Ice Cube for “Friday After Next”

Ice Cube is in a relaxed mood when we meet to chat about “Friday After Next,” the third film in the popular comedy franchise, this one written solely by the rapper himself. The film’s release marks quite the year for Cube whose ensemble film “Barbershop” was a surprise hit, by critics and audiences.

But it did have its detractors, with the Reverend Jesse Jackson up in arms over its politically incorrect comments on black American history. For Ice Cube, it’s a storm in the proverbial tea cup but unapologetically defends the film and the issues it raised. “Some people just cannot just leave they’re airs out the doors, you know” says Cube, in a veiled reference to Jackson.

“They’re always looking for something to be negative about or to figure out why this movie isn’t good for some four-year-old kid or something, you know, but it’s not done for that, you know, it’s done to laugh at.” Cube’s message to Jackson and his ilk is “To relax. Nobody is exact, you know, if you could talk about those guys. These people we talked about in the movie are not above comment. It was done in the movie by one character and everybody else jumped on his case for doing it, so it was just unfair and disappointing.”

At the same time as Cube was attacked by REVEREND Jackson, Samuel L. Jackson made his now famous remark that he would never act with a rapper on screen. Though the actor has back peddled since then, Cube nonetheless found Jackson’s remarks equally unfair, “because you can’t fault somebody because of where they come from; it’s not where you’re from it’s where you’re at; If a person got the chance to do it, ya do it. There are some rappers that can’t act and some actors who can’t act, so what’s the difference. If Samuel Jackson looks at people like myself, I’m takin’ no jobs from nobody. You know, I’ve given jobs, provided jobs, provided careers and he himself, has enough influence to produce some of these movies that he’s in, to hire some of his friends, like I hire MY friends, you know what I’m sayin’? So it’s just all about, not just sitting here throwin’ rocks and throwin’ stones, but doin’ something about it, instead of sayin’ what he’s not goin’ do, he should say what he IS goin’ do. When producing his next movie, make sure that some of these classically trained actors get a job. That’s what I’d do.”

Cube does put his money where his mouth is. Take his latest film, Friday After Next. “Lots of my friends are in that movie, on both sides of the camera.” It is also a different kind of comedy to the more socially satiric Barbershop. The third in the popular Friday franchise, Cube wrote this Christmas-themed script because he “felt that it was the right time to do another one. We had a good idea as far as the whole Christmas theme and you know, bringing Craig and Day- Day back in the hood and I just thought that it was right.”

Cube adds that “we wouldn’t take away from the first one or the second one – this movie could stand on its own and the bottom line with this movie is it’s just having fun. It’s not a social commentary like Barbershop. It’s kind of letting your hair down a little bit and going on this crazy one day ride with Craig and Day- Day.” In the film, Craig and Day-Day have finally moved out of their parents’ houses and into their own crib. The cousins work nights at a local mall as security guards. When their house is robbed on Christmas Eve they team up to track him down.

As the writer of the script, Cube made sure that Craig has his romantic interlude. In this case, he becomes close to the beautiful K.D. Aubert. Perhaps romantic isn’t the right word. “I think Friday movies they have a hint of what most movies have, that girl and boy chemistry, but it’s not a whole, to me, romantic, sex, love thing; that kinda thing is secondary. I really like all ways in all three of those movies, just kinda brushed the surface with it, more than diggin’ in and making it an issue, you know?”

But let’s be honest about this. He DID write the script and made sure there was a pretty girl in there somewhere. “Yeah,” he laughingly concedes. I mean I knew when I wrote it that whoever played that character had to be fine. So those are the little perks you get when you write the script.”

Acting isn’t the only thing on Cube’s mind. He still loves his music and is about to change record labels, arguing that his next album “could possibly be my best record.” Asked if the acting has tended to overshadow his music, Cube recalls having been “with a kind of inadequate company and their priority wasn’t really like a top of the music game. I always felt like I was always with the Clippers, so I want to be with the Lakers now,” he says smilingly. Let the Games begin.