After the infamous Rap group N.W.A. group split, Ice Cube (real name is O’Shea Jackson Senior) reimagined himself as a solo career Rap artist, and very successfully so. This was a serious and well received release at the time, with many seeing this solo debut album as his best in his career. For that purpose, this album must be reviewed from start to finish. Let’s take a retrospective listen to this album seen as a Rap music classic. The album was notably produced by the team behind Public Enemy’s hits, The Bomb Squad.
Launching with Better Off Dead which begins with footsteps, a single note melody that is eerie and some dark speech as he walks to his death row execution. It’s a strange and odd introduction to the album, but theatrically suspenseful nonetheless. Good to hear that Ice Cube understands dark humour here.
The first main song here is The Nigga Ya Love To Hate which sounds instantly wonderful, groovy and full of intelligent and decent Rap music lyrics. It is a good Rap tune which is about who Ice Cube is, and the way he is perceived by others in society and the media. It is an instant classic and sounds really awesome and energetic from start to finish. It is perfect for that crazy Rap music driven house party that you need to blast this awesome tune at to annoy your neighbours. Very, very good with many different kinds of funk driven and sample based musical territory, Ice Cube is on a mission to surprise and get attention, for good reasons here. It ends with the scratch of vinyl here.
AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted begins with a sample of a film of some sorts, before launching into a fresh, funky and awesome tune. It’s pure Gangsta Rap here, and just sounds really decent. This is Ice Cube at his finest on this album, his delivery is honest and brutal about social and similar issues on the streets. A great listen all the same, this sounds simple, but extraordinarily good. There are some great intermissions and changes throughout the track to make it interesting and humourous. Quite a good listen here, it goes into a bass and beat heavy listen towards the finish. An excellent and uncompromising listen, and very, very good to hear. A weird sample of dark sounds and acknowledgement of Ice Cube’s status as America’s Most Wanted is at the end here, and to be fair, that may have been the case. Good tune.
What They Hittin’ Foe? is a short piece which is actually very funny and clever. It has some awesome 8 bit borderline beats, some more socially aware lyrics and some laugh out loud moments. Another wonderful listen, Ice Cube is awesome here. It ends with some random talk which was sampled later on by The Chemical Brothers on the end of Morning Lemon, which was a very good track as well.
Following is You Can’t Fade Me/JD’s Gaffilin’ begins with Ice Cube requested an old school beat, and he gets what he needs. He raps about people and time wasters, namely women who are lying about unwanted pregnancies. It’s an interesting statement and very controversial, with plenty of brilliant and funky textures to drive this interesting piece along. It’s a warning to those who have unprotected sex and other reckless deeds. Still, a really interesting listen and very quirky all the same. Some really controversial statements are here about the story, but cool and brilliant listening from the start to finish. It ends with some hilarious studio talk, brilliant.
Next is Once Upon A Time In The Projects which is more straightforward with some funky Fender guitars, attitude unlike anyone else on this record and great lyricism here. It’s about trying to get some sexual acts and not getting it on, with complications heavy in the story of the tune. A really interesting and good story about being plagued with bad luck and terrible experiences in the hood, so to speak. Very much Rap music here in its glory, but very self-conscious. Good track, even if it is not easy listening music.
Turn Off The Radio begins with some nonsense chatter by Ice Cube, a random sample of racist speech and some cycling through the radio channels who won’t play Ice Cube’s music. It quickly launches into a really excellent piece of music that has been underappreciated over time. It has some interesting intermission samples of radio and people requesting to “turn off that bullshit!” A very good and awesome listen, it has a weird ending.
Endangered Species (Tales From The Darkside) there is a pretend news broadcast about racist USA federal policy that exploits racism, before going into a bombastic Rap piece that sounds just as good today as it did on its release. A really interesting bunch of samples and sounds here, Ice Cube is raging angry here, seemingly. He comes across as a very clever Rapper here, and just delivers exactly what Rap fans needed. The sounds here are really imaginative, funky and clever. Some extra rapping by Chuck D makes this piece a bit different, before ending with some sampled gunshots in surburbia and a high frequency sound.
After that is A Gangsta’s Fairytale launches into more samples and funky beats at the start, before going straight into an interesting “story for kids”, which isn’t supposed to be for kids at all. It’s an interesting listen about guns, drugs and sex with extra humour added into the mix. Definitely out there, with a sampled kid swearing away here. Ice Cube obviously has a warped imagination here, and this whole piece sounds really great. Powerful musical and lyrical statement here, this sounds very, very direct and interesting, to say the least. Good work here.
Following is I’m Only Out For One Thang which begins with some commentary over a rather catchy backing track. It features famous rapper Flavor Flav, and it sounds really repetitive, but excellent all the same. A short, yet direct listen by Ice Cube, and he tells more stories of male sexual pursuits here. It finishes with the main star and guest have a rather humourous conversation over the music, before launching into the next track immediately.
Get Off My Dick And Tell Yo Bitch To Come Here is a short piece which is like a brief Ice Cube Rap session, and has more dirty talk here. It’s raw and direct, Ice Cube wants to be his own person sexually. It ends after less than a minute.
The Drive-By begins with old style film music, before having a sample of Ice Cube and a mate of his at night, before chaos ensues and many guns go off in the neighbourhood. Interesting and probably not 100% necessary here, it’s another short piece of…music? Different though.
Following is Rollin’ Wit The Lench Mob which continues the theme here, before launching into a very good Gangsta Rap piece that sounds energetic, eclectic and awesome. A really excellent piece of music that sounds wacky and funky, Ice Cube reveals himself as a storyteller to be feared. Really cool and different, it is a story about crime, guns and difficulties in the neighbourhood, Ice Cube is a dramatist of the late 20th century that made a difference. A strong Rap music statement, this sounds really good all the same. It ends with DJ scratching and chatter from Ice Cube and others to conclude with.
Next is Who’s The Mack? begins with a brief vocal sample, before launching into a pitch shifted piece of music that sounds perfect to chill out to. Ice Cube launches into a slow and easy listening (for this album) piece that sounds different and interesting. He talks about neighbourhood issues, with a flute and saxophone in the background to boot. A really cool piece about a loser who one should avoid giving money to, this is an extraordinary listen that is a reminder that some people take others for granted in life. A cool, sensual and lively listen, Ice Cube points to human stupidity throughout this track, and indeed, the album. Female moans, awesome melodies and slow beats finish this off. Nice effort.
It’s A Man’s World begins with a false start and sorry talk, before launching into some interesting scratching sampling of the word, “bitch”. The track then gets going, and is a duet with female Rapper Yo Yo. If she weren’t here, this would be a poor sexist rant, but it is a decent tune with two legends duking it out with the classic male vs female argument. A really fantastic sounding tune here, and likely one of the best tracks off this album. Very explicit, profane and sexist, it sounds direct and out there, but is really awesome all the same. A fantastic listen from this album, and this piece sounds really excellent here. A great piece of music that comes across as a decent Rap battle, this is a fun listen. Great effort by all. It has an extended funky outro with repeated samples. Quite good.
The Bomb is last here. It begins with some sampling and weird musical sounds, before going straight into a quick and interesting tune that concludes this album well. Ice Cube launches himself into action, and stands tall here. The sound of a bomb goes off in the middle of the track, before Ice Cube returns in his angry, furious glory. An excellent tune and a good album to listen to, on occasion. The album and music here has aged quite well, and this is no doubt highly influential throughout the music industry and Rap music in general.
This is a good album that does fall short of being a great album. Despite the fact that Ice Cube has some good songs here and that this is likely his best album, some of the bile humour is a bit off putting and the music doesn’t sound that flowing or natural on this record. Still, one can appreciate the music and lyrics here, even if we do not live in a fantasy land of guns, money, drugs and women. Good to hear from time to time, but not all the time.
Music for warlords.
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