Ice Cube is a talented numbskull; even his occasional primo tracks are undercut by their derivativeness, lyrical pratfalls, and serious moral problems. I don't like a lot of things about him, starting with his idea of comedy--his latest album, The Predator, for example includes a dramatization of a prison strip search ("Reach down and lift up your nut sack"), I also don't like his unapologetic (and received, sounds to me) hatred of whites, particularly Jews: his use of braggadocio as a rhetorical device; the pointless, superficial let's mourn-our-dead-and-return-to-fight-anew romanticiziation of ghetto life; and a lot of other things. (Editor: please insert boilerplate denunciation of searchingly stupid and wholesale mysogyny and homophobia.) But he does have a booming, classic rap voice, an outraged, just-this-side-of-hysterical bray. And there are those primo tracks; the latest is "It Was a Good Day," the best groove on The Predator. Forget the Geto Boys-ish guitar lines, forced rhymes, almost infantile self-absorption, and heavy-handed irony ("Nobody I know got killed in South Central LA / Today was a good day"). Read it just as a prosaic wet dream of a homeboy--winning on the basketball court, the domino table, between the sheets--sung/rapped with uncommon sensitivity by somoeone you wouldn't have expected it from. I wish there were reason to think that his China Club shows next week would transcend the hoary stage patter and rotten sound that infects most rap concerts; but north siders interested in the genre and afraid to venture down to the New Regal for such shows might want to check it out anyway. Wednesday, 8 PM and midnight, China Club, 616 W. Fulton; 466-0400 or 466-0812.