Thursday, 7 March 2019
Don't Sleep #16
Ice Cube 'What Can I Do' remixes (1994)
2 remixes of a track that appeared on the often maligned Lethal Injection. The first thing to say is that these versions hit the target and both are significantly different and better, which is exactly what a remix should be (remixes that just consist of getting a bunch of guest rappers on the same beat are an entirely different thing and should be treated as such). I recently commented on another post that this might be the last great Ice Cube track. I know You Can Do It was a huge commercial success and Club Banger but I think we'd all prefer to hear pretty much anyone rap on it apart from Ice Cube. Fabolous, Nelly or Jadakiss would've been right at home on that. The guy that made Amerikkka's Most Wanted and Dead Homiez not so much. Anyway, both mixes of What Can I Do are dope depending on your mood...
First up is the slightly harder to find of the two. The Eastside remix is by Ali Shaheed Mohammed (weird choice right?) and got some spins by Flex back in the day. It has that stripped down beat you'd associate with a lot of ATCQ tracks from around that time and is a nice take on the original version, making it more palatable for the boom bap contingent but retaining the laid back feel of the original.
The Westside mix is by the somewhat underrated Lay Law of Above The Law. I say somewhat as he's widely credited with inspiring the sound Dre used on The Chronic and as a result inventing G Funk, but Above The Law are still kind of slept on. The beat is exactly what you'd expect a '94 West Coast track to sound like but it fits perfectly and brings more energy than the LP version, which might be why Cube decided to change tack at the end and instead of being resigned to his fate as an ex-con working at McDonalds, he adds some extra lyrics and ends up on the run after joining forces with the guy that robs the place. A nice touch, giving you some good value for money and that's all we wanted back in the day, before people started acting like music doesn't exist if it's not on a streaming service. Also, this version doesn't have the big rant at the end and is all the better for it.
As for Lethal Injection, it gets a bad time and admittedly it's not amazing, but Cube had set the bar ridiculously high with a run of 3 classics in 3 years before this. If it was anpther artist's debut it could well be getting mentioned in discussions about slept on/underrated albums where people show off their knowledge of obscure regional shit and early 90s underground rap. Really Doe is a solid start, albeit not a strong lead single. You Know How We Do It is flawless and better than It Was A Good Day, which Cube was clearly trying to emulate. Ghetto Bird is tough, although once again maybe the remixes are better. The main fuck up is including the 11 minute version of Bop Gun in the middle, which was a nightmare for anyone rocking it on tape for one thing but it really slows the momentum down. Either throw it on at the end or use the edited single version (and it was a good single) and keep it moving. Cave Bitch is a bit shit but reps an era where rappers weren't trying to "build a brand" and it would be fantastic to watch the social media meltdown if it came out today. I think the main issue with the album overall is that Cube was generally known for aggressive, hyped up songs and the lyrical content people loved him for didn't always sit well on that post-Chronic production. Still, it's better than Home Invasion though, which came out in the same year, so there's always that.