A barbershop talk with Ice Cube and Common | Inquirer Entertainment
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A barbershop talk with Ice Cube and Common

By: - Columnist
/ 12:40 AM April 17, 2016

COSTARS Common (left) and Ice Cube                   photo by Ruben V. Nepales

COSTARS Common (left) and Ice Cube photo by Ruben V. Nepales

LOS ANGELES—It’s been two decades since Ice Cube and Common duked it out in an East Coast-West Coast hip-hop feud so major that Minister Louis Farrakhan [of major mosques in Boston and Harlem] had to step in and broker a truce. Now, the two music stars and actors are appearing together as haircutters in “Barbershop: The Next Cut.”

In the third “Barbershop” installment, the South of Chicago shop of Ice Cube’s Calvin has gone coed, with a batch of new barbers played by Common, Nicki Minaj, Regina Hall, Margot Bingham and Lamorne Morris.


With Cedric the Entertainer and Anthony Anderson reprising their roles alongside Ice Cube, this barbershop is hopping again with lively banter about hot issues, from Bill Cosby to racism, to gun violence.


In separate interviews held on the same day with the two music vets, we talked about a variety of topics.

Ice Cube, in his trademark all-black ensemble, laughed as he chatted about being mistaken for his son, O’Shea Jackson Jr., who played him in the acclaimed “Straight Outta Compton.”

Ice Cube and his fellow NWA members were recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which Gene Simmons decried because the Kiss frontman is against the inclusion of rappers in the roster of inductees. Ice Cube finds himself again in a feud, this time with Gene. They’re now trading barbs,even in social media.

Common, who is known for his shaved head, smiled as he admitted, “I still go to a barbershop when I get the opportunity. I get my hair cut at least two to three times a week because I don’t like my hair to grow the way it does. I don’t like it to grow out. So, my barber probably takes more time shaving me up than some girls take (to have their haircuts). ”

The winner of an Oscar and a Golden Globe for best song (“Glory,” from “Selma”), which he shared with John Legend, added, “People are like, why are you taking so long to get a bald head? But we really care about…There are details to it.”

Excerpts from our “barbershop talk”:


Ice Cube

You and your son O’Shea look alike. Since “Straight Outta Compton” came out, have you been mistaken for him and vice versa?

He is handsome because of me. I take total credit for that. My wife has something to do with it, too. But it’s cool that he was able to step up to that challenge and deliver a great performance, because it could have been a disaster.

He could have gone from being a cool kid who was just spending my money to a guy who was trolling on the Internet and getting people to say, “Keep your day job, just stay as his son and don’t do anything else.” So, it was great that it all worked out.

I was pulling into the Universal Studios lot and this guy was like, “Oh yeah, man! I love listening to you on the radio (ESPN radio, where O’Shea sometimes guests)!” I was like, “That’s my son, man—O’Shea Jackson Jr. I am the father—I am Ice Cube, you know? I have been doing this for 25 years, man. Come on!” He was like, “Oh.”

That was the first time for me that’s been like, who are you? It’s cool, because he is talented, and the world should see what he has to offer and they’re getting a chance to see it. He is in a process of landing his second movie. So, it’s great.

Are you still an angry man as you were in your NWA days?

Yeah, I am angry about the same things I was angry about when I was younger. But it’s not for personal reasons. It’s more for people who can’t speak for themselves. I made it out, but I am just one person.

If I were selfish, I’d be like, yeah, I made it, what is wrong with you all? [There’s] nothing wrong with America and you can just pull yourself up by your bootstraps and that dumb s***.

But I need to speak for people who are still struggling, who still run into those racial barriers. If I didn’t do things that people liked in entertainment, would I be here right now? Probably not. So, I put that into perspective.

There are still people who need to be spoken for. I am mad that they have to go through it, because they don’t have to. It’s just the way that the system has been set up.

So, it’s all about changing that system. Some people would say I speak from a lofty position, but I wouldn’t feel human if I didn’t speak about things that bother me.

Who are you looking up to among the new generation of filmmakers?

The guy who did “Fruitvale Station” and “Creed,” director Ryan Coogler. I am interested in what he’s going to do next. I believe there are always socially conscious filmmakers out there like Ryan, but it takes a brave studio head to green-light those movies.

Donna Langley had the courage to say, “I want to make this movie (‘Straight Outta Compton’).”  She was the only one who wanted to do it. She has more courage than a lot of the guys out there in Hollywood. That is why I call her the sixth member of NWA.

When hip-hop was taking hold, the word “b*tch” was often used in its misogynistic sense. What is the background behind the frequent use of that word in hip-hop?

I don’t know the true background of it or where it comes from. But it’s always been a part of culture as I have been on Earth. And I have only been here since 1969, so I don’t know everything. But it’s been around. To me, it’s like the N-word. It starts off as this vicious and descriptive thing. Then, it doesn’t sting like it used to; it loses its potency.

A word like “b*tch” is like a knife—you can use it to cut your food or you can use it to cut a person. It’s the same principle. It’s about how it’s delivered, who delivers it. But it’s a word that, at least in my generation, is losing its potency to hurt and sting. Maybe it’s the overuse of it.

But to me, it’s a word that people use as an endearing word, as an insulting word or a punchline. It depends on the intention of the users, why they use it, what they use it for and what it means to them. But it isn’t insulting, like it used to be.

HIP-HOP artists and actors Ice Cube (left) and Common

HIP-HOP artists and actors Ice Cube (left) and Common


We live in a world where, sometimes, there is little common sense. How did you get your name, Common?

Funny you said that, because Common Sense was my initial stage name. I got that name because my mother always used to say, “You should use common sense.”

So, that was the name I came up with. I thought it was something unique. I used it for my first two albums as a musician. Another group existed with the same name, so I had to shorten my name to just Common.

I was mad and upset because I built my name up. You think it’s the end of the world when they’re taking your name away. You got two albums out. But eventually, everybody started to know me as Common, and I felt pretty good about it. I felt like it represented being the everyday person, the common man.

So what does common sense mean to you these days?

It means using your intuition to make decisions that seem like the best thing to do…the right thing to do. Sometimes in survival situations, sometimes for practical situations. But it’s really just (about) using the instinct and knowledge that I have.

So, your mother’s voice is always in your head?

Yes, in many ways (laughs).

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TAGS: common, Ice Cube

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