Thursday, January 03, 2008

New Videos From Ice Cube And Lupe Fiasco

("Gangsta Rap Made Me Do It")

("Superstar", Live on "Late Show With David Letterman")

Probably the only thing right now that David Letterman and Ice Cube have in common right now is that they both have beards. That, and they have new videos. Well, more so in the case of Ice Cube, seeing as Letterman just had Lupe Fiasco on his show, the first in the two months since the WGA strike began, last night. Ice Cube's new video, for a track called "Gangsta Rap Made Me Do It", is a satirical jibe at those who think gangsta rap is ruining America. This means you, Bill O'Lielly.

While the track and video are excellent concepts in theory, with Cube taking on the mocking position that everything was hunky dory before ole gangsta rap came along and invented concepts like murder, rape, and armed robbery, the video itself is heavy-handed in its execution. This is particularly true during the prologue, where a classroom session in a dystopian future is dedicated to warning the youngsters about the evils of "gangsta rap". The kids, smart as they are, don't buy it. The rest of the video is Cube performing with intermittent clips of violence flashing on the screen. It's good to see Cube taking on the man again (I'd imagine that Are We There Yet? would have that effect on someone), but the track could have been more subtle in its jabs. But then, we probably wouldn't be talking about it, would we?

Speaking of satire, Lupe Fiasco's "Superstar", the first single of his excellent release, The Cool, is a dig at material desires and the conquest for fame. Unlike Cube's song, Lupe's is a bit more humanistic. Fiasco recognizes the traps and the bullshit and, yet, still wants to participate, to a degree, because who wouldn't want to have their music heard by everyone? That would certainly explain his energetic, immensely appealing performance of the song on Letterman's show. Fiasco's rendition of "Superstar" effectively makes a case for Lupe as both a critic of society at large and as a kinder, gentler and more thoughtful example of what a Superstar can be.

Watch both videos at the top of the post. For a live version of "Superstar", recorded at Chicago's House of Blues, go here.

Lupe Fiasco MySpace Page
Ice Cube MySpace Page

(Jonathan Graef)

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