Ice Cube and Tony Hawk Discuss What It Takes to Stay Successful at ComplexCon

Ice Cube and Tony Hawk sat down with Complex Editor-in-Chief Noah Callahan-Bever to discuss what it takes to stay successful in their respective fields.

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It's rare to witness an individual dominate their field decade after decade. It's even more unlikely in rap and skateboarding, two fields where youth traditionally dominates. So how have legends like Ice Cube and Tony Hawk been able to sustain their careers for so long?

This was the question hand during today's ComplexCon panel "Achieving Longevity in the Game," where host (and Complex Editor-in-Chief) Noah Callahan-Bever spoke with Cube and Hawk about how to stay successful in an ever-changing business. Both had a lot of knowledge darts for those looking to follow a similar path.


"Where I come from, the worst thing you can do is go into a game you don't know how to play," Cube said in regards to learning early that he had to look out for himself in the music business. He described his time with N.W.A., when he was writing Eazy-E's rhymes and Eazy was the one cashing the checks. 

Tony Hawk recalled a pivotal moment when he was 17 and on the rise but unaware of how the industry worked. Back then he would sign off on pretty much everything that crossed his path—until he realized he was an "entity and a way to make money" for others. That reached a breaking point when a company put his name on toilet paper. He eventually got out of the contract and made a concerted effort to protect his personal brand.


Ice Cube explained that his transition from making rap to making movies, like Friday, wasn't seamless, but doing it himself was beneficial as it gave him the skills and confidence to continue working in film. He said it also made it that much better when Bill Murray praised him for Friday. Nothing like a co-sign from a comic god.

Similarly, Hawk stepped into the video game world with Tony Hawk's Pro Skater in 1999. While he had no experience in the field, he stuck to his guns and used his knowledge in skateboarding to create one of the most popular video game series of all time. 

When asked if he's ever had a Roger Murtaugh moment like in Lethal Weapon ("I'm too old for this shit!"), Cube responded, "I haven’t had a Danny Glover moment."

"I never forgot what got me there, and it’s still what I go to," Cube added. The grind never stops.

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