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).
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.