Hip-hop legends come to St. Petersburg

Ice Cube talks about touring with De la Soul, LL Cool J and Public Enemy.

mclear@bradenton.comJune 3, 2013 

"Yo, this is Cube."

Ice Cube, the hip-hop pioneer, movie star, television actor, screenwriter and film producer, is on the phone. He's calling from Council Bluffs, Iowa, of all places.

"We're out here for the Kings of the Mic Tour," Cube says.

When he says "we," he's talking about himself, LL Cool J, De la Soul and Public Enemy, all touring the country in one of the biggest old-school hip-hop shows ever assembled.

The tour hits St. Petersburg's Mahaffey Theater on Thursday, June 6.

The tour kicked off May 23 in Tucson. The Iowa show was only a week in.

"It's going good," Cube said. "We've got fathers bringing their sons. It's a cool thing when that happens."

One thing audiences are liking about the shows, he said, is that each of the four acts has a short set, and they all have enough hits to pretty much pack the show with the audience favorites. LL Cool J is headlining with an hour-long set, Cube plays 45 minutes, and De la Soul and Public Enemy perform for a half-hour each.

"Everybody's basically going straight for the jugular," he said. "Nobody's messing around. People don't want to come to a concert and hear all the new (expletive)."

For Ice Cube's part, he's taking audiences on a history through his legendary career, from his days as one of hip-hop's most provocative controversial lyricists to his mainstream stardom.

"I'm doin' a whole lot of my hits, from N.W.A. to Westside Connection to the solo stuff," he said.

The tour has about another month to go -- there are 26 dates in all, and St. Pete is the ninth stop -- and after that Ice Cube's concentrating on the cinematic aspect of his multi-faceted career.

He recently completed a film called Ride Along, an action comedy that co-stars John Leguizamo and Kevin Hart.

And he's still working on a movie about N.W.A. that was originally scheduled to be released last year.

"We're in the process of casting the N.W.A. movie," he said. "Dre's involved, everybody's involved, but we're not going to appear in it. Gary Grey's directing it. It was between him and John Singleton. We knew we wanted on of the two of them to direct it, but John wasn't available. That should be out next year."

Meanwhile, Cube and the other Kings of the Mic are enjoying packing concert venues around the country.

"No doubt," he said. "I'm having a ball. And the audience seems like they're happy. Everybody's getting their money's worth, and that's the most important thing."

Details: 7:30 p.m. June 6, Mahaffey Theater, 401 First Street S., St. Petersburg. Tickets: $49.50-$59.50. Information: 727-892-5767, www.themahaffey.com.

Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-748-0411, ext. 7919. Follow twitter.com/martinclear.

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