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[Review] Ice Cube @ Brisbane Entertainment Center, Brisbane 28/03/23

Review By Elizabeth Sharpe

With this legendary line up of unmistakable hip hop superstars, this was always going to be a night to remember!  Not going to lie; I parked, got out of my car, and already had an unmistakable scent wafting my way – this only got more intense as I approached the gates of the venue.  One thing was for sure – despite the heavy security presence and the venue staff’s obvious concerns, this event was deemed 420-friendly by the punters.  DJ Total Eclipse of New York's The X-Ecutioners was on stage warming up the eager crowd as I entered the auditorium.  He’s a legend and definitely the perfect hype-man for such a night!

The Game’s inclusion on this line up was cancelled sadly due to visa issues, however a perfect replacement Australian support was announced soon after – A.B. Original!  As the first support act of the evening, A.B. Original, comprised of rapper, Briggs and his emcee counterpart, Trials – in my opinion, are THE indigenous force to be reckoned with!  I’ve always held a strong belief that those who think music and politics shouldn’t mix are kidding themselves and I love and respect that A.B. Original are often at the forefront of some of the nation’s most critical cultural discourse, emulated throughout the bangers performed during this set. Much to the crowd's delight we heard the likes of Bad Apples, January 26, 2 Black 2 Strong, and the latest catchy track, King Billy Cokebottle.  Refreshingly and unapologetically forward with both their lyrical content and their hard hitting bass-enforced stage presence. I’ve seen them rock a few stages now and will never grow tired of watching their high energy sets.

This is the first time ever that I’m seeing Cypress Hill live and I can’t tell you how excited I am for them to step out on stage.  I have high (pun not intended) hopes and the nostalgic feels have got me buzzin’ (pun also not intended!) Eric Bobo gets up of stage first and takes his place behind the drums which are laden with appropriate greenery. Sen Dog and B-Real burst out and they get straight into it with a medley of favourites including the iconic I Wanna Get High and Hits From the BongB-Real is very fittingly smoking one of the fattest joints I’ve seen since my late teens, a time when uncoincidentally Cypress Hill were often the soundtrack for some crazy fun times.

Seemingly from out of nowhere, a giant inflatable spliff begins bouncing throughout the crowd. The light-heartedness and comedic value of this is more than appreciated by the crowd as to is the fact that the set list chock full of quintessential stoner hip hop jam.  They bring out all our favourites like When the Shit Goes Down and Rock Superstar and then close out their dynamic set with the 1993 hit, Insane In The Brain.

While Cypress Hill could have easily been the headliner tonight, that pleasure is afforded to the one and only Ice Cube.  Imagery begins to roll up on the big screen and the spoken word lyrics of What Is A Pyroclastic Flow? begin to play…

“What's the definition of a pyroclastic flow
That's what happens when a volcano blow
That's what happens when Ice Cube starts to flow
Red hot lava mixed with saliva
Pulverising everything in its wake
Nothing can survive a pyroclastic flow
And no one will survive this one.”

Way to set the scene!! Ice Cube explodes into the arena with Natural Born Killaz with exactly the level of attitude you would expect from one of hip hop’s ultimate supremes. After Hello, he takes a moment to acknowledge the audience – “I really appreciate you all coming out tonight. Some people might say that Ice Cube hasn’t “got it” any more. To those that say that…YOU BETTER CHECK YOURSELF BEFORE YOU WRECK YOURSELF!” Classic segue into Check Yo Self!

Ice Cube proclaims (many times throughout the set) that this is the “loudest mother fucken crowd in Australia” – while this could be a crowd-appeasing statement for them, I’d easily say that it’s the loudest crowd I’ve ever experienced at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre for sure! And when they say this show is sold out, they mean it – not a single seat is spared!  They’ve even opened up sections I sometimes see blocked off and unused.  It’s nuts!

There’s a decent amount of Ice Cube taking the time out for acknowledgement of the crowd throughout his set and audience engagement is at 110%.  At a few points every single person is throwing up their “W’s”, especially for Gangsta Nation, and the comradery is palpable.

After Gangsta Rap Made Me Do It, “We’re gonna start hitting the serious stuff so if you got a bad heart or gangsta shit makes you nervous – you better hit the exits right now.” By this, Ice Cube means the likes of Straight Outta Compton, after which he recalls fond memories of working alongside Dr Dre and Easy E (RIP) “sets the record straight” about his split from N.W.A. To throw a bit of humour in he transitions into No Vaseline – the original diss track! 

He closes out the epic set with the suitable It Was A Good Day.  You’re damn right it was!  Ice Cube is ageless and his name is unquestionably synonymous with the hip hop genre itself.  This live show, indeed the entire line up, was entertainment plus and gave more than the face value of tickets.  I wouldn’t hesitate to see this legend again… and again.

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