Ice Cube: From Music to Movies
Call him one of the godfathers of rap, but Cali's own Ice Cube is arguably the king of rappers with successful acting and production gigs on the side. While it's easy to bestow LL Cool J or Ice-T with the thespian crown, O'Shea Jackson has not only consistently lit up the silver screen in hood classics like 'Friday' and 'Boyz n the Hood,' but with his upcoming small screen adaptation of his 2005 hit film, 'Are We There Yet?,' he's poised to take his Hollywood career into a whole new territory.
Though he's got a long production and acting career behind (and presumably ahead of) him, Cube is covering new ground with the television debut of 'Are We There Yet?,' slated to premiere on TBS June 2nd with back-to-back half-hour episodes at 9 P.M. and 9:30 P.M. The film's sequel, 'Are We Done Yet?,' left off with protagonists Nick (Cube) and Suzanne (Nia Long) moving to the suburbs to raise their kids in a better environment, and the show picks up there, with Terry Crews taking on the role of Nick Kingston-Persons and Essence Atkins playing his wife. The scripted comedy will capture the day-to-day antics that take place in the household, including life as newlyweds and issues raising a 10- and 14-year-old. And though Cube is handing over the protagonist to Crews, he's still got a stake in the show, serving as producer and playing a recurring role as Suzanne's SWAT officer brother.
As one of the (if not the) first emcees to star in a hit movie, follow up with a huge sequel and then franchise it for the small screen, Cube is expanding his brand to the far reaches of the entertainment industry. As far back as 1987, Cube has been funneling passion into his work, starting with N.W.A.'s 'N.W.A. and the Posse', his first appearance on a major release. But after the group changed the rap game with '88's 'Straight Outta Compton' and Cube branched out with his debut solo album 'AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted,' the fire-tongued rapper decided to take a quick break from rapping to try his hand at territory relatively unfamiliar to hip-hop: acting.
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Cube made his theatrical debut in John Singleton's Oscar-nominated 1991 flick 'Boyz n the Hood,' playing Darrin "Doughboy" Baker, a thug who had been recently released from juvenile prison and ends up getting roped into gang violence (and inevitably becoming a victim of it). The role not only helped propel Cube from a popular rapper to a multifaceted entertainer, but it helped bolster the general public's perception of hip-hop and emcees of the time. After N.W.A. and Cube vehemently spoke out against society's ills and came under fire from the FBI for promoting violence against police, Cube showed that there was more to rappers than sharp lyrics and sharper messages. Emcees weren't just being explicit and crass on wax – they were expressing the injustices felt in the hood, in places where a mouthpiece didn't exist. Cube used his career outside of hip-hop to serve as that mouthpiece, and his career undoubtedly benefited from it.
From there, Cube went on to have both a fruitful music career, and one outside of rapping, paving the way for other emcees to make similar leaps. Without Cube, there might not be a Ludacris or 50 Cent, rappers who began their careers in a similar position, slowly building themselves a media empire. Even LL Cool J, who came into the game earlier, might not have had the same success on the big and small screens had it not been for Cube clearing the path. Keep in mind, he was also part of the first music group to ever get a "Parental Advisory" sticker slapped on the front of their CD. This man has not only overcome adversity for the music that he makes, but he's accomplished what most rappers and aspiring actors would kill for.
Helped establish a baseline for rappers trying to break out of the music box and become more than just an emcee, it's with Cube that hip-hop has become more than just a way to express oneself through music – it's a lifestyle that can extend beyond. And without his efforts, the games – both music and film – wouldn't be the same.