The Predator (Priority)
Ice Cube

By Bob Bahr

This is past hardcore, beyond confrontational, further than aggressive. The Predator is Ice Cube as a superhero warrior for the black race, an out-sized, violent man with a hair trigger. In plain language, Ice Cube says that if you mess with him, you will be shot. He claims the envious (and dubious) ability to easily know exactly who the enemy is, and he has a Dirty Harry-like way of dealing with him.

Ice Cube's hard edge never cracks once in this disc's 56 minutes. His lyrics seem born in blind rage and never edited, full of hatred and unhappiness. A selection of quotes from Mr. Cube:

On the officers tried in the Rodney King trial -- "Pretty soon we're gonna catch Sergeant Koon/shoot him in the face then hit him with a broom stick." Later he says he's looking for the addresses of the jury, so he can "make them eat the barrel."

From his statement of purpose, "The Predator" -- "White America/I'm tearing you a new asshole...gotta little problem with the redneck cracker." And -- "The Statue of Liberty ain't nothing but a lazy b----."

A break from the carnage is "It Was a Good Day," which Ice Cube describes as 24 hours of sex, basketball, TV at Short Dog's house, and more sex. Notable quote: "Today I didn't even have to use my AK/I gotta say it was a good day."

At the end of this perversely pastoral scene, he says, "What the f--- am I think about?" and the album twists into "We Had to Tear This M---F-- Up." (In reference to Los Angeles and the riots, he says the rioters tore up the town "To get some respect.")

The Predator is mad about the Rodney King trial. For the white majority that agrees that the verdicts were surreally wrong, this album stings. We are all to blame, we're told, because we're white devils.

There are several other factors at work within The Predator. Ice Cube's voice is second only to fellow hardcore rapper Chuck D. in magnificence. Distinctive and forceful, it has inspired thousands of young rappers; his song forms and phrasing have been looted with relish, like a Panasonic in a burnt-out storefront. Interestingly, he has drawn from the delivery style of some younger groups (Cypress Hill, Das EFX) to modify his style a bit here, and with a high degree of success. Why is The Predator a good record? Because Ice Cube is delivering the rhymes.

D.J. Muggs and Cube produced it well, incorporating beats, samples and dialogue snippets in a no-nonsense fashion. The profanity will make you flinch, and so will the rampant, graphic violence ("Watch this. Hey whassup, man?" "Not too much, man." "You know you won, G." "Won what?" "THE WET T-SHIRT CONTEST, M---F---!!" Rat-a-tatt-tatt goes the gun, and Ice Cube has killed a man.).

Ice Cube's voice is an important one, but what everyone (of every color) must ask is, do I want this piece of well-crafted ugliness in my record collection? And while the message is relevant, is it reaching the people who could improve things, or merely reaching Ice Cube's fans? The Predator is a disturbing record on many levels.