Ice Cube, born O’Shea Jackson, began
his entertainment career in the ninth grade.
He accepted a challenge from a classmate to
see who could write the best rap. Ice Cube recalls
winning, and his itch for the microphone began
to intensify. He started a group called the
C.I.A. with friends Sir Jinx and K-Dee. From
there, Ice Cube was introduced to Dr. Dre. These
two young entrepreneurs began to rap dirty lyrics
over popular songs in the nightclubs of South
Central Los Angeles. Crowds began to catch on
to their music, so they started making mixed
tapes. “We would rap on what was going
on in the neighborhood and they were selling.
Eazy-E had a partner named Ron-de-Vu, Dre was
in the World Class Wreckin’ Crew, and
I was in the C.I.A. We were all committed to
these groups so we figured we’d make an
all-star group and just do dirty records on
the side” (www.icecube.org). In 1987,
these pioneers of gangster rap formed the group
Niggaz With Attitudes (N.W.A.).
Ice Cube’s lyrics on one of N.W.A.’s
first singles, F**k tha Police, signaled the
emergence of more “conscious” music.
This music provided points of view that were
different from those in suburban America:
straight from the underground
nigga got it bad cuz i'm brown
not the other color so police think
have the authority to kill a minority
2002 Priority Records; From: http://lyrics.astraweb.com)
The reality for inner-city teenagers was police
brutality, discrimination, unemployment, and
gang violence. The song’s lyrics illustrate
the feelings of a young African-American male
growing up in most inner cities in the United
States. The stance taken by the group did go
unnoticed. Milt Ahlerich, Assistant Director
of the FBI, sent letters to record labels condemning
the song. He warned that “advocating violence
and assault and we in the law enforcement community
take exception to such action” (www.icecube.org).
The attention paid to the group by the federal
government only made record sales soar.
After breaking away from N.W.A., Ice Cube’s
debut was AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted, a highly
anticipated solo album that vocally lashed the
law enforcement, political, and judicial systems.
This platinum album was not the last the public
heard from him. Ice Cube began to read reflective
self-study materials, coupled with the teachings
of the Nation of Islam, Minister Louis Farrakhan,
and the Elijah Muhammed. As a result, Ice Cube
came back even more hard core and full of rage
and hostility toward certain groups. For example,
his views were sometimes considered to be anti-Semitic.
This caused his sophomore effort, Death Certificate,
to be publicly condemned by Billboard magazine.
However, this didn’t stop the record from
going platinum and reaching #2 on the charts.
Advanced copies of The Predator, his third album,
were in such great demand that the album went
platinum in four days.
Unfortunately, the era of “conscious”
rap came to a close. Ice Cube began to lose
his luster as “hip-hop” and “G-funk”
style music emerged. Still, during this period,
he released Lethal Injection, his fourth album
in four years. However, demand for him to act
in movies grew larger, so he shifted his concentration.
But he didn’t shift his views. This was
clear when Ice Cube came back for an encore
in 1998 and 2000 with the double album War and
Peace, Volumes 1 and 2, his final albums at
Ice Cube, the original face of gangster rap,
is considered a pioneer and one of the best
to make a profession out of rap music. He continues
to voice his opinions, challenge the privileged
system through the characters he plays on the
silver screen, and proves himself whenever other
artists call upon him for lyrical support.