Ice Cube comes to Bourbon Street

If Ice Cube's career is any indication, the life cycle of a rapper is highly unpredictable.

One day you're protesting police brutality, and 20 years later you're playing cute for the "Ramona and Beezus" set.

Still, his legacy as one of the pioneers of gangsta rap is cemented, and he's sold millions of albums, including several certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. On Monday, he'll perform at Bourbon Street.

Ice Cube, whose real name is O'Shea Jackson, first came to prominence in the late 1980s as part of controversial group N.W.A.

With "Straight Outta Compton, "[Expletive] tha Police," and "Gangsta Gangsta," the group became not just advocates for freedom of speech in music but perceptive chroniclers of life in urban Los Angeles.

He broke off from the group and released two successful solo albums before dropping "The Predator" in 1992, an album that commented on racial strife in California and that fortuitously arrived within months of the explosive riots over the Rodney King case.

Since the mid-1990s, he also made the transition to movies, first in the John Singleton classic "Boyz n the Hood."

Lately though, he's has been making strides toward becoming rap's Steve Martin, starring in a pair of movies about beleaguered daddies dealing with their rambunctious kids, "Are We There Yet?" and "Are We Done Yet?"

In September, he released a new album, "I Am the West," which opened at No. 22 on the Billboard 200 list. You might say, it'd been a long time since "It Was a Good Day." He just finished a tour with Snoop Dogg, and is now touring on his own with the album. He last performed in the region in July, at Jiffy Lube Live, with Limp Bizkit.

When the rapper performs at Bourbon Street, he will inevitably perform new, little-known songs like "I Rep the West." But the show will also include material from his N.W.A days.

And if you're a purist and like him rated R, this should be a worthwhile show. If it isn't, just know that "Boyz n the Hood" is on instant watch on Netflix.

Ice Cube performs Monday at Bourbon Street, 316 Guilford Ave. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25. Go to

Erik Maza