Straight to it – how much money would it take for you to make peace with Dr Dre and reform NWA?
Come on, there must be a record exec out there with a big bag of cash on the table?
Well, nobody has offered me no money yet. You know what, the thing is a lot of people have got to come together from a lot of different areas to make it happen. So…
But you would consider it?
I really don’t think anyone has carved up the formula of how a record would work. It could never be done until someone can make the whole thing make sense for everybody involved.
When you first set out with NWA in the late ’80s, did you think you’d still be around in 2006?
Oh yeah. I definitely did. Where I came from, failure was not an option. I might have struggled here and there, but I’ve made a lot of good records, and that’s what it’s all about. It’s no surprise to me at all.
You’re a very angry man, what do you do to relax?
I’m relaxed all the time. All. The. Time. You know, my common day chillin’ is just sitting around my home doing nothing. I just stay home, handle my business over the phone and just kick it with my kids and family. I most definitely take the time to smell the roses.
Do you have any surprising hobbies like golf or windsurfing?
Nah, I’ve been creating music since I was 14, and you know that in a way is my hobby. Everything else that I do, like my movies, is my work. A little basketball game every now and then doesn’t hurt anybody, but I’m so into what I’m doing right now I put all my energy into it. Realise this: you only get out what you put into shit.
You lay into Arnold Schwarzenegger on your new album…
Why do you hate Arnie?
He pisses me off just by the fact that he is the Governor of California. That’s enough. You know, that man should just focus his shit on California and what he’s going to do about poverty. It’s rabid in the inner city. He needs to be worried about that, not anything on a national or global level. You’ve got to realise, there’s a lot of money in California but it suffers from economic greed. Nobody wants to give up their piece of the pie, so nobody can live real good without resorting to killing each other. That’s why Schwarzenegger made the album.
But as a budding action movie star, he must be a bit of a role model to you?
Well, I don’t know about a role model but I am a fan of some of his movies.
Could you take him in a fight?
Would you ever consider a move into politics yourself?
No, never. To go into politics, you have to consider everybody’s problems. It’s hard for me even to be able to consider my family’s business right now. Most of my people are really suffering, so I can’t concern myself with what’s going on across the street. You can’t help everybody, so I’ll just stick to worrying about what’s going on in my backyard.
Do you think there will ever be a black President?
There’s no telling, but it doesn’t matter who’s in there, you’ve still got to get up and go to work in the morning. All that shit doesn’t concern me or the people in the inner cities. Okay, it matters because of the significance in history, but life is still painful right now and we’ve got black people in positions of power right by the side of the President. Just because the President’s black doesn’t mean he’s going to make the change.
Back to music, why do hip-hop’s A-list love Tim Westwood so much when he’s clearly a tit?
Tim Whatwood? Who’s that? I don’t know this guy. Nah, I’ve never been hip to him. Put me up on him when I’m in England, man.
What do you make of the new breed of gangsta rappers clearly influenced by you and NWA?
I just concentrate on me, they’re no concern to my business.
But what do you make of 50 Cent and The Game banging on about how many times they’ve been shot?
That doesn’t bother me – people have got to do whatever they got to do out there. If that helps you sell records that’s fine for you. I don’t even trip on that kind of stuff. I just do my thing.
Do you actually like any of these guys?
You don’t need to worry about nobody but Ice Cube right now. Listen to what I’m telling you. Homie, trust me, just look out for Cube. I’m going to be here until my tonsils fall out.
When you eventually snuff it, which lyric would you most like to be remembered by?
“Fuck tha police, coming straight from the underground. Young nigga got it bad ’cause I’m brown.”
So you don’t regret any of your more controversial lyrics like the ones in Fuck Tha Police?
Have you ever literally fucked the police?
As in had sexual intercourse with a policewoman? Ha! Ummm, you know, I don’t think so…
But you’ve upset a lot of people over the years…
You don’t care?
Nope. Listen, hip-hop is really just about a moment in time that happens to be recorded. All my music is just about how I felt at a certain point. And, you know, people on the streets don’t give me grief. I get love, man. Nothing but love. People don’t have a problem with me because they know what I’m doing is alright. The stuff I’m saying needs to be said by somebody somewhere and it’s all fun, man…
What about the things you’ve said about Koreans? You called them “Oriental penny countin’ motherfuckers” and said you’ll “mother-fuck” them, then burn their shops down…
I said my piece. I’m not trying to start any international shit, I said what I wanted to say and that’s it. If there’s still a problem, it’s their problem.
Is there anyone you wouldn’t insult?
Nah, the whole world is fair game. Male, female, black, white… Korean. Whatever you are, gay or straight, you’re going to get it. Everybody can be criticised, even myself.
Do you find it odd that white English kids love your music, when the subject matter’s a million miles from their life in Buckinghamshire?
Yeah, that has always surprised me. People halfway around the world interested in the experience of inner-city hip-hop? That’s mad. It’s a good thing, though. Real good.
How long do you think a middle class English chap could survive mooching through the streets of Compton?
Depends on how tough he is inside. Everybody in the ghetto ain’t a tough guy. I ain’t no gangster, I ain’t no bad guy, I ain’t nobody who is going to hurt you. Most of the people in South Central are cool. They survive through pure mental strength, nothing else. There’s a lot of psychological things going on down there. You have to be sharp or you’re in trouble.
How often do you go back?
My family still live in South Central – I’m the only one who made it out. I’ve still got my ties down there, so I go back quite a lot. But it’s not scary, there’s nothing but love for me out there. People want me to sign their CDs and shirts and that, but I don’t have any problems with it. I’m always approachable.
So there’s never a scary moment?
Well, people squeeze me a little too tight sometimes. The craziest fan I ever came across was actually this chick. She was totally obsessed with me and what I do to a mad point. I just wasn’t feeling that, so I slapped a restraining order on her ass.
Do you take security guards everywhere you go?
Nah. Just two or three guys.
Are they armed with guns?
Yeah. When they have to be.
Finally, how many times a day do people say, “I love you Ice T!”?
Quite a lot, but it doesn’t piss me off because T is my homeboy.
Original interview by Lee Coan in the September 2006 issue of FHM UK magazine