For iconic rapper Ice Cube, music and film are extensions of each other.
“I look at ‘It Was a Good Day’ as a song version of a movie like ‘Friday,’” he says. “‘Friday’ is the extended version of ‘It Was a Good Day,’ with a crazy twist put on it. It’s cool to be able to jump in and out of these different creative spaces to show people what you got.”
Ice Cube has two Arizona shows coming up: Saturday, September 11, at Casino Del Sol in Tucson; and Friday, December 3, as part of the 101.1 Bounce Holiday Jam with Too Short, Warren G, Baby Bash, The Luniz and J.J. Fad at the Footprint Center.
He recently returned to the stage after a pandemic-forced hiatus. Ice Cube said it was nearly heartbreaking.
“I’ve been on stage every year since I was 16 or 17 years old,” he says. “To have it taken away and then to jump back on it, you realize how much you appreciate it. It’s a fun part of the industry.
“I felt like I was on a merry-go-round. I’m doing the same thing year after year, between movies, music and shows, all the stuff you do until it’s taken away. I couldn’t wait to get back. I’m rejuvenated. I appreciate it, and I’m giving it 110%.”
Growing up in crime- and gang-infested South Central Los Angeles in the 1970s and ’80s, Ice Cube toed the line between right and wrong. However, his comedic chops are evident even in difficult situations.
After penning the memorable lyrics on N.W.A.’s groundbreaking songs “Straight Outta Compton” and “F Tha Police,” Ice Cube left the group at its peak due to payment issues. That didn’t stop Ice Cube’s success. He recently released his 18th album as a solo artist or group member, “Everythang’s Corrupt.”
He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2016, and as a solo recording artist he has sold more than 10 million albums.
Outside of music, Ice Cube has been honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2017. In film, he produced the “Friday,” “Ride Along,” “Barbershop” and “Are We There Yet?” franchises as well as the award-winning N.W.A. biopic “Straight Outta Compton.” He is an acclaimed writer (“Friday,” “The Players Club”) and director (“The Players Club”).
His acting chops were honed in films like “Friday,” “Barbershop,” and “Ride Along,” as well as the “21 Jump Street” series. He played a conflicted teen in “Boyz N The Hood”; a soldier in “Three Kings,” which was filmed in Arizona; and a government agent in “xXx: State of the Union.”
The concerts will feature a sampling of tracks from Ice Cube’s catalog.
“I like to give people the whole catalog, if I can — from ‘Straight Outta Compton’ to ‘Everythang’s Corrupt,’” he says. “I just give people a taste of my whole career.
“It’s kind of to celebrate the different phases of my music. From the politically charged to the straight street, West Coast culture, to the club-banging party jams, they get it all.”
A member of Mt. Westmore with Snoop Dogg, Too $hort and E-40, Ice Cube will be accompanied by his longtime cohort, WC of Westside Connection.
“Westside Connection forever,” he says. “We have a couple West Side Connection songs in the set. I just think you get everything you want from an Ice Cube concert.”
Lately, Ice Cube has been focusing on the fourth year of Big3, a 3-on-3 professional basketball league, which he founded with entertainment executive Jeff Kwatinetz. The league has 12 teams with former NBA players and international players.
“The Big3 is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in entertainment,” he says. “Rap was already there when I got into it. Movies were already there when I got into them. Basketball courts were already there, but not 3 on 3.
“It was never elevated to a professional level. That was the hardest part —convincing people that this is a sport that could work as a professional sport, not just an amateur backyard playground thing. It wasn’t easy to get it to this point. It’s starting to get a lot of respect in the sports world and fans.”
All his projects, he says, are ways to disperse his creative energy.
“I move my energy in the directions where I feel it will be the most effective,” he says. “When I feel like it’s going to be a visual thing, it’ll be a motion picture. Is it enough material to do a movie or is it a quick hit, like a movie? It’s all pretty cool.”
When: 8 p.m. Saturday, September 11
Where: AVA Amphitheater at Casino Del Sol, 5655 W. Valencia Road, Tucson
101.1 The Bounce’s Holiday Jam w/Ice Cube, Too Short, Warren G, Baby Bash, The Luniz and J.J. Fad
When: 8 p.m. Friday, December 3
Where: The Footprint Center, 201 E. Jefferson Street, Phoenix
Info: 602.379.2000, footprintcenter.com