I Am the West
Even though he’s best known for family-friendly movies these days, Ice Cube still has one of the most urgent and authoritative rap voices in the game. He’s also a master storyteller. When he sets his mind to a worthy topic, like the predatory lenders in the new “Hood Robbin,” he paints a richly detailed picture of people done wrong. Ice Cube is in fine rhyming form throughout I Am the West, and the tracks sprinkle just enough variation into the classic West Coast-style production to keep things interesting and familiar. But there are too many underwhelming guests taking up space here, and Cube spends a lot of time dealing with a perceived lack of respect from modern mainstream rappers. The subject is covered early on I Am the West in the throbbing “Life in California,” but he harps on the same theme throughout the album, instead of tackling bigger targets in his legendary and gifted manner. —Matthew Wilkening
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