A different kind of hustle: Ice Cube and Dr. Dre

Former NWA member and “Are We There Yet?” star Ice Cube is set to appear in a film remake of 21 Jump Street with Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum. The idea of a rapper from a late eighties doing an adaptation of a show from the late eighties seems a little stale, but Cube had been doing movies for almost as long as he’s been a rapper, and he’s something of a box office draw. It’s been interesting to watch Cube go from jheri-curled militant to Hollywood hustler–he’s done some silly family films, but he’s also kept an eye on culture, producing race-centered reality show “Black. White.” and still putting out albums (for better or worse).

Meanwhile, NWA alumnus Dr. Dre made an appearance on the Grammy Awards show this Sunday, performing with Eminem. Dre has kept a relatively low profile, producing hits for other artists and promising to release Detox, an album that’s been nearly a decade in the works, this month.

Both rappers have spent the past two decades fighting against, then shaping, mainstream American culture: Cube with movies like Friday and Barbershop, Dre with his protégés Snoop Dogg and Eminem. At a time when trends are cycling in and out of favor at lightning speed, these two men have managed to change with the times. There used to be a time when older rappers retired from the game. Now, they just diversify–Jay-Z and Diddy have built empires with hip-hop foundations, but neither mogul were the threat to white suburban teens that NWA was. Seeing Dre in a Dr. Pepper commercial or Cube in a comedy flick is a reminder of what they once stood for–and how they’ve both kept up their hustle.