In 22 Jump Street, you play a cop for the second time this year. Has your attitude toward the constabulary changed since your N.W.A. hit “F-ck tha Police”?
Not really. I still hate bad cops. I hate cops that are corrupt. I always liked good cops that come and do what they are supposed to do. For these roles I just think about all the cops that messed with me and my friends growing up and all the stupid stuff they said to us.
You’re also angry a lot. I’ve been analyzing your mad face. It’s all in the eyebrows.
I’ve always been accused of looking mad, even when I don’t feel mad. The eyebrows just do that. I think I have the best scowl in the movies, me and Jack Nicholson. He got more time in the game than me, so I’ll give it to him.
How do you stay credible as an anti-authority rapper and make family-friendly stuff like Are We There Yet?
I wouldn’t consider myself anti-authority. I’m antipoverty, I’m anti–rich and poor. I just be myself. Success has made me a calmer person personally, but I still got a lot of people I know who suffer and don’t have what they need to get through, and it really pisses me off.
You grew up in South Central L.A., but I imagine your kids have known very little deprivation. How do you ensure they don’t end up entitled?
I don’t mind them feeling entitled. We’ve been on the bottom of the barrel so long, just to have anybody in my generation or in my family that feels entitled means we’ve done something. My sons are well grounded. Their cousins and friends are regular people that don’t have a lot.
When did you introduce your music to your kids?
As young as they can sit in the car and roll with me. If I’m listening to my demo, they listening to my demo.
Do your kids use a lot of curse words?
Sometimes, but you know all kids got crazy language. I know kids cuss, they do their thing, but I tell my kids, Don’t do it in earshot of any adults or you’re in trouble. No bad language in the house.
In a new song, “Everythang’s Corrupt,” you rap about being broke. How can you do that and be so wealthy and successful?
What do you mean? I’ve never just sung for me. I’ve never just rapped for me. If I just rapped for me, I would be on an island somewhere, just happy with myself. I rap for people who can’t rap, people who can’t say these things, people who are going through it.
Why did you include a shot from the capture of Osama bin Laden in the video?
That image has to do with fighting a war sitting in the comfort of an air-conditioned spot 8,000 miles away. It shows the time we are in and how dangerous the future will be.
How is the Obama presidency going?
Obama reminds me of the black kid at a white school that don’t nobody want to play with. That’s fine–he goes in there and does his thing, does what he can.
Do you get hit up for political donations?
Sometimes, but I’m not really into the political game. As far as paying politicians and stuff like that, I’m into “You do your job and I’ll do mine.” Politicians not going to do more with my money than I can to help whatever cause or whatever situation I want to help.
Do you ever wish you could go back in time and choose a less square name?
I’m not really a square–I am a cube.
A cube is just a square in three dimensions.
The three dimensions are the key.
This appears in the June 23, 2014 issue of TIME.
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