I Am The West seems an awfully cocky... hell, outright arrogant title from the same guy that starred in Are We There Yet. It would be effortless to think that Cube went soft since his NWA (and first few solo album) days. War and Peace damn near put the nail in that coffin, and Laugh Now, Cry Later and Raw Footage didn’t do a whole lot to disparage that.
Quietly, however, Cube has stood by and stuck to the business savvy that caused him to realize that something was rotten in the NWA camp to begin with. Laugh at all the kiddie movies you want, but Cube (along with a handful of other OGs like Ice-T) have used their talent and street smarts to escape the abyss of the ghetto - and its stereotypical mentality - and built his own small empire.
In a musical sense, Cube has done it without modern Urban FM Radio, which has passed by all but the newest acts. I Am The West shows that Cube may be a dinosaur to some, but he still has a lot of roar left in him.
The best way to explain Ice Cube’s mentality going in to I Am The West is to let him do it himself:
"For 7 or 8 years now the West Coast has been trying to do music that appeals to the South and Mid-West. The words, 'too West Coast' would be heard throughout the industry whenever our music was played. Even by our own dj's. Left coast MC's were now trying to change their sound to cater to all the followers. We lost our way. Thank God for b-boys like Snoop, The Game & WC for keeping the West alive, but we were all guilty of over reaching. No more. At least not from me. I do it how I feel it; not how I think it should be done. Radio fucked us up. I hate the politics at radio. I don't know who to pay to get my shit played. Having a hot song is not enough. Ridiculous."
The record takes a minute or two to really get in to the groove. The intro “A Boy Was Conceived” gives way to the proper opening track “Soul On Ice”, which is more call-and-response hooks than actual content. The latter track is Cube warming up, for “Life In California” is where he really digs in to the current state of the art: