Picks and Pans Review: The Predator

updated 01/11/1993 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/11/1993 AT 01:00 AM EST

Ice Cube

Ice Cube makes some of hip-hop's fiercest, funkiest records—contributing to the moral dilemma of being a fan. Woven into the beefed-up bass lines, the Parliament-Funkadelic samples and the crisp, staccato attacks arc disturbing and often destructive messages. In the past Cube has lobbed verbal grenades at gays, Jews, Koreans, police and "bitches." The sheer venom of 1991's Death Certificate prompted many groups to urge a boycott and Billboard magazine to condemn the record. No surprise that Cube goes for payback on The Predator's title track ("Mother——Billboard and the editor/I am the predator").

But the core of Cube's fury this time is directed at the Rodney King verdict and the sense of oppression that triggered the riots. A variety of provocative, sometimes lengthy sound bites (a fragment of a Malcolm X speech or the jury foreman reading the King acquittal, for instance) introduce songs. Even when Cube resorts to cartoonism (a goofy cop begs the young blacks in a car he's stopped to give him some doughnuts and is blown away), this is powerful stuff. The ballistic "We Had to Tear This Motha——Up," with its mixture of glee and pain over the L.A. riots is compelling and frightening, as the antigang "Now I Gotta Wet 'Cha" (meaning: bloody you).

Most of Cube's aggression is aimed squarely at "pigs" and "white devils" and the power they represent, but he resorts to his old tricks, scape-goating gays (the pulsating "Check Yo Self," featuring Das EFX) and women. Despite boasting of having a black female manager, he still singles out "bitches" for slimy abuse. Yes, mean, sneaky women exist, but to fixate on them is juvenile and compromises the integrity of Cube's politics. The Predator is a difficult, intense and perversely engaging disc. But as long as Cube insists on bashing other minorities and disenfranchised people and lets hate cloud his vision, he diminishes his power to expose the real problems. (Priority)

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