It's been well over a year since Dr. Dre first announced that a reunited N.W.A., with Snoop Dogg subbing for the late Eazy-E, had begun work on their first album in ten years, Not These Niggaz Again. Four members of the reformed gangsta squad -- Dre, Snoop, Ice Cue and MC Ren -- shared a bill on last summer's Up in Smoke Tour, where they sketched beats and rhymes in a mobile recording studio. Last July, Dre said that the group's lone absentee, DJ Yella, had signed on and that pending some legal issues with Priority Records -- such as who owns the act's name -- the project was a go.
Since then, though, there hasn't been a peep from the reassembled, attitudinal rappers. Interscope Records, Dre's home and the likely home of the reunion album, says Not These Niggaz Again isn't on their release schedule, which would make sense since, according to Ice Cube, nothing's been formally recorded.
"It's easier said than done," Cube says of the reunion. "We're up against two things: We don't have a lot of time, and we have to do a great record. That doesn't compute. There are a lot of expectations with that record, and if we don't have time to meet those expectations, it's better not to do it than to go in and half-ass it. We made a lot of progress on the Up in Smoke Tour, gellin' back together and understanding how we've grown, but you know, I'm doin' a movie here, they're doin' their movies. It's really on Dre. If he ain't puttin' the tracks together, I really ain't down to rap on nobody else's tracks. He's the quarterback."
Movies do abound. Ice Cube has one feature, Friday After Next, in production and two others -- Barbershop and The Big Ticket -- on his docket, so it may be some time before he gets around to droppin' any fresh rhymes, be it for N.W.A. or a new solo album. Until he puts down those scripts and picks up a mike, Cube fans will have to make due with the rapper's forthcoming Greatest Hits album.
Due December 4th, the seventeen-song set culls from Cube's post-N.W.A. discography, including tracks from his eight solo albums ("Check Yo Self, "It Was A Good Day," etc.), his work with side project the Westside ("Bow Down") and choice soundtrack cuts ("We Be Clubbin'"). Also included are two new joints Cube cooked up expressly for the collection, one produced by the Neptunes ("In the Late Night Hour"), and the other by Rockwilder ("$100 Bill Y'all").
"I would like to come out with a Volume Two," Ice Cube says, already looking ahead. "I didn't get everything that I wanted to put on there. So I'm already planning for another one."
When Cube finally does get around to making a new album, he'll have to find himself a new home. Greatest Hits fulfills his contractual obligations to longtime label Priority, and he's happily a free agent. "It's time to sign with one of the big boys," Cube says. "I've outgrown what [Priority] is able to do for me. I need to get with somebody who can sell records on the worldwide level."