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Westside Connection 

Terrorist Threats

For those old enough to remember and impartial enough to admit, way before 2Pac waged all-out assault on just about every East Coast rapper, exacerbating hip hop's rank East vs. West beef, the trio known as Westside Connection had already drawn first blood.


While Shakur was still in jail on sexual assault charges (with a CD out featuring mainly East Coast production), the L.A.-based trio consisting of Ice Cube, Mack 10 and W.C. were making songs like "Bow Down," telling East Coast rappers to do exactly that.


Cube, a highly respected rap general from his days rapping -- and later warring -- with the legendary N.W.A, made asinine assertions throughout various magazines that hip hop started in L.A., not the Bronx. Meanwhile, the rest of the group were ultra-defensive about comments New York rappers were making about how G-Funk West Coast gangsta rap was destroying the art.


That argument culminated in Chicago-based (but East Coast-influenced) rapper Common declaring war on Cube through his song "The Bitch in Yoo" -- a song that would make the current Nas vs. Jay-Z and 50 Cent vs. Ja Rule beefs look like kiddie-card games of "I declare war." Common basically assassinated Cube's rap career with that song, and it's telling that Terrorist Threats is Westside Connection's first release since its 1996 debut.


But where Cube's rap life tanked, his movie career has banked. Movies he's starred in, such as Boyz 'N the Hood, Friday and Barbershop, are classics with just about every social strand of black folks, and even with a few pockets of white folks. Cube has already demonstrated crossover appeal by appearing in movies like Ghosts of Mars and Three Kings, which he starred in with George Clooney ... which is why it's hard to accept his gangsta-posturing on Terrorist Threats. He does movies with George Clooney, for 'Pac's sake!


Cube's new foes are no longer East Coast rap conservatives. Now he's going after gray-haired actors and civil-rights reverends. On the song "Lights Out" Cube raps, "So you can tell Samuel L. / I'ma keep actin' / you can even tell that mothafuckin' Jesse Jackson / pay your child support / keep your payments up / put a rubber on / and don't fuck wit' us." It's a clapback for the lashing Jackson gave for comments made in Barbershop about Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King that he took offensively.


Surprisingly, though, Terrorist Threats is a solid effort. The first cut, "Call 9-1-1," exhibits lyrical performances that show that these geriatric gangstas haven't lost a step -- Cube delivers one of his strongest verses since his early-'90s Death Certificate CD. The highlight of the CD, easily, is the song "So Many Rappers in Love," a hilarious rip on the current rap trend of doing love songs while still attempting to remain thuggish. It's a song that rappers like Ja Rule, Loon and Fabolous are definitely gonna wanna take issue with, since that's the bulk of their material.


Terrorist threats it's anything but. Still, it will assure rap fans they are capable of exhibiting gangsta formations, if they must, without offending a whole coast.



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