Ice Cube fans and watchers have been spoiled. As a linchpin of the N.W.A crew, he changed the face of hip-hop by ushering in the age of the gansta rapper. As a solo artist, his white-hot urgency (as in ”F — Tha Police” or ”The Nigga Ya Love To Hate”) has been a lightning rod for controversy and attention. However, on his fourth solo joint, Lethal Injection, Cube seems strangely tame, his rage almost gangsta formulaic. Sure, his familiar pit bull baritone is in full effect on uptempo tracks like ”Ghetto Bird,” but as soon as the producers slow it down, Lethal’s energy level drops to decidedly non- fatal levels. And as loose and funky as the bass and drum get, they’re not abrasive enough to push Ice Cube’s voice to the point where every single syllable demands attention.
Compounding these problems is Cube’s detachment: He sounds more comfortable in the third person than the first and doesn’t say anything new in either. Lethal’s not a bad rap album, it’s just not a great Ice Cube album-which is something a glum hip-hop nation needs right now. B