April 7 was a historic day for hip-hop. That evening, Tupac Shakur was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Many of the “Dear Mama” performer’s contemporaries and collaborators held what turned into an unofficial celebration in the form of the Las Vegas West Fest. California heavyweights Rodney O and Joe Cooley, Tha Dogg Pound, DJ Quik, Too Short, E-40 and Ice Cube took fans on a nostalgia-riddled ride at the Orleans Arena, delivering hits that stretched back to 1987 and the occasional shout out to the West Coast hip-hop martyr. It left us with all types of thug feels. Here are a few of them.
Rap isn’t a young man’s sport. The music hype machine is always looking for the freshest face to flaunt as the next musical messiah. There’s always a Lil’ or Young somebody set to change the game. In most cases, those dudes are only good for a hashtag challenge before they fade into the one-hit wasteland with the rest of the iLoveMakonnens. In the media’s quest for the next Drake or Migos, we’re overlooking the fact that the OGs are still untouchable. Too Short, at 50, is still the best at X-rated raps and booty-poppin’ anthems. E-40, 49, is still the slickest wordsmith, with a dizzying delivery and unique lyrical lexicon that should have its own dictionary. Ice Cube, 47, may be a Hollywood funnyguy to your kids, but he’s still the prototypical gangsta—the mean mug that would pave the way for any thugged-out rapper after him. Which brings us to our next point …
Ice Cube, please return to rap. It’s been seven years and counting since his last album. Though it was a snoozer and not nearly as impactful as any of his previous releases, his West Fest performance was a reminder that Ice Cube is the reason many of today’s new crop of rappers exist. If there was no NWA, there would be no Kendrick Lamar. Plus, last year’s overly slept-on “Ain’t That Funkin’ Kinda Hard On You?” by Funkadelic featuring Cube and the young Compton star showed that with the right collaborators, he might just be able to craft another Death Certificate. Focus on more “Jackin’ for Beats” and less Ride Alongs, please.
Give DJ Quik his rightful props. Though Ice Cube may have been the headliner, Quik was the real star. The veteran rapper and producer, who helped pioneer L.A.’s funked-out hip-hop sound, was the only act on the bill to perform with a live band. It turned hits like “Tonite” into jam sessions, giving Quik the freedom to show off his dance moves and freak women in the audience. He gets extra points for opening his set with “Sweet Black Pussy.”
I slow down and let the gold diggers count my spokes pic.twitter.com/BNW8erNudh
— zoneil (@zoneil) April 11, 2017
Too Short will never change, and we wouldn’t want him to. At 50, he’s still as raunchy as ever. He came out with his exceptionally explicit 1987 single “Freaky Tales,” before sharing this fond memory from early in his career: “In 1988, I was riding around in my drop top Cadillac across the Bay Bridge getting my dick sucked.” Of course he’s gotten wiser with age, and he imparted one nugget for women before ending his set with “Gettin’ It”: “How you gonna have a pussy in Las Vegas and be broke?” A question worth pondering, indeed.