Hip-hop legend Ice Cube rolls into Bend’s Midtown Ballroom on Wednesday! In this week’s GO! Magazine, I make the case for why you shouldn’t turn your nose up at a chance to see the man, given his enormous influence on rap music over the past 20 years.
After “The Predator” (plus his increasing interest in film work), Cube’s musical dominance waned, no doubt about it. But hindsight provides perspective on the importance of Ice Cube’s stint with N.W.A. and his first three solo albums, which, along with fellow gangsta rap pioneer and N.W.A. alum Dr. Dre, ushered in an era of hip-hop that valued gritty street tales and speaking truth to power over, say, a pair of glittery parachute pants. It was an era that would reign for nearly 15 years, until Kanye West came along and spawned a generation of emotive, Auto-Tune-happy singsong rappers like Drake and Kid Cudi.
These days, Ice Cube sounds like a man intent on securing his legacy. His 2010 album is called “I Am the West” and on the chorus of its lead single, “I Rep That West,” Cube defends himself against those who criticize his career arc and reminds us he’s a “hall of famer” in the rap game.
That’s understandable, but unnecessary. Ice Cube doesn’t need to apologize for being a fortysomething dude who has made a ton of cash in his lifetime and can no longer rap knowledgeably about life on the streets.
Sure, the game has passed him by. But it also owes him so much in terms of style, culture and history, thanks in large part to a hyper-productive, ultra-creative five-year stretch more than two decades ago. Even in 2011, the man deserves respect for that.
On the fence about buying a ticket? Click here to be convinced that you should.
Speaking of legends, yes, R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck plays bass for The Baseball Project, and yes, the baseball-themed band is coming to Silver Moon on Thursday. But the Project is the brainchild of pop-rock lifers Scott McCaughey (Minus 5, Young Fresh Fellows) and Steve Wynn (Dream Syndicate, Miracle 3), two super-fans of our national pastime. I caught up with McCaughey shortly after the band wrapped up its tour of spring training sites in Arizona.
GO!: Because of the subject material, is The Baseball Project more fun than your other, non-baseball bands?
SM: I can’t say one’s more fun than the other because of course we love playing our other songs as well, but this is a whole different thing. In a way it’s sort of a relief … to write about another subject. Even though some of the songs end up being personal, a lot of them are also just sort of writing in the folk tradition, the oral tradition of recounting a story or reciting a ballad or whatever, which is a lot different from what Steve and I write normally. So it’s kind of refreshing. I like it. Sometimes I get so into it that it makes it hard to tune back into writing a song about my boring life or whatever.
I will say, though, (at the spring training gigs) I found myself really kind of getting lost in some of these songs … so I felt pretty good about that. They weren’t just exercises in cleverness or something like that. I think they have some emotional weight. At least it feels like it to me when I sing some of ‘em. We’ve been writing songs for so long that we have … a certain standard that we hold ourselves to. Just because these songs are about baseball doesn’t mean that they don’t have to be good songs.
Click here to read the whole thing.
Elsewhere in the music section, we have a fundraiser for Shireen Amini’s new album, tonight’s CD-release party to celebrate Jay Tablet’s “Put It On the Tab,” and the Central Oregon Songwriters’ Association’s annual Song of the Year show, plus The Dangerous Summer, Christabel & the Jons, Necktie Killer, The Mowbray Collective and MC Mystic doing ladies night right. There’s a lot going on in town this weekend, so be sure to check out The Bulletin’s calendar for more options!