Ice Cube Joint

At first this was going to be another in the occasional series on my dismay at the public adoration of Tupac. My contention is that Ice Cube was the MC that Tupac wanted to be. There are some strong parallels to their careers, and there would probably be a lot more had Tupac not died when he did. I'm not taking it in that directon right now, though. Instead of comparing him to his inferior, I'll just let it suffice to say that Jheri Curl Ice Cube was the greatest MC ever from the West Coast. Now, I'm specifying Jheri Curl Ice Cube(JCIC) as opposed to the later incarnations, because there's a definite difference in tone and quality. Death Certificate, his second full-length solo LP, I still count as JCIC, even though he had cut his hair by that point. Ask anybody who has a historical sense of hip-hop and they'll tell you that after Straight Outta Compton, everything was different. I've said that a few times myself. This time, I'm not trying to place it in any kind of sociological context or any of that, I'm just talking about an album. There had been gangsta rappers before, but nothing in the world could compare to Straight Outta Compton. Ice Cube either wrote or co-wrote all the important songs on there. Now this is not to say that Cube was a one-man show. On my breakdown of favorite groups, I said that NWA had the first complete starting 5 in the modern era of hip-hop (no disrespect to Grandmaster Flash and the Furious 5). MC Ren was nice. A lot of people front on Ren, but Ren was the truth. And even though he wasn't an official member of NWA, The D.O.C. was second only to Ice Cube in terms of lyrics and delivery. As the ghostwriter, however, Cube gets more credit. So Cube is basically the one who gave gangsta rap its name, with the song, "Gangsta, Gangsta." He's also the one who brought incessant vulgarity to the forefront. But in the era in which NWA came, nobody would have paid them any attention if it hadn't been for the lyrics. That's what made NWA so dope, Cube was a stone-cold writer. From Parental Discretion Iz Advised:
I'll be what is known as a bandit You gotta hand it to me when you truly understand it Cause if you fail to see, read it in braile It'll still be funky -- so what's next is the flex of a genius, my rapid-stutter-steppin if you seen this dope, you hope that I don't really mean this But if played, made the grade a high-top fade Is not my trademark when I get loose in the dark You guess it was a test of a different style It's just another motherfucker on the pile Drivin your ass with the flow of your tongue You hung yourself short, the after-knowledge was brung to your attention, by the hardest motherfuckin artist that is know for lynchin any sucker in a minute Stagger 'em all When I start flowin like Niagara Falls Ice Cube is equipped to rip shit in a battle Move like a snake when I'm mad; and then my tail rattle I get low on the flow so let your kids know When I bust, parental discretion is a must
Or from the brother song, The Grand Finale, from The D.O.C.'s sublime No One Can Do It Better
Picture a nigga that's raw Amplify his ass and what you see is what's on Muthafuckas I slaughter, blow em out the water Word to me, fuck the father My medley is deadly as a pin in a handgrenade 5 seconds before you get played You can't throw me, I guess you'll blow up Ever see a sucker scatter, it'll make ya throw up Then I take advantage, you can't manage To get up, all you can do is sit up, I get lit up Hit up, Ice Cube tearing shit up Like a dude you can bet on Collide like a head on Collision, stutter steppin is an incision Of a nigga saying exactly what I vision Because I'm gone, you think I left you all But I stay in yo' ass like cholesterol When I blast some solid as alcatraz And if you escape, you better swim fast 'Cause I'll catch ya, physically and mentally And the capital punishment's the penalty Sit in the electric chair, grab a hold Pull the switch, yo' body twitch, your eyes explode Out your skull 'cause being dull on a flow Is an N-O, niggas didn't know that I can go Off and show off to throw off the law Turn, take 10 paces then draw What's left is a muthafucka dead in the alley Ice Cube is the shit on the grand finale
Kool Moe Dee only gave cube an 80 on battle skills, but I beg to differ. Jheri Curl Cube was a MONSTER. Personally, I think Rakim was the best that ever did it, although I have to acknowledge that KRS-1 has a legitimate claim as well. And if Big Daddy Kane was not quite on the same tier as those two, he's only micrometers below. In any case, Jheri Curl Cube would give any of those dudes fits. The craziest part is that they were all at the top of their games in the same time period. These young cats try to tell me that '94 was the year, or '98 or somethin'...naw, dawg. '89 was the number. I'm not even gonna bring Chuck D into the discussion. For all Cube's work with NWA, it's when he broke camp and recorded solo that he became simply devestating. Amerikkka's Most Wanted was by almost all accounts an instant classic. I remember getting a letter from my friend that summer. He was like, "That's the hardest nigga I ever heard. I'd hate to run into him in an alley." But it wasn't just that. It was hard and funny and thought-provoking all at the same time. See, to tip my hand on the 2Pac argument, in addition to the elements I described before, a big part of Pac's reachability, of his "everyman-ness" was the fact that he wasn't an outsanding lyricist. He was approachable in that way. Cube, on the other hand, the average listener knew...there was no way they could ever get it like that.