And motherfuckers that say they too black
Put ’em overseas, they be beggin’ to come back
And say we promote gangs and drugs
You wanna sweep a nigga like me up under the rug
Kickin’ shit called street knowledge
Why more niggas in the pen than in college?
Now ’cause of that line I might be your cellmate
That’s from the nigga ya love to hate
(“The Nigga Ya Love To Hate”)
For West Coast Wednesday today, I’d like to take this time to acknowledge AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted, the classic platinum-selling debut solo album from outspoken South Central Los Angeles-bred gangsta rap icon Ice Cube, which celebrated its 27th anniversary yesterday.
The hip hop masterwork surfaced following Cube’s departure from groundbreaking Compton-based supergroup N.W.A, and a lot of people may not know that he originally wanted Dr. Dre to produce it; despite Dre’s interest in doing so, the idea was effectively shut down by N.W.A’s manager Jerry Heller, adding to the eventual beef between the group and Cube. As a result, the beats on AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted were handled mainly by Public Enemy’s beautifully noisy and innovative production team The Bomb Squad, with additional support from West Coast veterans Sir Jinx and Chilly Chill; PE frontman Chuck D would also end up sharing the mic with Cube on the heated racial tension-themed single “Endangered Species (Tales From The Darkside)” while the legendary group’s beloved hype man Flavor Flav appears on “I’m Only Out For One Thang”; the former number would be remixed several months later on Cube’s Kill At Will EP.
The Squad’s signature use of multiple layered funk and soul samples set the scene for Cube’s commanding vocal presence and delivery, which impressively blends hungry hardcore gangsta rap with intelligent and observant socio-political commentary. In addition to the title track/lead single and its B-side “Once Upon A Time In The Projects” (which is one of hip hop’s all-time most memorable narratives; beloved Newark, NJ stoner emcee Redman would remake this joint eight years later as “Jersey Yo!”), “Who’s The Mack?” is another strong single (for which you can peep the official video below!), while the other highlights on here are nearly innumerable. A few of my personal favorites include the tasteless comic misogyny of “You Can’t Fade Me”, the minute-long “Get Off My Dick And Tell Yo Bitch To Come Here” (which pretty much has the greatest song title ever; like “Endangered Species” it would be given the remix treatment on Kill At Will), the adversarial male/female rap duet “It’s A Man World” (featuring protégé Yo-Yo) and the explosive album closer “The Bomb” (see what I did there?).
Cube additionally attacks mainstream radio on “Turn Off The Radio” (which is preceded by a skit featuring late comic talent Ricky Harris), creatively weaves classic children’s story characters and concepts with street life in South Central on “A Gangsta’s Fairytale” (a sequel to this song appeared two years later on Cube’s third full-length solo offering, The Predator) and straight tears shit up on the confrontational album opener “The Nigga Ya Love To Hate” (following the memorable intro skit “Better Off Dead”, depicting Cube’s execution by electric chair following his last words of “FUCK ALL Y’ALL!”.
From beginning to end, AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted is a timeless, in-your-face work of hip hop genius and only the beginning of a highly influential and acclaimed solo career for one of the game’s all-time greats. It also happens to be one of the first albums to receive the then-coveted score of 5 Mics (Hip Hop Classic) in The Source magazine and would be well supplemented with more heat on the aforementioned Kill At Will EP; the latter’s seven tracks would be included as a special bonus treat on the 2003 reissue of AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted. Cube’s popularity in music in recent years may have dwindled in favor of his film career, but don’t get it twisted; dude is still active in the game, still has a credible voice with something to say, still tours often and still earns deserved respect from his peers as well as his fans. For anybody arguing that Cube has sold out and/or is no longer “relevant”, I must echo the man’s own sentiment with a resounding “FUCK ALL Y’ALL!”.
Happy West Coast Wednesday y’all….