cube hopes it will help people get their "antennas up" about the world around them as a whole.
"When it comes to political hip-hop, it's like beauty – it's in the eye of the beholder," he says. "Whatever you get out of this song is intended."
There's plenty to fuel that perspective, and Ice Cube adds that he's been following this year's presidential race rather closely. The rapper praised President Obama for the work he's been able to accomplish despite "a do-nothing Congress and the Party of No," and he hopes if Obama is re-elected, he'll focus on jobs and ending poverty. "We have to deal with that," he says. "We're never gonna give what we need to give as a country if some of our citizens are lower than Third World."
Ice Cube does note, however, that while Everythang's Corrupt will have its fair share of politically charged moments (like the song "Dominate the Weak"), it's not a wholly political record. For instance, there's "Damn Homie," which Ice Cube says with a laugh, is about "a dude that was the shit in high school, and I see him now and he's fat and looks like Homer Simpson."
Everythang's Corrupt also marks Ice Cube's first studio release since 2010's I Am The West, though the MC says getting back into the studio felt easy and natural. "I try to work in a pure way," he says. "Being independent, to me, it's more of a boutique type of deal – you should not be a trendsetter, you should kinda do your own thing, and people will appreciate you for that."