Which makes you happier, making music or movies?
Making music makes me happier, but the music business doesn’t make me happy. It’s shady. It’s a bunch of talented people surrounded by untalented people looking to take advantage of them. That’s what the music industry is.
And the film industry isn’t just as bad?
They’re both bad. It’s like comparing two glasses of dirty water. One of them is going to taste better than the other. The movie business is more lucrative. The music business is dying because of piracy. There’s more freedom in making records, but you have to deal with the street. In the movie business, you deal with bureaucracy, boards and the stock market, which determines whether or not you are going to make a movie. It’s more political, which is frustrating, but the product is more rewarding.
Which industry are you more comfortable with as a businessman?
I don’t feel comfortable until the check clears in any business. It’s always about them trying to get you for less and you are trying to get more.
Crossing over from musician to movie star has been much easier for rap artists than rock artists. Why is that?
I think the world of rock seems like a fantasy world. But the rap world is based more in the reality of today. It can be a fantasy world, but it’s not based in that. Rap artists come across as more believable.
Is Hollywood more receptive to black movies now?
I hope so. Just like Spike Lee knocked down the doors for the John Singletons of the world, who knocked down the doors for the Ice Cubes of the world, I hope that we are knocking down doors, too, for the people coming after us.
Were you hurt when Jesse Jackson spoke out against the humor making fun of Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks in your film ”Barbershop”?
I was surprised that it went straight to the media. I would have thought I would have heard about the problem before it was in USA Today. But everybody has his own opinion. I am not surprised that Jesse and some other people didn’t like the movie. Those same people don’t expect us to like everything that they do.
Are you shying away from humor that could be misconstrued in ”Barbershop 2”?
Nope. We’re doing exactly what we did the first time. We’re making a movie about what goes on in a barbershop.
Did your mom take you to the barbershop when you were a kid?
I hated it. All kids hate haircuts. They hurt. The barber has cut a thousand heads, so he’s no easier on your head than he is on the older guys. And you always looked funny afterward.
Do you take your kids to a local barbershop?
A cousin comes to the house and cuts their hair. But they come to the studio with me, and we clown just as much there as the barbershop.
Does anyone call you by your real name, O’Shea Jackson?
Oh, yeah. My family, and fans that are trying to get me to turn around — your real name always gets you. My mother gave me that name because she liked the way it sounded. It sounds Irish, but trust me, black folks don’t think about that kind of stuff.
Does anyone ever confuse you with the actor and rapper Ice-T?
Sometimes people call me Ice-T, and I am pretty sure that he gets the same thing. But we all look alike, right?