Today's Artists initially gained recognition in 1986 as a member of the hip hop group C.I.A., which gained limited commercial success prior to disbanding around the time N.W.A formed. Ice Cube, alongside Dr. Dre and Eazy E, formed the group N.W.A, where he gained extreme notoriety as the group's primary songwriter and performer, noted for becoming one of the founding artists of gangsta rap, and pushing the boundaries of lyrical content in mainstream popular music, as well as visual imagery in music videos...... N Joy
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Ice Cube is one of the most crucial artists in rap history. A razor-sharp lyricist, alternately furious and humorous MC, and accomplished producer, Cube laid the foundation for the legacy of pioneering gangsta rap group N.W.A by writing "Boyz-N-the-Hood" for partner Eazy-E and making his first big splash as an MC with the subsequent "Dope Man." After N.W.A's Straight Outta Compton (1988) infiltrated suburban America and attracted the scrutiny of the FBI with "Fuck tha Police," Ice Cube launched a solo career that has entailed five platinum albums and one platinum EP, including AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted (1990), Death Certificate (1991), and The Predator (1992). A month before Cube released the first LP in that series, he appeared on Public Enemy's critical "Burn Hollywood Burn" and within a year aided in the disruption of the track's target with a co-starring role in John Singleton's Boyz N the Hood. While Cube added to his filmography with projects such as the Friday franchise, directorial debut The Players Club, and Barbershop, he devoted less time to music. He continued to record occasionally as a solo artist and member of Westside Connection, and extended a streak of RIAA-certified releases that lasted through Laugh Now, Cry Later (2006). The next decade, Cube and Dr. Dre co-produced the acclaimed Straight Outta Compton (2015), a biographical film about N.W.A, whose resurgence culminated with an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Cube soon returned with his first solo album in eight years, Everythangs Corrupt (2018).
Raised in South Central Los Angeles, California by working class parents, Ice Cube, born O'Shea Jackson, became involved with b-boy culture in his early teens and in high school began writing rhymes. Cube rapped at parties hosted by Dr. Dre, who soon produced his first recordings: Stereo Crew's "She's a Skag," released on major-label Epic in 1986, and an EP by C.I.A., issued in 1987 on the small independent Kru-Cut. Stereo Crew and C.I.A. also featured K-Dee, while the latter added Sir Jinx. Along the line, Cube met Eazy-E through Dre, and that trio, along with Arabian Prince, formed the first lineup of N.W.A., bolstered soon thereafter by MC Ren and DJ Yella. Eazy and music industry veteran Jerry Heller set up Ruthless Records, launched later in 1987 with a pair of 12" releases: Eazy's "Boyz-N-the-Hood," and an EP from N.W.A. containing "8 Ball" and "Dope Man." Cube was the MC only on "Dope Man," but he was credited as sole lyricist on the three tracks, all of which demonstrated the writer's flair for pointed narratives illustrated with irreverent humor.
By the time the Macola label expanded the Ruthless tracks for the compilation N.W.A. and the Posse, Cube had headed to Arizona to study architectural drafting at Phoenix Institute of Technology. After he obtained a one-year degree, he returned to work on N.W.A's Straight Outta Compton and Eazy-E's Eazy-Duz-It. Released by Ruthless in August and September, respectively, 1988, the albums gradually crept into the mainstream, thanks in significant part to word of mouth and eventual support from Yo! MTV Raps. Nine months after its release, Straight Outta Compton peaked at number nine on Billboard's R&B/hip-hop chart (trumping Eazy-Duz-It, which in March topped out at number 12). The extreme lyrical content of "Fuck Tha Police," courtesy of Cube and MC Ren, attracted scrutiny from the Los Angeles Police Department and eventually the assistant director of the FBI office of public affairs, who sent the group a strongly worded letter.
