Greatest Hits

You can almost hear Ice Cube's demeanor mellowing and the MC-turned-actor/filmmaker's wallet gettin' fatter on this seemingly overdue retrospective.

You can almost hear Ice Cube's demeanor mellowing and the MC-turned-actor/filmmaker's wallet gettin' fatter on this seemingly overdue retrospective. But plowing through the anger of his early material and into the top-down, gangsta funk of his latter-day jams, Cube's versatility is heard just as loudly. Though the record's nonchronological track listing causes its momentum to spit and sputter a bit, Greatest Hits reminds that, since leaving N.W.A., the gangsta-rap pioneer has proved himself able to effortlessly switch from hip-hop storyteller ("Once Upon a Time in the Projects," "It Was a Good Day") to party host ("Bop Gun"). But that's also what makes Hits a bit of an uneven listen—super-funky, ultra-hooky tracks appear back-to-back with hard, heavy cuts that aren't terribly melodic. But even if Hits has you skipping around a lot, it's unquestionably a must-have document of one of rap's most iconic figure's growth. Still irresistible is the "Check Yo Self" remix, the squealing, West Coast pimp synth-laden "You Know How We Do It," and the wonderfully lusty "You Can Do It," featuring the super-freaky Ms. Toi. Surprisingly welcome is the bumpin' new jam, "$100 Dollar Bill Ya'll," a collaboration with producer Rockwilder.—WO