Ice Cube performs during Toronto’s Festival of Beer at Bandshell Park on July 28.
In the hierarchy of Black male hairstyles that capture the complex duality of his position in America, none is higher than the Jheri curl. By itself, the hairstyle is a chemical manipulation of one’s God-given curl pattern that creates luxurious, flowing curls. During the 1970s and the late ’80s, Jheri curls were the preferred hairstyle of West Coast gang members, making the mashup of stern-faced violence and soft (possibly even moist), flamboyant curls strange bedfellows. The dichotomy was an opulent disturbance, a menacing luxuriousness. A juxtaposition of wealth framed by violence — both impending and imagined.
A beautiful mess.
Ice Cube and Tucker Carlson are jumbo shrimp.
They are amazingly awful. They are icy hot.
Carlson is the Jheri curl on top of Ice Cube’s head.
It makes no sense. And yet here we are, in the year of our Lord Beyoncé, with the sentient soggy boat shoe and the man who gave us “Fuck tha Police” joining forces to vibrate over their nonconformity.
Recently, Carlson, the perpetually stiff business suit, and O’Shea Jackson, bka Ice Cube, the fitted baseball cap, appeared on video for a conversation about topics like the police, race, inflation, Black people, more race, cancel culture and race.
Cube labels himself an independent thinker and believes that this scares most in the mainstream, who are locked into the matrix of sheep thinking. He believes that because he’s defiant in his independent thought, he’s finding himself on the outside looking in with most conversations.
“I tried to go on ′The View’ — they didn’t have me on ′The View,’” Ice Cube told Carlson.
“A few of the [hosts] … just really didn’t like where I was coming from,” he continued. ”That’s what I was told by the producers. I don’t know if the producers was just copping out and using some of the hosts to not have me come on and explain myself.”
It didn’t occur to Cube that “The View” didn’t want anything to do with his unvaccinated ass. Or that they had no use for his quasi-Republican position on politics. According to Cube, the issue was that he’s not willing to “go along to get along.”
See, Ice Cube is a Black man who believes he’s at the unique precipice of free thought. Not quite hotep and not full MAGA, he has what he believes are unconventional thoughts on how Black America can not only survive, but thrive in a two-party system that doesn’t appear to care about Black people’s needs. And this is where Ice Cube isn’t wrong. Democrats take Black women for granted, which is wild when you realize that they are the backbone of the Democratic Party. Black women not only disproportionately vote Democrat, they have actually saved America more than a few times.
But that doesn’t mean you completely abandon the party. Ice Cube seems to believe that cozying up to the opposition — which includes bigots like Tucker Carlson and Donald Trump, the former president turned indictment hound — is the way to Black America’s promised land. But Cube completely misses that those he’s spending time with are partly to blame for why we’re here. Carlson is not an impartial participant; he’s grand wizard No. 1 of pot-stirring a potential race war. He’s built his entire career around saying the things that racists believe while acting as if he’s not a racist.
Like defending the “great replacement” theory but not calling it out by name:
I know that the left and all the little gatekeepers on Twitter become literally hysterical if you use the term ‘replacement,’ if you suggest that the Democratic Party is trying to replace the current electorate, the voters now casting ballots, with new people, more obedient voters from the Third World. But they become hysterical because that’s what’s happening actually. Let’s just say it: That’s true.
Or claiming that “criminal white supremacy … doesn’t exist”:
Or going on and on about his apparent hatred for diversity:
Ice Cube is not a stupid man. He’s one of the few early hip-hop stars who has parlayed a rap career into a successful acting career and turned three-on-three basketball with washed-up NBA players — which could have easily been a laughable exhibition — into something of a sport. So it’s disingenuous for Cube to act as though he’s just sitting across from a journalist and having an exchange of thoughts when Carlson is not only an architect of chaos, but using his platform to spread vicious stereotypes about the people Cube claims to love.
So the two men do the dance — Carlson, the perpetually wide-eyed bigot who acts as if he doesn’t know that Cube has crossed over to the dark side, and Cube, the prophetic lyricist whose narcissism can’t handle that his “Contract With Black America” wasn’t warmly received by Democrats.
Oh, you didn’t know that’s what started it? Then let me take you back. In 2020, Cube created a manifesto born of the Black uprising after the police killings of unarmed Black men, women and children. Cube considered it a living document that would be a start to address, among other things, police and prison reform. Democrats liked the plan but didn’t act on it. However, Trump’s 2020 campaign reached out to Cube to incorporate portions of the CWBA into a document it was working on, called the “Platinum Plan.” While Cube never met with Trump, that didn’t stop the campaign from clout-chasing off Cube’s name.
“Leaders gonna lead, haters gonna hate,” Katrina Pierson, a senior adviser to the 2020 campaign, wrote online after noting that Cube helped with the Platinum Plan. “Thank you for leading!”
Cube then went on a world news tour explaining himself while losing more ground.
“Every side is the Darkside for us here in America,” he tweeted, while defending his work with Trump. “They’re all the same until something changes for us. They all lie and they all cheat but we can’t afford not to negotiate with whoever is in power or our condition in this country will never change. Our justice is bipartisan.”
Except it isn’t. There are limits to this shit. Not everyone is privy to the conversation. What’s saddest about Ice Cube filming an interview and car ride around Los Angeles with Carlson is that he’s not even wise enough to realize he’s being played. The conversation isn’t furthering race relations in this country; it’s actually empowering Carlson’s beliefs about the ineffectiveness of Barack Obama’s presidency and the Black Lives Matter movement. And it’s difficult to hear Carlson call Cube one of the “least obedient entertainers in LA.”
But this is what happens when money grows up. In truth, Tucker Carlson and Ice Cube are just two abundantly wealthy men riding around Cube’s former neighborhood and laughing from the comfort of their chauffeur-driven vehicle. At one point, the two men end up behind a tour bus taking riders through historic movie locations in Los Angeles. It’s a surreal moment, as the back of the bus is emblazoned with photos of a young Cube from his days in the group N.W.A. At one point, Carlson asks if Cube wants to get out and say “hi” to the people on the bus, who are surely his fans.
“No,” Cube says emphatically. “Not unless they want to give us money.”
And there it is, folks. No need to stare longingly for the person Cube used to be, as even he wouldn’t recognize himself. Tucker Carlson and Ice Cube are just two capitalists sharing a moment that doesn’t look like anything we ever thought we’d see, and yet somehow it makes sense.