Ice Cube is back on big screen with Are We Done Yet?
If, 20 years ago, a journalist had asked rapper Ice Cube what he’d be doing in his mid- to late-thirties, making family films almost certainly wouldn’t be at the top of his list.
But that’s exactly where the rapper-actor-director and gangsta rap pioneer finds himself with the release of Are We Done Yet?, the sequel to his 2005 hit Are We There Yet?
In this installment, a re-make of the 1948 Cary Grant vehicle Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, again co-starring Alfie’s Nia Long and introducing Scrubs’ John C. McGinley to the burgeoning franchise, Cube reprises his role as Nick Persons.
But this time around, Nick relocates the family to the suburbs and decides to renovate the new family house himself before quickly realizing he’s in over his head. He contracts local handyman Chuck Mitchell (McGinley) to complete the job, before realizing he’d be getting more than he bargained for from his new bumbling sidekick.
Cube — a father of four himself — takes his status as role model onscreen suburban dad in stride, but feels that his days with N.W.A. in the ‘80s will never be in his past, promising that his next record Raw Footage will be even more politically charged than his past solo efforts.
So how does one of the most successful and controversial voices in rap history reconcile family man roles on-screen with a controversial musical sideline?
“Well, you know, my thing is we did those records in the past really to scream about what we saw as injustice in the ‘hood,” Cube says. “The gangsters out there are no different than anybody in here. They want a car, house, kids, wife, they want all these nice things that they see on TV, and in their pursuit of that, they wind up, you know, going down the wrong road.”
Cube — whose other film credits include XXX: State Of The Union and the Barbershop films — has no desire to one day take home Oscars. He’s more interested in entertaining and throwing a few curves at his fans than filling his trophy room.
But that doesn’t mean he isn’t dedicated to producing what he feels is quality work, especially on the music front at a time when he feels hip hop has fallen into the trap of commercial music-making for profit sake.
“They go for looks, gimmicks and images and they don’t really go for what’s coming out the speakers,” he says of the involvement of commercial record labels in the hip-hop scene over the past decade or more.
Socially conscious hip hop, he says, has been ignored by labels and radio stations to meet commercial demands.
“I just feel like somebody somewhere made a conscious decision and said we’ll pump the booty rap because that’s not threatening to our establishment as much as what Chuck D is saying. (Socially conscious rap) is coming back because I think people yearn for it more than just shake-your-ass rap.”
- Are We Done Yet? opens in theatres tomorrow.