As Ice Cube's 2006 Laugh Now, Cry Later was landing in stores, all the chatter was about whether or not Cube was back, and whether or not he could recover from a couple of lackluster solo albums that came out years ago. Did his major contribution to Westside Connection's satisfying 2003 album Terrorist Threats slip everybody's mind and do we have to consider that release "slept on"? Laugh Now picks up right where Terrorist Threats left off, and while Cube does a little "this is why I'm important" posturing on the excellent "Child Support," this isn't a forced "I'm back" effort in the least. After a short intro, Cube goes right for the upper classes' throats with "Guns and Drugs," a track that acknowledges that there was a George Bush in office when he began his solo career, there's a George Bush in office as he returns to it, and he doesn't much care for either. Switching gears, the following club track "Smoke Some Weed" gives everyone the finger in a much less socially conscious manner. The track's rain stick and East Indian vocal loops constructed by producer Budda give the album its most riveting beat, the competition supplied by various upstarts and, surprisingly, Lil Jon, who upstages the heralded Scott Storch and his underwhelming contributions. Lil Jon tweaks his usual crunk juice and blends some West into his South for the low-riding "Go to Church" and "You Gotta Lotta That," both with Snoop. Just as satisfying, "Doin' What It 'Pose 2 Do" is a modern banger that's well aware of the 2006 success of folks like Bun B and Z-Ro. It's only when Cube jumps on the "Stop Snitchin'" bandwagon that he sounds the least bit unnatural. He also scores a lyrical triumph with the title track, but unlike his early classics, Laugh Now stumbles occasionally and fails to keep the momentum going through the whole fourth quarter. This is his first effort on his own independent label, so if the album lacks a little final product-minded polish, it trades it for a homegrown feel that's distinctively direct. Strip a couple redundant tracks and you've got that bitter, edgy, and sharp Cube album you hoped for.
AllMusic Review by David Jeffries
feat: Snoop Dogg