Although the 17-track Greatest Hits covers all phases of Ice Cube's solo career in an extremely balanced fashion, it isn't quite the last word on one of the most seminal figures in hardcore and gangsta rap. It is definitely a worthwhile purchase, since it collects all the best singles from Cube's more uneven latter-day efforts; there are also two new cuts (although "In the Late Night Hour" has a lot of rewritten N.W.A. rhymes) and a couple that have never appeared on an Ice Cube album: the soundtrack contribution "We Be Clubbin'" and the Westside Connection single "Bow Down" (which are nice for collectors but not all that essential). That occasional filler makes it all the more frustrating that the classic "Dead Homiez" is inexcusably nowhere to be found, and that it apparently wasn't possible to license Cube's duet with Dr. Dre on "Natural Born Killaz." Selection issues aside, the singles from the post-Predator era prove that in his best moments, Cube could be a credible radio-crossover artist and keep up with contemporary production trends. As a storyteller (a facet of his work that's underrepresented here), Cube had a knack for keenly observed detail, as evidenced on "Once Upon a Time in the Projects" and his laid-back masterpiece "It Was a Good Day." Still, it doesn't quite add up to a truly classic compilation. Perhaps the problem is that while Greatest Hits is a fine, listenable portrait of Ice Cube the sometime hitmaker and full-time hip-hop celebrity, it doesn't completely capture the provocative, incendiary qualities that made him an icon in the first place (for that, listeners will have to go back to AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted and Death Certificate). For a fully fleshed-out picture of Cube's career, though, Greatest Hits is a very good place to go. ~ Steve Huey, Rovi
Track samples provided courtesy of iTunes
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