Ice Cube‘s classic rap songs, whether solo or with pioneering gangsta rap crew N.W.A., are as cinematic as any film. In 1986, he wrote Eazy-E‘s hit “Boyz N the Hood,” which later supplied the title and subtext for John Singleton’s Oscar-nominated 1991 saga, which also featured Cube’s first acting role. O’ Shea Jackson, 44, later sneered his way to stardom in comedies (21 Jump Street) and dramas (Three Kings), but he also added writing and producing to his résumé,with film franchises Friday and Barbershop. His latest project as producer, the N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton, takes him back to his roots, documenting the revolutionary rise of the world’s most dangerous rap group.
Division Of Labor
“It was hard earlier in my career, so I decided not to balance [films and music]. When I’m working on a movie, I’m fully engulfed in it and not thinking about music. When I’m working on music, I’m not thinking about movies. I realized this after I made a few records that I didn’t like and a few movies that I wasn’t into. I was halfway in both worlds, constantly leaving the set to make music. You end up cheating both if you don’t separate them.”
Which Is Harder?
“With acting, you never feel like you’re good enough. There are always ways to better communicate your character to the audience. You can’t get comfortable.”
Oscar Or Grammy: Pick One
“Neither. Because I ain’t got one, and I still feel good about myself. Some artists play the game how it’s supposed to be played, and some artists don’t care and do what they want to do. Hollywood punishes maverick thinking. The people who don’t schmooze at the parties end up getting overlooked. That stuff is corny to me. I’m not showing up to these events just to take a picture.”
– He has nabbed five No. 1s on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.
– He has appeared in 28 films that have grossed $1.3 billion total, according to figures compiled by
Box Office Mojo.
– He turned down roles in Poetic Justice and Menace II Society.