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I feel like too many people sleep on Ice Cube. Mostly known as a rapper first, and an actor second, Ice Cube (real name, O’Shea Jackson) has actually made several major contributions to movies and television over the years. Whether it was working as a writer, a producer, or even as a director, Ice Cube has pretty much done it all when it comes to Hollywood. And I feel like very few people even recognize that.
Which is why I thought it necessary to inform you. Because while Ice Cube’s reputation will likely always be tied to N.W.A. (now more than ever because of Straight Outta Compton) and his solo albums like AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted and The Predator, I think it’s also important to note that he acted in a family comedy (two, actually), produced Beauty Shop starring Queen Latifah, and also wrote the screenplay for a movie called Janky Promoters, because why not? So here are some of his other biggest contributions to movies.
Ice Cube's Biggest And Best Contributions As An Actor
Outside of music, Ice Cube is probably most known as an actor, and it’s little wonder. With at least 40 acting credits to his name (with the groundbreaking Boyz n the Hood being his first role), it makes sense that anybody who knows Ice Cube outside of music knows him as an actor. Here are some of his most important roles.
You might think Ice Cube’s role as Danny Rich in Anaconda is no big deal, but it is. The oft-ridiculed (but still classic) movie, which also starred Jon Voight, Owen Wilson, and Jennifer Lopez, was the first genre film Ice Cube did that was outside the gangster type movies that fit his rap persona at the time. In the film, Ice Cube plays a camera man who witnesses (and survives!) one freaking big snake. Everybody say it with me now: “Is snakes out there dis big?!”
In this David O. Russell war/heist film that also stars George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, and Spike Jonze, Ice Cube plays Staff Sergeant Chief Elgin, who may or may not be protected by “Jesus-fire.” Three Kings was notable for 1) being a great movie, and 2) being the kind of film that will be looked at historically for years to come since it predates the Iraq War and represents an interesting time in the Saddam regime. And Ice Cube is starring in it! This is possibly the only Ice Cube movie that may one day (if not already) be taught in history classes around the world.
Who would have thought that Barbershop would become a trilogy (with a side-movie and a Showtime television series to boot!) back when it debuted in 2002? Ice Cube, who starred in all three movies as Calvin Palmer, Jr. was the glue that held it altogether, and the movies encapsulated the experience that many black people have of going to the local barbershop and talking about all the news in the neighborhood. The fact that Ice Cube could help spin this simple premise into a franchise just goes to show how far his reach expands in the business.
Ice Cube's Biggest And Best Contributions As A Writer
Ice Cube doesn’t have nearly as many writing credits as he does acting credits, but the ones he does have are still quite impressive.
Everybody knows that Ice Cube starred in all three Friday movies, and is set to star in the fourth film, Last Friday as Craig Jones. But what a lot of people don't know is that Ice Cube also wrote the script for every movie in the series. It's said that Ice Cube wrote the original Friday with his friend, DJ Pooh, because he was tired of all the movies at the time that were showing the depressing aspects of the black experience, and he wanted to show a more humorous side. And he succeeded!
All About the Benjamins
Writing, acting, and producing this buddy action comedy that also stars Mike Epps, Ice Cube pretty much did it all with this movie outside of directing it (that credit goes to Kevin Bray). All About the Benjamins is notable since it shows that Ice Cube could not only deftly handle movies with comedic elements, but also an action film as well. And a fun one at that.
Ice Cube As A Director
Ice Cube has only directed twice—Once a movie, and one episode for 30 for 30 about the Oakland Raiders. But his directorial debut is actually good enough that I don’t understand why he hasn’t directed again.
The Players Club
Ice Cube wrote, produced, starred in, and directed this movie about a single mother who tries to pay for college by stripping in the local Player’s Club. It’s meant to be a comedy, as it also stars Jamie Foxx and Bernie Mac, but it’s also kind of dark, getting into the seedier aspects of the strip club lifestyle. Roger Ebert actually called it a “gritty black version of Showgirls” (while giving it 3 out of 4 stars). But I actually think that’s a bit off, since it isn’t nearly as campy, and it’s not supposed to be, either. Ice Cube wouldn’t it let to slide into that territory. If you haven’t seen it yet, give it a look. I’d definitely say that it’s better than Showgirls.
Ice Cube As A Producer
Outside of acting, Ice Cube’s next biggest presence in Hollywood is definitely behind the scenes as a producer. Some of the projects he helped get off the ground were for TV shows that were based off of his movies, like Barbershop: The Series, and Friday: The Animated Series. But there are also many, many more movies out there that exist because Ice Cube decided to get behind them. Here are just two of those movies.
While Ice Cube helped produce movies before Next Friday, most notably the first Friday, Next Friday was important because it was the first film produced underneath his own production company, Cube Vision (Or CubeVision, no space). Cube Vision would go on to produce a number of other films that Ice Cube starred in, but the crazy thing is just how much larger the production company got after Next Friday.
If the stories hold true, then Cube Vision will also be working with Disney to produce another musical version of Oliver Twist. So, yeah, the man who once famously said ‘F the police' is now working behind the scenes with the family-friendly Disney company to help produce a Charles Dickens classic. I don’t know Ice Cube personally, but I could imagine him nodding and saying, “Today was a good day” to that kind of news.
Are We There Yet?
Speaking of family-friendly, who would have ever thought that Ice Cube would help produce a film for the entire family? Are We There Yet? and its sequel Are We Done Yet? are goofy, harmless movies that feature a lot of slapstick humor and even some fart jokes. The series is important though since it shows that Ice Cube was willing to broaden his resume to the extent that his street cred didn’t even really matter anymore. Ice Cube had gone full Hollywood, and he really hasn’t turned back ever since. And producing and starring in Are We There Yet? was probably that turning point in his career.
Ice Cube As A Musician
And yes, Ice Cube’s music has of course been featured in a number of soundtracks. But instead of breaking down each one, I thought I would just go through some of his bigger contributions. There’s “How to Survive in South Central,” which jumped off the stellar Boyz n the Hood soundtrack and really set the tone. There’s that great scene in Office Space where they’re downloading the virus into the company’s computer and Ice Cube’s “Down for Whatever” is bumping in the background, which came off his Lethal Injection album.
And who could forget (well, you probably did, which is why I’m reminding you), the bumping “Anybody Seen the PoPo’s?!” on the XXX State of the Union soundtrack? That song was straight fire!
Oh, and I’d be remiss if I left off the actual song “Friday” from the Friday soundtrack where Ice Cube spends a large portion of the music video throwing out his hands in a bedroom. Come to think of it, what’s an Ice Cube movie without an Ice Cube song to accompany it? That’s what I want to know.
Really, once you realize that Ice Cube has dipped his toe into so many different currents, it’s kind of hard to look at him the same way anymore. Yes, Ice Cube’s legacy will always be his music, and for good reason. But once you take off the headphones, just think about all the other projects that Ice Cube has lent a hand to. And if you forget about that, then remember that his son, O’Shea Jackson Jr. is also an actor, so you have another legacy that could potentially span decades. Can I get a yay yaay for that?