Review Summary: Ice Cube focuses his rage to produce a classic follow-up to his superb debut.
After his excellent debut "AmeriKKKa'z Most Wanted" with the help of The Bomb Squad, Ice Cube himself produces the majority of this album with help from Sir Jinx and The Boogie Men, this gives it much more of a west coast feel than his debut. It would still fall under the umbrella of gangsta rap but this time the threats are more real and the enemy has a face, usually a pale one and sometimes much more specific as in Jerry Heller N.W.A. manager.
The album is thematically divided into the "Death Side" which as Ice Cube explains is "A mirror image of where we are today", and the "Life Side", a "Vision of where we need to go." Both parts though have an equally bleak outlook with Cube's scathing commentary about society's ills. The ever-present anger shows a side of Ice Cube that resulted in much controversy because he attacks racism with even more racism and comes off as a racist himself.
The intro, appropriately titled "The Funeral" starts the death side followed by the up-tempo, funk flavored "The Wrong N***a to F*** Wit" where he boasts "I'm platinum b**** and I didn't have to sell out." On "My Summer Vacation", Cube talks about having to go to St. Louis to slang crack because "In L.A. everybody and they momma sell dope" over George Clinton's "Atomic Dog" (which is sampled throughout the album).
Ice Cube drew much criticism for the misogynist "Givin' Up the Nappy Dug Out" where he goes to pick up a girl only to meet with her apalled dad and starts it off with "Your daughter was a nice girl, now she is a slut," he proceeds to explain in very graphic detail what goes on with this 17 year old girl and goes in to a catchy chorus:"I got a big old ding-a-ling, and if that b**** can hang I'm gonna do my thing, with your dauuuughter!" It ends with a warning advising people to use condoms if having sex with someone like this and keeps the theme going on the next track "Look Who's Burnin'", a tale about a visit to the free clinic. Sampling sound bytes from Kool Moe Dee's "Go See the Doctor", in fact these songs are very similar, they're advocating safe sex but at the same time take the opportunity to diss women who sleeep around: "But a b**** like you'll be returnin with the H-I-V."
"Man's Best Friend" once again sampling "Atomic Dog" talks about how a gun, not a dog is man's best friend and how it's neccessary to be packin'. He spins a gruesome tale on "Alive on Arrival" about getting shot and going to the hospital "Now I'm handcuffed, being asked information on my gang affiliation," and how he can't get the attention he needs because everyone there just wants to know who shot him assuming he's a gang member, he blacks out and thus ends the death side.
The life side starts off with a boy being born and quickly goes in to a trifecta of hateful, powerful songs: "I Wanna Kill Sam," "Horny Lil' Devil" and the extremely controversial "Black Korea," warning oriental store owners "So don't follow me, up and down your market or your little chop suey ass'll be a target," he calls for a nationwide boycott and threatens to "Burn your store, right down to a crisp." In order to truly appreciate "True To The Game" you need to see the video, in it Cube takes aim at black people who sell out and takes a shot at MC Hammer. Ice Cube fills all 20 tracks with his intense anger and energy showing his great storytelling ability thoughout, only getting guest appearances on "Color Blind," several fogettable verses from the likes of Coolio, WC and King T.
Album closer "No Vaseline" is a venomous attack on former crew N.W.A. and their manager, filled with racial and homophbic slurs this is probably the most vicious diss track ever made, Cube states that if he had it his way, "Eazy E would be hangin' from a tree" and proposing what to do with their manager "Get rid of that Devil real simple, put a bullet in his temple."
With this album, Ice Cube completed what is perhaps the greatest run in the history of hip hop: he was largely responsible for the success of N.W.A.'s debut, followed it with his outstanding solo debut and finished with this album, not to mention his role in the movie "Boyz N the Hood." With his great mid-tempo flow, Ice Cube makes sure that you don't miss anything he has to say, channeling very real anger and aggresion at tangible threats,this is a near perfect album that retains it's power and significance many years later.