Ice Cube, Tha Dogg Pound, Clipse

Rap granddaddies don't get the same benefits as their rock counterparts--names like Big Daddy Kane and Young MC won't move a crowd these days the way the Rolling Stones or Gang of Four do. But if you're coming on two decades in the rap game, and you're still as hard as the day you told America that you were a "crazy motherfucker named Ice Cube," you might have a shot. The proof's in the forthcoming Laugh Now, Cry Later, another disc drenched in West Coast beats in which Cube declares he "ain't just a legend: I'm a mothafuckin' myth." Astute statement--Mr. O'Shea Jackson has ridden the gangsta persona from N.W.A. to Westside Connection to his solo work and all bitches, punks and niggas in between, and his rap identity is a big part of his appeal. But scaring Middle America would mean nothing without delivery so hard, so smooth and so professional. Threats are nothing without talent to back 'em up, which is why it's nice to hear that Cube still pushes rhymes like weight.


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