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Ask rapper turned movie star/producer what he’s thankful for, he’ll quickly tell you the architectural design class he enrolled in as a senior as Woodland Hills High School years ago. It was in that class that Cube, whose real name is O’Shea Jackson Jr., learned how to succeed in the game of life.
“My 12th grade teacher drilled in my head that everything needs a plan,” Cube, 37, explained to the LA Sentinel. “You can’t build anything unless you have the plans first so I always come up with a plan and then try to execute the plan and hopefully we’ll have results like this.”
“By results like this,” Cube means his highly successful Hollywood career which now has Revolution Studios & Sony Pictures moving heaven and earth to insure he and his Cube Vision Production team remain on its roster of hit makers. Despite making his feature film debut “Boyz In the Hood,” creating the classic “Friday” series, starring in “Barbershop I and II,’and a host of 30 other feature films, Cube didn’t catapult into mainstream big screen success until 2005’s ‘Are We There Yet.’
The surprise hit grossed more than 100-million at the worldwide box office and DVD sales were through the roof. ‘Are We There Yet’ was such mega hit and that’s why the sequel, ‘Are We Done Yet’ opens in theatres this week.
“The first one was a kids movie, this one is pure family fun,” said Cube. ‘Are We Done Yet’ picks up where the first film dropped off. Nick Persons (Cube) is married to new his wife Suzanne (Nia Long) and her two children eight-year-old Kevin (Philip Daniel Bolden) and 13-year-old Lindsey (Aleisha Allen) and the family dog. Their blended family is now expanding as Nia Long’s character is pregnant with twins on the way.
“Are We Done Yet’ captures the family moving out of Cube’s cramped condo and trying to settle down in their new house and make it a home. Their dream home becomes a costly fixer-upper and all hell breaks lose when Cube hires a wacky contractor played by John McGinley and all the sudden the battle is on.
“This could happen to anybody,” said Cube. “When you hire guys to come work on your house, you’re at their mercy if you don’t know the ends and outs of construction. Contractors are like lawyers, they say they’re there to help, but hey you know.”
When asked if he’s experienced the contractor from hell in his life, Cube told the Sentinel, “I had to threaten a few.” I can’t really see the former NWA rapper going the lawsuit route and neither can he. “If I have to whoop a contractor ass, trust me the lawsuit will be filed against me, it won’t be me filing the suit.”
In the movie, Nick Persons (Cube) attempts to launch a Sports magazine. His plan for the debut cover story: an expose’ on Magic Johnson. First off, you have to know the real Cube outside the movies is a longtime Lakers fan – he’s an even bigger Magic Johnson fan. “I respect what he did in the NBA and I really respect what he’s doing as an entrepreneur,” said Cube. You know you have clout in Hollywood, when you can pay homage to your sports icon and arrange a bit part in your film. Well – Cube has done just that.
For many, it’s still hard to imagine that today’s Ice Cube could possibly be the same guy who was a founding member of the controversial yet influential, FBI-wanted group known as NWA. The hard-core side of Cube remains in his music, the gangsta rap which firmly solidified the West Coast on the rap map, but the softer side or more family friendly side appears and lives at the movies.
Which has many people asking - will the real Ice Cube please stand up? Which persona is closer to the real O’Shea Jackson? “They’re both me,” said Cube. So how does he reconcile the two? “I always look at NWA as us being young screaming for a chance at the American Dream,” explained the married father of four. “We’ve gotten our chance now and we’re runnin’ with it.”
“Every gangsta out there and everybody wants a nice house, picket fence, wife, couple of cars, two point two kids - that’s pretty much all everybody wants,” he said. “We don’t wanna conquer the world. NWA wasn’t trying to conquer the world – we wanted a piece – a fair piece. A nice piece. And we’re getting our piece. But there’s still a lot to say for those who aren’t getting their piece. I still have some of same views, but as an individual – I like to show that we’re civilized.”
Cube also understands in Hollywood whether its movies or music, staying power is key. “We set out making a kids movie that we knew would connect me to a younger audience which is something every person has to do if they want longevity in this business,” added Cube. “People loved the first one, they were pleasantly surprised so why not,” he asked. “I enjoy doing this.”
Face it – Cube of NWA is all grown up, but he’s not about to retire from the rap game. Even while filming this movie, he was on tour – shooting scenes and producing during the week, touring and rappin’ on weekends. Even now, he’s working on his next CD entitled, “Raw Footage” and he’s producing one for his boy, Dub C.
Also in production at Cube Vision is his next film called, “First Sunday.” “Church get ready for Cube,” declared the hip hop star. Cube is working with popular playwright David Talbert and ‘Barbershop II’ director Tim Story on ‘Sunday.’ The trio is in pre-production.
Is he done yet? “Not quite,” Cube says. If this sequel does well, producers (that includes him) have left the door wide open for a third film. “We haven’t wrapped ourselves around the concept yet. I think we should let this one (‘Are We Done Yet’) come out, see if people like it or love it and then talk sequel.”
Cube didn’t want to discuss the possible title. He didn’t want to jinx this one. Imagine Ice Cube worried about bad luck? - Not from someone who clearly has a plan for everything.