On Friday, Ice Cube put out a new album. It is called Everythang’s Corrupt, and it is the sort of album that you will want to listen to if you tend to be drawn to late-career albums by middle-aged rappers whose voices trigger Pavlovian enjoyment in your brain. Given that my love of hip-hop largely began with songs like “Fuck the Police” and “Today Was a Good Day” and albums like Death Certificate and AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted, I have to admit a critical bias that precludes me from adequately assessing Everythang’s Corrupt. I would definitely recommend this album to myself, however.
If you are a rap nerd, the most interesting thing about Everythang’s Corrupt is probably getting to listen to Ice Cube and Too $hort rap together on “Ain’t Got No Haters.” If you are not a rap nerd — and probably even if you are one, TBH — the most compelling part of the record is “Arrest the President,” which is exactly what you would assume it is about. On the spectrum of pop-protest songs that I just conjured out of thin air, it falls somewhere between Bright Eyes’s “When the President Talks to God” and YG and Nipsey Hussle’s “Fuck Donald Trump.” Even if you’ve grown tired of protest songs, you should listen to it, and here’s why.
“Arrest the president / You got the evidence / That n—ga is Russian intelligence,” Cube raps in the first verse, which is the sort of thing that everybody from Rachel Maddow to Tom Arnold is telling the American people these days. But unlike Maddow, Arnold, and pretty much every other #Resistance Grifter™ out there, Ice Cube might actually know what he’s talking about.
Anybody who thinks I'd ever support Donald Trump for president. Do me a favor and kill yourself 😵🔫— Ice Cube (@icecube) October 27, 2016
In 2017, Ice Cube and a business partner, Jeff Kwatinetz, founded a half-court, 3-on-3 basketball league called BIG3. The thinking behind the league’s gestation was simple: When NBA players get old, they usually go play in Europe or China, where the competition is less fierce and you can still dominate despite having a bad knee or whatever. But if there were an American alternative that had Ice Cube attached, said aging NBA dudes might decide to stay here instead. After two seasons, the league’s stars include Baron Davis, Mike Bibby, Kenyon Martin, Jermaine O’Neal, and Metta World Peace (fka Ron Artest), and some teams are coached by even older NBA legends like Julius Erving, Charles Oakley, and Gary Payton.
Sadly, the path from Ice Cube to Donald Trump does not run through Metta World Peace. Instead, it runs through Ahmed Al-Rumaihi, a Qatari businessman who it turns out has ties to his nation’s government and might actually be one of its intelligence operatives. As BIG3 was getting off the ground, Al-Rumaihi and a business partner approached Cube and Kwatinetz about investing in the league, initially promising around $11.5 million in capital but allegedly only paying around half of that.
As a result of this business dispute, Cube and Kwatinetz are currently suing Al-Rumaihi for a shitload of money ($1.2 billion). His lawyers have worked to place many of the documents related to the case under seal, in part because Cube and Kwatinetz are convinced that Al-Rumaihi only wanted to invest in BIG3 because he wanted to gain access to Kwatinetz’s former business partner, who just so happens to be the pustulous walking corpse known as Stephen K. Bannon. Why Al-Rumaihi, the alleged Qatari operative, might want to chat with Bannon, the alleged human who was once the chief strategist of Donald Trump’s White House, is also simple: Trump loves Saudi Arabia, which hates Qatar, and Qatar would love Trump to love them instead.
While the documents available in the BIG3 case don’t give the full story, another lawsuit — this one filed by former RNC fundraiser/Trump goon Elliott Broidy, who is convinced Qatar hacked his emails and leaked them to the press — lays out the full story. A document filed by Broidy’s attorneys quotes an affidavit from Kwatinetz stating, “there were numerous occasions during the 2017 [Big3] season, where Mr. Al-Rumaihi would bring up Mr. Bannon’s name to me and comment about Mr. Bannon’s political positions, his views on the blockade [of Qatar by Gulf states], the Trump administration’s position toward Qatar, and he persistently inquired about wanting to meet with Mr. Bannon.”
The document further quotes Kwatinetz, who said in part, “I was appalled. Mr. Al-Rumaihi laughed and then stated to me that I shouldn’t be naive, that so many former Washington politicians take our money, and stated ‘do you think [former National Security Advisor Michael] Flynn turned down our money?’” Later, per The Washington Post, it was revealed that Al-Rumaihi was one of the many, many people who visited Trump Tower in the weeks following Trump’s election, which makes this feel all the more ominous.
The main question I have here — aside from “Why the fuck was Ice Cube running a basketball league with Steve Bannon’s former business partner?” — is this: Does Ice Cube know who else took Qatar’s money? Did Trump not take their money because he’d already taken someone else’s money? Was that someone, as per “Arrest the President,” Russia?
Recently, a judge dismissed many of Cube and Kwatinetz’s claims against Al-Rumaihi, who’ll probably be able to get out of everything else because the State Department just granted him diplomatic immunity. On the other hand, Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller is arguing for an extremely light sentence for former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, who was caught lying to the FBI and then immediately told Mueller everything he wanted to know as soon as he asked. One of Mueller’s memos praising Flynn’s helpfulness in his investigation is heavily redacted — at least 55 lines of the six-page document are blacked out. Meanwhile, know what takes only a few characters to type out?
ICE CUBE WAS RIGHT ALL ALONG. MAYBE.
In the real world, not the imaginary one where Donald Trump personally met with Russian spies on the moon to steal the election, Ice Cube does not hold the key that will lock Trump in jail forever, because that key probably does not exist. On the other hand, allow me to leave you with some lyrics from the third verse of “Arrest the President,” in which Ice Cube draws upon yet more of his secret knowledge of the inner workings of the Trump Administration:
Let’s meet at the White House / Run in and turn the lights out / Man, they treat it like a traphouse / These motherfuckers never take the trash out / They just cash out and mash out
Your move, Trump.