Deep conflicts with Jerry Heller prompted Cube to leave N.W.A in late 1989. He went to New York with fellow producer Sir Jinx and recorded his first solo album, heralded by an appearance on Public Enemy's "Burn Hollywood Burn," with the Bomb Squad. Released on Priority in May 1990, AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted was an instant Top 20 Billboard 200 hit and went gold within four months. While the album's production and Cube's mike skills were praised, the often violent, homophobic, and misogynist lyrics were criticized, particularly by the rock press and moral watchdogs. Even amid such controversy, the album was hailed as a groundbreaking classic -- led by the title track, a number one hit on Billboard's Hot Rap Singles chart -- and established Cube as a recognized individual force. He began his own corporation, which was run by a woman, and by the end of 1990 co-produced a 12" for Yo-Yo and released the platinum Kill at Will EP. Yo-Yo's Make Way for the Motherlode, produced entirely by Ice Cube and Sir Jinx, arrived the following year, as did another Cube-related project, I Wish My Brother George Was Here, the debut from cousin Del the Funky Homosapien. Moreover, Cube made his widely praised acting debut in John Singleton's groundbreaking urban drama Boyz N the Hood, titled after the song he wrote, filmed in his native South Central Los Angeles.
Cube's first album may have been controversial, but its reception paled compared to that of his follow-up, Death Certificate. Released in October 1991, just after the debut went platinum, Death Certificate was more political, antagonistic, and vulgar than its predecessor, causing more scrutiny and outrage. In particular, "No Vaseline," a vicious attack on N.W.A and Jerry Heller, was perceived as anti-Semitic, and "Black Korea" was taken as an instruction to burn down Korean-owned grocery stores. The songs provoked a condemnation from the trade publication Billboard -- the first time an artist had been singled out by the magazine. None of this prevented the album from reaching number two and going platinum with momentum maintained well into 1992 by "Steady Mobbin'," a Top Ten rap hit. During 1992, Cube also performed in the second Lollapalooza tour to consolidate his white rock audience, executive-produced Da Lench Mob's radical Guerillas in tha Mist, and that December appeared in Trespass and released The Predator. Cube's third album, The Predator, became the first to debut at number one on both the pop and R&B/hip-hop charts. Promoted with three Top Ten rap singles -- the ferocious Los Angeles riots response "Wicked," the steady-rolling "It Was a Good Day," and the Das EFX collaboration "Check Yo Self" -- the album eventually went double platinum.
Lethal Injection, Cube's fourth album, was released in December 1993 and became the rapper's third straight LP to debut within the Top Ten of the pop and R&B/hip-hop charts. Its biggest single, "Bop Gun (One Nation)," paid tribute to the enduring influence of Parliament-Funkadelic and featured leader George Clinton. By the end of that year, Cube's production discography included more material from Yo-Yo, as well as Kam's Neva Again. Having released four albums in four years, Cube took a break from making solo LPs, but during 1994 reunited with Dr. Dre for "Natural Born Killaz," recorded for the Murder Was the Case soundtrack. Also that year, the November release Bootlegs & B-Sides bundled stray cuts. Cube was visible as ever throughout 1995. He acted in Singleton's film Higher Learning, wrote and starred in the cult classic stoner comedy Friday, and appeared on tracks by Westside Connection partners Mack 10 and WC. Bow Down, Westside Connection's first album, followed in 1996, narrowly missed the top of the pop chart, and went platinum on the strength of the hits "Bow Down" and "Gangstas Make the World Go Round." In 1997, Cube starred in the action thriller Dangerous Ground and in the surprise hit horror film Anaconda, and contributed music to the soundtrack of the former, including "The World Is Mine," joined by K-Dee and Mack 10. Another anthology, Featuring...Ice Cube, was out that December.
The Players Club, Cube's directorial debut -- which he also wrote -- premiered in 1998, promoted with a Top Ten soundtrack featuring his own "We Be Clubbin'." That November, just after he made a featured appearance on nu metal leaders Korn's "Children of the Korn," Cube's solo LP dry spell was broken with War & Peace, Vol. 1, the source of another rap number one, "Pushin' Weight," and an additional Korn collaboration, "Fuck Dying." Like all his previous LPs, it went platinum. Film work resumed with Next Friday, written and produced by Cube, who also reprised his starring role from the original and was present on the soundtrack. War & Peace, Vol. 2, containing a collaboration with Dr. Dre and MC Ren on "Hello," followed in March 2000 and completed his prosperous phase with Priority Records, swiftly summarized with Greatest Hits in 2001. Between studio albums, Cube devoted most of his creative energy to films. David O'Russell's Three Kings, John Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars, and Tim Story's Barbershop, as well as a third Cube-written Friday film, Friday After Next -- among several other titles -- all appeared in theaters before he returned to music with Westside Connection's second album, Terrorist Threats, in December 2003.
Signed to EMI, Cube lengthened his solo discography in June 2006 with Laugh Now, Cry Later. In the Movies, a compilation of soundtrack cuts, was put together by Priority for a 2007 release. The following August, Cube returned with Raw Footage, his seventh consecutive solo studio album to enter the Billboard 200 and R&B/hip-hop charts within the Top Ten. Yet another catalog title from Priority, The Essentials, appeared in 2008. Cube's September 2010 effort I Am the West was a family affair, with sons Darrell Jackson (aka Doughboy, named after Cube's Boyz N the Hood character) and O'Shea Jackson, Jr. (aka OMG) among the guests, who also included longtime associate WC. By the end of 2011, Cube had also acted in and/or produced a multitude of projects for the large and small screens, including Are We There Yet?, Beauty Shop, Friday: The Animated Series, and The Longshots.
In 2012, Cube announced the imminence of a tenth solo album, Everythangs Corrupt. Despite several singles issued across 2013 and 2014, its release was delayed as Cube focused on film and television pursuits, as well as the legacy of N.W.A. Along with Dr. Dre, Cube worked on a biopic about the origin and rise of the trailblazing group, with son O'Shea Jackson, Jr. cast to portray him. Named after their breakthrough album, Straight Outta Compton was released in 2015 to critical acclaim. The film made over $200 million worldwide, and was nominated for an Academy Award in the category of Best Original Screenplay. The film inspired Dr. Dre's solo album Compton, which included Cube on the track "Issues." A Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction followed for N.W.A in 2016. A 25th anniversary reissue of Death Certificate was released the next year by Interscope, Cube's new home. The week of the 2018 midterm elections, Cube issued the single "Arrest the President," a prelude to the characteristically scathing, humorous, and funky Everythangs Corrupt, which finally arrived the next month.
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When Ice Cube split from N.W.A after the group's seminal Straight Outta Compton album changed the world forever, expectations were high, too high to ever be met by anyone but the most talented of artists, and at his most inspired. At the time Cube was just that. With AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted the rapper expanded upon Compton, making a more full-bodied album that helped boost the role of the individual in hip-hop. Save the dramatic intro where a mythical Ice Cube is fried in the electric chair, his debut is filled with eye-level views of the inner city that are always vivid, generally frightening, generally personal, and sometimes humorous in the gallows style. Ripping it quickly over a loop from George Clinton's "Atomic Dog," Cube asks the question that would be central to his early career, "Why there more niggas in the pen than in college?," while sticking with the mutual distrust and scare tactics N.W.A used to wipe away any hopes of reconciliation ("They all scared of the Ice Cube/And what I say what I portray and all that/And ain't even seen the gat"). "What I'm kicking to you won't get rotation/Nowhere in the nation" he spits on the classic "Turn Off the Radio," which when coupled with the intoxicating Bomb Squad production and Cube's cocksure delivery that's just below a shout, makes one think he's the only radio the inner city needs. The Bomb Squad's amazing work on the album proves they've been overly associated with Public Enemy, since their ability to adapt to AmeriKKKa's more violent and quick revolution is underappreciated. Their high point is the intense "Endangered Species," a "live by the trigger" song that offers "It's a shame, that niggas die young/But to the light side it don't matter none." This street knowledge venom with ultra fast funk works splendidly throughout the album, with every track hitting home, although the joyless "You Can't Fade Me" has alienated many a listener since kicking a possibly pregnant woman in the stomach is a very hard one to take. Just to be as confusing as the world he lives in, the supposedly misogynistic Cube introduces female protégé Yo-Yo with "It's a Man's World" before exiting with "The Bomb," a perfectly unforgiving and visceral closer. Save a couple Arsenio Hall disses, AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted is a timeless, riveting exercise in anger, honesty, and the sociopolitical possibilities of hip-hop.
Ice Cube's riveting debut album, AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted, was still burning up the charts when Priority Records released this EP, which lacks that album's overall excellence but has its moments. With Kill at Will, Cube unveiled his engaging "The Product" and "Dead Homiez," a poignant lament for the victims of black-on-black crime that is among the best songs he's ever written. Enjoyable but not essential are remixes of "Endangered Species (Tales From the Darkside)" and the outrageous "Get Off My Dick and Tell Yo Bitch to Come Here." Clearly, Kill at Will was intended for hardcore fans rather than casual listeners.
Ice Cube - AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted (flac 492mb)
01 Better Off Dead 1:02
02 The Nigga Ya Love to Hate 3:12
03 AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted 4:08
04 What They Hittin' Foe? 1:22
05 You Can't Fade Me 5:12
06 Once Upon a Time in the Projects 3:40
07 Turn Off the Radio 2:37
08 Endangered Species (Tales From the Darkside) feat. Chuck D 3:21
09 A Gangsta's Fairytale 3:16
10 I'm Only Out for One Thang feat. Flavor Flav 2:10
11 Get Off My Dick and Tell Yo Bitch to Come Here 0:56
12 The Drive-By 1:01
13 Rollin' Wit the Lench Mob 3:43
14 Who's the Mack? 4:33
15 It's a Man's World feat. Yo-Yo 5:26
16 The Bomb 3:27
Bonus EP: Kill At Will
17 Endangered Species (Tales From The Darkside) [Remix] 4:11
18 Jackin' For Beats 2:57
19 Get Off My D*** And Tell Yo B**** To Come Here [Remix] 3:38
20 The Product 3:35
21 Dead Homiez 3:55
22 JD's Gaffilin' (Part 2) 0:32
23 I Gotta Say What Up!!! 3:06
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Ice Cube's second solo album, Death Certificate, captures the rage in the black community that lead to the Los Angeles Riots some sixth months after it was released. Separated into two sections -- The Death Side and The Life Side -- the album is essentially a coming-of-age tale produced by the most pissed off man in the history of hip-hop. Sure, the album is ripe with misogyny, homophobia, and cultural chauvinism (whites and Asians are frequent targets here, as are "Uncle Toms," and, interestingly, Cube dabbles with the philosophy of The Nation of Islam); but, prior to 2Pac's great output about five years later, no other rapper better captures the mood, the oppression, and the misery of the inner city as well as Ice Cube. Sharing historically similar attitudes with other black nationalists, Ice Cube is, on this album, advocating black pride, economic self-sufficiency, and distance from the white community.
When Ice Cube isn't offering up some valuable insight about the blighted black community in Los Angeles, he's busy making himself seem as threatening as ever, especially on the aptly titled track "The Wrong Nigga to Fuck Wit." "Steady Mobbin'" continues in this vein, and is the most booty-shakin' track on the album. "A Bird in the Hand," which samples Big Bird from Sesame Street (of all things!), is about as rousing as he gets (thanks to a well-chosen sample from B.B. King's "Chains and Things"), as he relates that "Blacks are too fucking broke to be Republican." On The Life Side, "Horny Lil' Devil" re-articulates the painful history of white men sexually exploiting black women in the United States, though he does it in fairly tepid and predictable ways. My favorite track on the album is the epitome of the coming-of-age theme: "Doing Dumb Shit." The track is a catalog of youthful indiscretions and lessons learned, featuring a wonderful sample of Parliament's "Funkentelechy." Death Certificate is not without flaws. Most notably is his observation in "The Wrong Nigga to Fuck Wit" that "I'm platinum bitch and I didn't have to sell out." While true at the time, I'm sure the rapper who uttered this wouldn't recognize the star of Are We Done Yet? But I will forgive him for his latter-day sins. Also, tracks likes "Givin' Up the Nappy Dug Out" and "Black Korea," I feel, are beneath him. Plus, at an hour long, it can become a grind at the end, especially as he rips of fellow rappers like MC Hammer and his former colleagues in N.W.A. Criticisms aside, Death Certificate represents, along with his former group's Straight Outta Compton, 2Pac's All Eyez on Me, and Dr. Dre's The Chronic, the apex of West Coast rap.
