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ALBUM REVIEWS / POP

Ice Cube and Friends Make Violent Westside Connection : WESTSIDE CONNECTION "Bow Down"; Priority (**)

November 06, 1996|CHEO HODARI COKER

Ice Cube is among the most insightful and inspirational artists of his generation. As N.W.A.'s primary lyricist, he practically invented the gangsta image and brought a burning political edge to his rage. He later honed it with such sharp, brilliant albums as "AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted" and "Death Certificate."

Now, teaming with rappers Mack 10 and WC as the Westside Connection, the author of the poignant anti-violence songs "Colorblind" and "Dead Homiez" is caught saying, "Gangbangin' will never die--there's too much love," and asking fans to pledge allegiance to the "rag" of the Westside Connection.

It doesn't matter that Cube and company demonstrate lyrical and musical excellence on such songs as "Hoo-Bangin'," "Do You Like Criminals?" and "Gangstas Make the World Go Round." The hip-hop nation is in serious trouble. Tupac Shakur died a violent death and the East Coast-West Coast rivalry has reached troubling levels that go way beyond musical differences. Now, more than ever, rap needs its most forthright voice to lead the art form and its fans out of the muck and mire. It doesn't need him fanning the flames that threaten to consume the entire genre.

*

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).

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