Review Summary: Ice Cube circa 1990 calls Ice Cube circa 2010 a 'b*tch-a** n*gga.' Just look at the album cover; nothing says "gangsta" like a sneer, fingerless leather gloves, and a Jheri curl.4 of 5 thought this review was well written
When the news hit that Ice Cube, real name O'Shea Jackson, was departing NWA for a solo career, everybody knew that the breakup was far from amicable. As the lyrical mastermind behind the group - he claims to have written over half of both the group's magnum opus Straight Outta Compton
and Eazy-E's classic solo debut Eazy-Duz -It
- Jackson was embittered over a monetary dispute with record head Jerry Heller regarding his work on the albums. But almost nothing Cube did was done pleasantly. The man now known for doing family movies was once upon a time a ruthless MC and arguably hip-hop's most incendiary lyricist. Every syllable he rapped exploded out of his mouth with attitude and power and nobody was exempt from the possibility of finding themselves caught in between the sights of Ice Cube's AK47. He was a force to be reckoned with, and AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted
showcases the might of his heyday perfectly.
If the Wu-Tang Clan honed lyrical swords, then Ice Cube threw lyrical fists. He started unapologetically taboo and profane lines by injecting them with angst and then finished them by slamming end rhymes against booming kicks. With a relentless personality and furious lyrics to match, Ice Cube had no fear on the mic. Now artists usually shouldn't have to fear anything, per se, but that just goes to show where Ice Cube set his parameters (if you could call them that.) Nothing was off-limits to him. In addition to your A-B-C, 1-2-3 rhymes about sex, drugs, and violence, you had blatant attacks on purportedly racist white organizations, and surprisingly enough, even African Americans and the same radio stations that aired his songs. Despite the unrelenting abrasiveness, there was a calculated wit about his rhymes, and the truth of the matter is, no matter how brutal he was on the mic, no matter how gangster and misogynistic he was, every song he made had political commentary contained somewhere within. Although he was his own artist, his style could loosely be described as an amalgamation of the diehard ghetto mentality shared and cultivated amongst the remaining members of his old group, NWA and Chuck D's socio-economic and political criticisms. Even though he had no background as a battle rapper, it's almost as if AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted
is an extended cipher, with America as the crowd that surrounded a frowning Ice Cube who was tearing through everyone in his line of sight.
Although he was from L.A. (or rather, straight out of Compton, if you'll indulge me the pleasure of making a pun,) Cube holed up in New York, New York in order to team up with Public Enemy's production, the Bomb Squad. Marked by dusty horn bursts, shrill guitar riffs and heavy percussion, the style of the Bomb Squad had helped propel hip-hop landmarks from the late 80's such as [i]It Takes a Nation of Millions To Hold Us[i] and The Adventures of Slick Rick
and did the same for Ice Cube. But, no disrespect to Bomb Squad, it was no match for Dre's production prowess, and that's where this album falters, if it falters at all. Ice Cube's rapping and Dr. Dre's stripped-down, amped-up funk was a match made in heaven, and were Cube to have had a chance at a solo record back with Ruthless, there's no doubt in my mind that it would have been a championed essential and a widely recognized record.
Although it's disappointing that he quickly fell off, we still have AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted
as a testament to Ice Cube's rap royalty. Ice Cube, in the purest sense of the idiom, went hard here, and ultimately succeeded in making one of the first great hip-hop albums of the 90's, an accomplishment in and of itself. It's truly astonishing how the mighty have fallen. After the hordes of hip-hop fans caught word that Eminem had collaborated with the likes of Rihanna and P!nk, people dismissed him as being a sell-out that paled in comparison to his old's self. Funny. People were saying the same sh*t about Ice Cube just when Em was dropping MMLP
. History has the tendency to repeat itself, just as you should have the tendency to replay this.