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Hear Ice Cube Reveal N.W.A’s Secret History

Rapper on the roots of gangsta rap and his first impressions of Eazy-E

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On the new episode of the Rolling Stone Music Now podcast, host Brian Hiatt shares the audio of his interview with Ice Cube, conducted for a 2015 cover story on the Straight Outta Compton movie.  To hear the episode, press play below or download and subscribe on iTunes or Spotify.


Ice Cube on the roots of gangsta rap 
“Even a little before [Ice-T’s] ‘6 ‘N The Mornin” I think the first thing we heard was Schoolly D’s “P.S.K.” And Just Ice had this dirty-ass rap called “Latoya,” – it was like the nasty version of “La Dee Da Dee.” And Blowfly had “Rapp Dirty,”  so it was just like these fringe raps that were X-rated. The thing is, hip-hop, before it was all about talking about hard shit, it was like, how clever are you, how damn near funny can you be? How entertaining can you be with a rap? People like Blowfly had the style, to me, down pat. He was talking dirty, he was cussing, he was rhyming, but he was talking about some fly shit that pertained to him, so to me that style was raw but it was perfect for him.”

On his first impressions of Eazy-E
“Yeah, he was a little hustler. You know, his shit was just all fresh and clean, little jewelry on. You could just tell what somebody was doing. I admired him, you know. He was making money in the neighborhood, you know what I’m saying? He had money, he had his clientele, he was doing his shit, didn’t ask nobody for shit, so yeah. I dug him.”

On Eazy’s persona
“People used to think he was 15 for a long time! That Eazy name was just like something you could play with, fuck with, you know. It’d remind me of Bootsy Collins. He could’ve done fucking action figures or whatever he wanted to do with that, you know? It was the perfect persona to play with. It was bad but it was vivid. Like a fucking Chucky doll or something. It’s just this fucking thing that’s got a life of its own.”

On the police
“I don’t know nobody from the hood who ain’t really been fucked with by the police at some point, and ,they get you early. They start fucking with you when you’re nine, 10, just to put that intimidation in you.. They start at an early age fucking with you -pulling you off your bike, make you put your hands on the hood. Fucking nine, 10 year olds, sitting on the grass, just played football — these motherfuckers swoop up and fuck with you and it just happens all through your fucking life, you know what I mean, until you either get out of the neighborhood or whatever you do. But as teenagers it’s happening all the fucking time. All the time. Even recording the records we used to get fucked with. And I think it’s systematic; it’s like make sure you fucking put a good imprint on these young ones, so they know to fucking be scared of you when they get older. You keep having these incidents and the fear turns into resentment, frustration, and hatred.”

On Dr. Dre’s first reaction to “Fuck the Police”
“He had to go and do weekends in the county, so he was like, ‘Man, we ain’t about to do this song. I’ve gotta go to the county every fucking weekend and I’m not about to give these motherfuckers no extra room to fuck me up in jail.’ So while he was doing that, he didn’t want to have nothing to do with the song, but much later when I brought it back up he was not under that condition or whatever so he was with it. I remember recording the song and Ren looked at me and said, ‘Out of all our songs, this one right here is gonna start some shit.’  That’s what we wanted to do. If the song ain’t gonna make the police mad, why the fuck do it?”

On Straight Outta Compton‘s title
“Eazy’s whole thing was: We’ve gotta put Compton on the map.  Even people in LA was embarrassed to say they were from Compton. Compton was just like the worst of the worst. He was like, “Man, motherfuckers yelling about their Brooklyn shit all the time, motherfuckers yelling the Bronx, motherfuckers yelling out their — we should yell out Compton,” so that was kind of how it happened.

Download and subscribe to Rolling Stone Music Now, hosted by Brian Hiatt, on iTunes or Spotify, and tune in Fridays at 1 p.m. ET to hear the show broadcast live on Sirius XM’s Volume, channel 106.

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