Ice Cube - Death Certificate (flac 420mb)
The Death Side
1 The Funeral 1:37
2 The Wrong Nigga to Fuck Wit 2:48
3 My Summer Vacation 3:56
4 Steady Mobbin' 4:10
5 Robin Lench 1:13
6 Givin' Up the Nappy Dug Out 4:15
7 Look Who's Burnin' 3:53
8 A Bird in the Hand 2:17
9 Man's Best Friend 2:06
10 Alive on Arrival 3:11
11 Death 1:03
The Life Side
12 The Birth 1:21
13 I Wanna Kill Sam 3:22
14 Horny Lil' Devil 3:42
15 Black Korea 0:46
16 True to the Game 4:10
17 Color Blind 4:29
18 Doing Dumb Shit 3:45
19 Us 3:43
20 No Vaseline 5:15
21 How To Survive In South Central 3:40
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It's a strange album to listen to, because in some ways it's Cube's most adventurous album yet. After returning to funky, simpler west coast sounds on Death Certificate, this album finds Cube returning to the incredibly dense samplescape of the Bomb Squad, through the eyes of the his west coast production homies DJ Pooh and Sir Jinx. For example, the familiar whine of a synth keyboard is in the back of "Wicked"'s mix, but the track is a lot more focused on the drums, air siren and other various affects than that funk. There are also dancehall features, east coast rappers Das Efx and their stiggity style, and a few different experimental flows from Cube. Unfortunately, I don't believe that Pooh and Jinx are as good at those super dense productions. The album takes a lot of time to gain energy, and a lot of that has to do with the beat for "When Will They Shoot?" being close to whack status, and many of the rest following a sort of generic west coast template that just sounds stale in the face of Dr. Dre's dominating Chronic. Cube toes the line very carefully between too much and not enough.
So perhaps it's no surprise the best tracks are more laid back. Singles "Now I Gotta Wet 'Cha", "The Predator" and "It Was a Good Day" are the album's obvious highlights, each boasting laid back grooves supporting story tracks that do nothing but stand the test of time and entertain every time they play. The main problem Cube fans will probably find is that his lyricism here is not as insightful, or descriptive, as it was a few years ago. His voice still dominates, his sense of humor is still present, but there's something strange missing. There's that inter-connective spark missing. The album just doesn't feel like Cube is really building to anything, in that sense it's more like a collection of tracks (ie. a regular hip-hop album) than anything he'd done previously. This isn't a bad album by any means, but in the face of Cube's early discography it stands as a somewhat sloppy, somewhat undercooked facsimile of Cube's style. Grab it, spin the fuck out of it, love the singles and feel the rest. Just don't expect Cube to blow you off your ass once again. I don't hold it against him, it's the arc of an artist.
Ultimately, I'm down on this album as much because of my expectations of an Ice Cube album as what's actually on the disc, so don't take all the criticism as my only thoughts on the album. There's not a true dud on the disc and Cube is still spitting those hardcore lyrics, it's just a little retreaded and a little less insightful than previous discs, opting instead for a more blanket, observant gangster that's less obviously involved in his environment, less obviously a part of the mayhem he's describing. I think the album really picks up after "It Was a Good Day", though - the beats get kind of jazzy for a moment, and tracks like "Don't Trust 'Em" carry Ice Cube's classic talents for weaving stories through a social commentary. By the end of the album, it's most likely I'd be able to counterpoint most of my review if I were inclined.
