Album Preview: Ice Cube – ‘Raw Footage’ received an exclusive invite to preview Ice Cube’s eighth studio album, Raw Footage, at KMS Studios in the heart of Manhattan. Since Cube is still an acclaimed actor, he wasn’t able to show face in the studio but his lyrics more than spoke for him.

Though the Compton native’s last album, Laugh Now, Cry Later, sold more than 600,000 copies, some thought the effort was too hard for Cube. Well, this new album is a compilation of teachings for wanna-be gangsta rappers and the entire crew of one-hit wonders that believe they hold weight in the industry. Cube is far from glamorizing the life of a gangsta. Instead he schools on topics about preserving a rapper’s career, the “N” word, spirituality, the presidential election, hood mentalities, and acts of violence. Disregard the parental advisory sticker, this is an album that any 15-year-old should be allowed to listen to. Besides, there’s nothing wrong with saying, “I’mma fuckin’ get my education and appreciate the shit out of my mother.”

1. “It Takes a Nation”
Produced by Emile

This first track opens and suddenly Cube’s authoritative voice makes the listener come to an abrupt halt. Before the bass line even drops he shouts, “There are seven known wonders of the world, you are about to witness the eighth mafucka!” You can already sense that the rest of this album is going to be a revival for anyone that thought gangsta rap wasn’t being done anymore.

2. “Gangsta Rap Made Me Do It”
Produced by Maestro

“So young, so angry, damn that rap music!” the raspy voice of an elderly man says before the beat drops. Ice Cube is clearly mocking what the media says about gangsta rap. He says, “If I call you a nigga ain’t nothing to it / Gangsta rap made me do it.” This is the echoing theme throughout the track, from slaying crack to shooting up colleges; it can only be justified by the impact of the genre.

3. “Tomorrow”
Produced by Warren “Baby Dub” Campbell

The saying “Carpe Diem” can be used to sum up this track. Cube says, “Don’t you worry about tomorrow, live for today.” Procrastinators beware, Cube is putting everybody in their place. A woman that sounds like a generic backup singer sings the one-lined monotonous hook about four times before any of the other verses begin.

4. “Do Ya Thang”
Produced by Palumbo Beats

The track sounds like the perfect backdrop of a crip-walker. It’s something to easily throw up gang signs and carve Cs into the floor. Contrary to what it sounds like, the lyrics are telling you to do the complete opposite despite the typical reaction any gangster in California may have after just hearing the beat.

5. “Raised in the Hood”
Produced By Warren “Baby Dub” Campbell

Cube takes it back to the hood for a second talking about all of the things he used to do and how much of a great time he had doing it. The hook sounds like some high-pitched chicken heads repeatedly saying, “We know.”

6. “Hood Mentality”
Produced by Teak “Da Beatsmith” Underdue and Dee Underdue

The preaching is heavy on this track. The first verse might appear that Cube is glorifying hood mentality by saying things like “Fuck school… love to see my momma cry.” But he’s actually mimicking what all the “gangstas” say.

7. “Why Me” featuring Musiq Soulchild
Produced by Teak “Da Beatsmith” Underdue and Dee Underdue

Still rocking with a Cali beat, Cube brings in Musiq Soulchild to bring some soul to the track. The crooner’s vocals add insightfulness. Cube talks about the pettiness of murder and he touches on how people are getting killed and don’t know the reason why.

8. “Cold Places”
Produced By Teak “Da Beatsmith” Underdue and Dee Underdue

The heavy sirens and chimes of a clock tower add eeriness to the record. Cube has no mercy for what’s been done in recent years in the black community. He says, “Watching [Hurricane] Katrina is worse than Ike and Tina / Seen New Orleans get bitch slapped by FEMA.”

9. “Stand Tall”
Produced DJ Crazy Toones and David “Dizmix” Lopez

The beat is reminiscent of a classic Marvin Gaye empowerment song. It has more of a smooth head bop, which was precisely chosen because Cube speaks of hope. Although some may want to hear a song about dope.

10. “Concrete”
Produced by Fred Wreck

Cube samples the 1981 smash “Heartbeat” by Taana Gardner. He turns the notorious uptempo love song into a song about the hood. The vocals for the hook even mimic how Ms. Gardner turned the words into a staccato.

11. “Thank God”
Produced by Teak “Da Beatsmith” Underdue and Dee Underdue
Interlude produced by David “Dizmix” Lopez

The intro sounds like it was recorded on the stage of a concert. Before Cube even speaks there’s noise pollution of a crowd applauding and whistling in a very large arena. As he talks about how gangsta rap is blamed for all tragedies, you hear people from his entourage co-signing.

12. “Gangsta Rap (Remix)” featuring Nas and Scarface
Produced by Maestro

Originally, track 12 on the album was a joint called “Believe It or Not,” produced by Emile. Then suddenly we were told to cross that off and then the remix to the current single began to play. Nas and Scarface both give their take on the “deadliness” of gangsta rap.

–Angela Barrett in New York