Ice Cube, Cypress Hill, Mystikal and others

KDAY Krush Groove

Gibson Amphitheater

April 28, 2012

An invitation to Ice Cube's gangsta nation is tough to decline, even for those on the right side of the law. Which is why at one point during the Krush Groove hip-hop concert on Saturday a yellow-shirted security guard at the front of the stage momentarily turned his back to a blunt-smoking, capacity crowd to accept a brotherly handshake from “the Don Mega” himself.

One the eve of the 20th commemoration of the L.A. Riots, old-school hip-hop station KDAY took a packed room at the Gibson Amphitheater on chronic-powered time warp to the days of the wild west, headlined by Ice Cube and his cohort W.C. ( that's Dub-C, to you). The under card, featuring Cypress Hill, Mystikal, The Pharcyde, Ras Kass and Masta Ace, inspired plenty of mouth-covered “Oh shit!” exclamations.

For the past decade Cube's sets tend to be of the “best of” variety and Saturday was no different. He came on stage to a crowd of hands twisted into “W's,” his jet-puffed 'fro, terminator shades and trademark grimace suggesting little time for pleasantries.

Backed by a Crip-walking, chain swinging W.C. and longtime selector DJ Crazy Toones, the wobbling bass of “Hello” set the tone for a murderous ode to West Coast rap. Choice cuts from Death Certificate, The Predator and Lethal Injection retained their jheri curl bounce.

Though most of the aging acts came on stage with guns blazing, there were moments where the crowd's lackluster reciprocation made the room feel like a senior center (seriously guys, who sits down in the middle of a rap show?). But ticket holders in white tees and Raiders garb snapped into a fine-tuned Greek chorus in the face of “Natural Born Killaz,” “Check Yo Self” and other visceral beats. And aside from Cube trotting out his sons OMG and Doughboy during “She Couldn't Make It On Her Own,” there was really no reason not to be throwing your hands up for the man who gave an entire generation a reason to shout “Yay-yay!” with some feeling.

Cypress Hill realized midway through the set that keeping the audience elevated meant they had to set the example. How, you ask? By getting high as fuck. Fans watched in amazement as B-Real took a lung-filling hit from a six-foot bong on stage before dropping “Hits From the Bong” alongside Sen Dog, his energized partner in crime.

Their live show, recently on display at the duo's SmokeOut Festival in San Bernardino, was actually the most well coordinated set of the night. Songs like “Hand on the Pump,” “Tequila Sunrise” and “Dr. Green Thumb” received some extra spark thanks to beat-heavy battles between the group's dexterous DJ Julio G and percussionist Eric Bobo.

It might have been an overwhelmingly West Coast Crowd, but there was plenty of interest in seeing how New Orleans rapper Mystikal would fare after his six year prison stint. And considering he'll be going back to the pokey next month for a parole violation stemming from a sexual battery and extortion conviction in 2004, he was wise to savor the moment on stage. With his James Brown growl still intact, he unleashed familiar hot and greasy hits including “Short Story” and “Danger,” which kept diehard fans and KDAY listeners bouncing dutifully. And by the time he got to “Shake Ya Ass,” he didn't need to tell the crowd twice.

Personal Bias: Listening to Ice Cube's music before I go to the barber shop still makes me think about asking for a jheri curl. At least for a second.

The crowd: Raider Nation

Random Notebook Dump: Watching a huge guy like W.C. shuffling his feet and C-Walking during the entire set makes me think he should put out an instructional dance video. I'd totally buy it.

Ice Cube set list below.



Natural Born Killaz

Straight Outta Compton (NWA)

Gangsta Gangsta (NWA)

Check Yo Self

Steady Mobbin'

How to Survive in South Central

The Nigga Yo Love to Hate

What Can I Do?

West Up!

Pledge to the “W” /Bow Down

Gangsta Nation (West Side Connection)

The Streets (W.C.)

You Know How We Do It

Bop Gun

You Can Do It

It Was a Good Day

She Couldn't Make It On Her Own (ft. OMG and Doughboy)

I Rep That West

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