I almost snuffed my cousin over Ice Cube once (yes, I said ‘snuff’). It was 1991 and the now Godfather to my son borrowed my copy of Cube’s Death Certificate. Actually, he didn’t really borrow it. We were riding around in his black Chevy Blazer and he asked me if I had any new music. DC hadn’t left my side since I bought it and I jumped at the chance to bump that shit LOUD. (There was no loud gangsta rap allowed in Courtney and Gemma’s house.) Nothing sounded better than “Wrong Ni**a To Fuck Wit” on level 10 at the intersection of Church Ave. and Albany. But when we got to my house he asked if he could hold onto it. I reluctantly said yes, figuring we’d see each other soon enough. Big mistake.
The next three times I saw my cuz he copped pleas like R. Kelly; “I left it in the truck” or “I lent it to my boy,” (which was the ultimate violation. You ever heard of a hi-speed dub?) Finally I became a royal pain in the ass, blowing up his house phone like that video store clerk in The Big Hit. You gotta understand, he was 5 years my senior and could drop me without a thought, but I ain’t care. I wanted my killa tape back. So I got up in his face, “I want my Ice Cube TAPE!” Clearly he realized his lil cuz had gone crazy and that he’d pushed me to my limit. He got in his truck, drove to his house and came back with the tape. He handed it off without even looking at me, like he was dropping off child support or some shit. But I ain’t care, I got my killer tape back.
So why was I–a cat who bumped ATCQ, X-Clan, De La Soul, Big Daddy Kane, and Brand Nubian religiously–sweatin’ Ice Cube so hard? Because before O’Shea Jackson was doing kids movies he was all of those groups rolled into one. One of the best storytellers in hip-hop, Ice Cube had the humor and skits of De La, the funkin’ lessons of X-Clan and cocky lyricism of any battle rapper. I give Amerikkka’s Most Wanted its props but Death Certificate had it all. Right behind a raunchy mysogenistic cut like “Givin Up The Nappy Dug Out” was a cautionary song about STDs like “Look Who’s Burnin.” But what really drew me to the album (other than the bangin beats provided by Sir Jinx) were the political songs like “Bird In The Hand.” I didn’t have a kid then, I’d never been to jail, but I sure as hell felt every word:
Now I’d never condone selling crack as a means to an end but with gas prices at 4 dollars a gallon and having my homeowner’s insurance canceled cuz All State thinks a hurricane is going to demolish NYC…I understood Ice Cube then and I sure as hell understand him now.
More than ever America needs a voice of the people who can convey that struggle and stand as example of how you too can succeed if you pull yourself up by your Converse All Stars. Got beef? Ice Cube has taken on the best of the west and beasts of the east. Need a bill passed? Any man that can get a sequel to Are We There Yet? greenlighted has serious pull.
Obama is only gonna get two terms so I’m starting the campaign now:
O’Shea Jackson for Governor of California (hey, we gotta start somewhere…)
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