Clearly, Ice Cube’s six-year sabbatical has placed him in a judicious position to observe the rap game from the sideline, and predictably, he pulls no punches while scoffing at imitators on “Child Support.” But, it’s not just clones that get kicked in the groin by the former N.W.A. member. After firing off some political missives at George Bush on “The Ni–a Trap,” Cube then adds an unsuspecting victim to his list: “Flava Flav with a white girl, that’s whack. Gotta put that ni–a in the back of my Cadillac. Take him to the ‘hood where it’s action packed. Let him know that the target’s still on his back.” Evidently, Ice Cube is still fluent in the edgy rhetoric of hip-hop on the Scott Storch-laced “Why We Thugs,” where he questions America’s sociological system. Like most Ice Cube albums, however, the music is never as important as his tirades. Once you get past the production, you’ll be greeted with the soothing fact that the album divulges a different and more political shift in Cube’s thought process. Take the gangsta fairy tale, “Growin’ Up” for instance, where Cube remembers his early N.W.A days. Oh, it’s N.W.A.! “Them niggas on tour and they comin’ our way. Lil’ Eminem is still tucked away. In that trailer park just bumpin our tape. Jerry Heller tried to make his escape. I had to bounce, while others got raped.” Even when Cube isn’t saying too much he still sounds real dope over choice production. See the gangsta anthem Smoke Some Weed, Doin’ What It ‘Pose 2 Do, and Click Clack, Get Back. He even sounds dope over a Lil Jon beat on Go To Church. Anyone who grew up jheri curl Cube the way I did, rest assured, the real Cube is back. One of the most intelligent, out-spoken and flat out brilliant rappers to ever grip a mic is just that once again. Those who still envision Ice Cube as a gangsta running around with an oozy on every track are way behind the curve. It’s not that the topics he raps about on Laugh Now, Cry Later are less gangsta than the ones he used to rap about on previous albums; it’s just that he’s found a more convincing way to say the same things.