Ice Cube - The Predator (flac 495mb)
01 The First Day of School (Intro) 1:20
02 When Will They Shoot? 4:36
03 I'm Scared (Insert) 1:32
04 Wicked 3:55
05 Now I Gotta Wet 'Cha 4:02
06 The Predator 4:03
07 It Was a Good Day 4:20
08 We Had to Tear This Mothafucka Up 4:23
09 Fuck 'Em (Insert) 2:02
10 Dirty Mack 4:33
11 Don't Trust 'Em 4:06
12 Gangsta's Fairytale 2 3:19
13 Check Yo Self feat. Das EFX 3:42
14 Who Got the Camera? 4:37
15 Integration (Insert) 2:32
16 Say Hi to the Bad Guy 3:19
17 Check Yo Self ('The Message' Remix) 3:54
18 It Was A Good Day (Remix) 4:28
19 24 Wit An L 3:25
20 U Ain't Gonna Take My Life 4:07
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Lethal Injection was one of the first hip-hop LPs where audience expectations kept an extremely solid work from getting the respect it demanded. Ice Cube isn't quite the same rapper here as he'd been on past releases, true, but he's still quite an angry guy and I think it's pretty refreshing after three classic albums of extreme vitriol that he decides to flow with a more melodic, bouncy attitude here. What helps him out here is that Lethal Injection features much of the most accessible production of his career, the names on the boards may not be huge but the sound they put out sure is. This shit is just funky as hell, it's really hard for me to see flaws in a track like "Ghetto Bird" and "Make It Ruff, Make It Smooth". Some folks seem to have a problem with Ice Cube basically listening to "One Nation Under a Groove" and rambling along with George Clinton about "Bop Gun (Endangered Species)" for eleven minutes, but I've always had an odd appreciation for that joint, probably because I didn't grow up on Funkadelic and have any predilection to just grab the LP and listen to that instead.
Lethal Injection may be a somewhat modest LP by Ice Cube's early standards but that's nothing to hold against what's actually here. As a big Curren$y fan I've always had a huge appreciation for "You Know How We Do It" too (seriously, count the phrases he's lifted from this track)...really, the only bomb here is "Cave Bitch" with its blatantly ridiculous lyrics. It's even less socially sensitive than "Black Korea", which is kind of a major accomplishment. When I was younger and didn't care as much (read: wasn't aware of) about politics and social woes, Lethal Injection was easily my favorite Ice Cube LP because it's just so much more fun to listen to, you don't have to carry any baggage into this one to enjoy it. Plus it's got some really underrated Cube creativity, I really think the production on "Bop Gun" is some impressive sample mixing and "What Can I Do?" is a pretty unique drug dealer biography, with Cube's character moving to Minnesota to ply his trade and spending most of the track down and out rather than on the rise. Where a looooooot of people feel like the G fell off with this one, I feel like it was his last great stand. A concise and to the point celebration of all things west coast, and a very well timed moment of reflection and calming down for one of the genre's most notoriously violent pioneers.
Ice Cube - Lethal Injection (flac 442mb)
01 The Shot (Intro) 0:54
02 Really Doe 4:28
03 Ghetto Bird 3:51
04 You Know How We Do It 3:53
05 Cave Bitch 4:18
06 Bop Gun (One Nation) feat. George Clinton 11:05
07 What Can I Do? 4:50
08 Lil Ass Gee 4:05
09 Make It Ruff, Make It Smooth feat. K-Dee 4:24
10 Down for Whatever 4:40
11 Enemy 4:50
12 When I Get to Heaven 5:02
13 What Can I Do? (Westside Remix) 4:27
14 What Can I Do? (Eastside Remix) 4:46
15 You Know How We Do It (Remix) 4:23
16 Lil Ass Gee (Eerie Gumbo Remix) 5:21
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