AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted and Death Certificate

Ice Cube was the best rapper in hip hop in the early 1990s. His albums, AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted and Death Certificate are classic hip hop albums and some of his best work. It’s fittingly to discuss those albums because of the things that are still happening today. 

The death of George Floyd angered the entire country. George Floyd was murdered by a cop, who had his knee on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. The death rate of black males continues to pile up due to racial profiling and oppression. Cube talked about it years ago on his albums.

Both albums offered lyrical delivery of similar force and content inciting some controversy, but generally more conscious and reflective, with sociopolitical criticism. 

AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted

Cube’s first solo album. It came after Cube left N.W.A. In the album, Ice Cube tackles issues of ghetto life, drug addiction, racism, and poverty. Focusing on the hardships of life in South Central, Los Angeles, as well as criticizing the American Justice System and race relations in the United States, Cube became an outspoken voice of U.S. social customs tipped against young Black Americans. 

The album had terrific production. Public Enemy’s production team The Bomb Squad, Ice Cube, and his cousin, Sir Jinx, produced AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted. Cube wanted Dr. Dre to be part of the production team, but Jerry Heller, manager of N.W.A., prevented that from happening. 

On “Endangered Species (Tales from the Darkside),” he predicts that his neighborhood would become a flashpoint for violence before 1992’s scandal over the beating of Rodney King. King is an African-American man who was beaten by white police officers. The caught on tape. The men who were responsible for beating up Rodney King were not guilty, which sparked the L.A. riots.

My favorite track from the album is “AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted,” Outstanding production, powerful lyrics. His style of rapping about real-life sentiment and socio-political defined what West Coast hip hop is all about. 

Death Certificate

Cube’s second studio album. Death Certificate was harder and angrier than AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted. Unlike AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted, which featured the Bomb Squad’s hard-edged beats, Death Certificate featured a slightly more West Coast-oriented sound in comparison, with heavy use of 70’s Funk and Soul samples. 

The Life Side’s “Black Korea” threatens rioting and arson alongside Black entrepreneurship as a response to the preponderance of Korean grocery stores in ghettos across the United States. The track is a response to the death of Latasha Harlins. On March 16, 1991, a 15-year-old Latasha Harlins was shot to death by a Korean store owner in an altercation over a bottle of orange juice. 

I can’t forget to mention “No Vaseline,” one of the most savage diss tracks of all time. I think it’s the second-best diss track after 2pac’s “Hit Em Up.” In “No Vaseline,” he dissed all of his former bandmates from N.W.A. 

Death Certificate brought a lot of controversies. The state of Oregon banned Ice Cube’s image from all retail stores. This ban also included advertisements for St. Ides Malt Liquor, which Ice Cube endorsed at the time. 

Island Records deleted tracks “Black Korea” and “No Vaseline” with the consent of Priority Records, but not Ice Cube himself. The reason behind this is because people thought that Cube was supporting minority racism or antisemitism. 

 

 

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