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POP MUSIC | Record Rack

'Peace' Does Best When It's on Warpath

*** ICE CUBE "War & Peace Vol. 2 (The Peace Disc)" Priority

March 19, 2000|SOREN BAKER

Ice Cube strays from the "Peace" agenda of his latest collection by including a number of incendiary cuts. This return to his angst-filled roots has seemingly reinvigorated the Los Angeles rapper, who has been criticized over the last several years for abandoning his political platform in favor of dance songs.

As he did on 1998's "War & Peace Vol. 1 (The War Disc)," Cube boasts of starting gangster rap here, but it's not his history that's worth noting. It's that he's still making quality hard-core music, as evidenced on such brutal selections as "Hell Low" (with fellow N.W.A members Dr. Dre and MC Ren) and "The Gutter S---" (with Jayo Felony, Gangsta and Squeak Ru).

Cube blasts shady music industry tactics on "Record Company Pimpin'," then urges youths to educate themselves and build better relations with the older generation on "Until We Rich." Worthy production from Dre, Sean "Puffy" Combs, Battlecat and others varies dramatically, shifting from punishing to radio-friendly, from funky to soothing. There's definitely some filler on the 17-cut collection, but Ice Cube remains one of hip-hop's most insightful and important artists.

*

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent). The albums are due in stores Tuesday.

Hear the Music

* Excerpts from Ice Cube's "War & Peace Vol. 2 (The Peace Disc)" and other releases are available on the World Wide Web. Point your browser to: http://www.latimes.com/soundclips

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