O'Shea Jackson (born June 15, 1969), better known by his gang name Ice Cube, is an American rapper, actor, screenwriter, and producer. He began his career as a member of the rap group N.W.A along with group leader Eazy-E, and later built a successful solo career in music and cinema. From the mid-1990s onwards, Jackson focused on acting, and his musical output has slowed down considerably. He remains one of the most visible West Coast rappers, having helped originate Gangsta Rap. On the other hand, he has started starring in children's movies, leading to a severe case of Rated G for Gangsta.
Ice Cube was born in South Central Los Angeles, California, the son of Doris Jackson (née Benjamin), a hospital clerk and custodian, and Hosea Jackson, who worked as a groundskeeper at UCLA. His cousins are Teren Delvon Jones, also known as Del tha Funkee Homosapien, of Deltron 3030, Gorillaz and Hieroglyphics, and Kam of rap group The Warzone. At age sixteen, Ice Cube developed an interest in hip hop music, and began writing raps in Taft High School's keyboarding class. He attended the Phoenix Institute of Technology in the fall of 1987, and studied Architectural Drafting. With friend Sir Jinx, Cube formed the C.I.A., and they performed at parties hosted by Dr. Dre.
In 1987 Cube and Dr. Dre released the EP My Posse, under the alias CIA. After the collaboration, Cube showed Eazy-E the lyrics to "Boyz-n-the-Hood". Eazy-E, although initially rejecting the lyrics, eventually recorded the song for N.W.A. and the Posse, the debut album for the group N.W.A (short for Niggaz Wit Attitudes) that included him, Cube, Dre, and other rappers MC Ren and DJ Yella.
By this point Cube was a full-time member of N.W.A along with Dr. Dre and (to a lesser extent) MC Ren. Cube wrote Dr. Dre and Eazy-E's rhymes for the group's landmark album, Straight Outta Compton, released in 1988. However, as 1990 approached, Cube found himself at odds with the group's manager, Jerry Heller, after Heller responded to the group's financial questions by drafting up a new arrangement. As he explains in his book, since Cube wrote the lyrics to approximately half of both Straight Outta Compton, and Eazy-E's solo album, Eazy-Duz-It, Cube was advised of the amounts he was truly owed by Heller, and proceeded to take legal action, soon after leaving the group and the label. In response, the remaining N.W.A members attacked Cube on the EP 100 Miles and Runnin, as well as their next and final album, Efil4zaggin ("Niggaz4life" spelled backwards).
Cube recorded his debut solo album in Los Angeles with the Bomb Squad (Public Enemy's production team). AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted was released in 1990 and was an instant hit, riding and contributing to the rising tide of rap's popularity in mainstream society. The album was charged with controversy, and Cube was accused of misogyny, and racism. Subsequently, Cube appointed the female rapper Yo-Yo (who appeared on AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted) to the head of his own record label and helped produce her debut album, Make Way for the Motherlode. This was followed by a critically acclaimed role as Doughboy in John Singleton's hood-based drama, Boyz n the Hood. In the same year as AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted, Cube released the acclaimed EP, Kill At Will. Kill At Will sold well, becoming the first hip hop EP to go both Gold and Platinum.
His 1991 follow-up, Death Certificate, was regarded as more focused, yet even more controversial, and critics accused him again of being anti-white, misogynistic and antisemitic. It even prompted Billboard magazine to publish an editorial criticizing the album's lyrical content. Death Certificate is thematically divided into the "Death Side" ("a vision of where we are today") and the "Life Side" ("a vision of where we need to go"). It features "No Vaseline," a scathing response to N.W.A's attacks and "Black Korea," seen as a response to the death of Latasha Harlins, a 15-year-old African American girl who had been shot by a Korean store owner on March 16, 1991 because the owner thought Harlins was trying to steal a bottle of orange juice. Considering that the release of the track preceded the Los Angeles Riots, in which many of the people targeted were of Korean descent, Ice Cube was accused of inciting racism by some groups.
Cube released The Predator in November 1992, which had been recorded amidst the LA uprising of 1992. Referring specifically to the riots, in the first single, "Wicked", Cube rapped "April 29 was power to the people and we might just see a sequel". The Predator debuted at number one on both the Billboard pop and R&B charts, the first album in history to do so. Singles from The Predator included "It Was a Good Day" and the "Check Yo Self" remix, and the songs had a two part music video. The album remains Cube's most successful release, with over three million copies sold in the US. Lethal Injection was released in the end of 1993 and represented Cube's first attempt at imitating the G-Funk sound of Dr. Dre's The Chronic. It was not well received by critics, but was loved by rap audiences. Either way he had more successful hits from Lethal Injection, including "Really Doe", "Bop Gun (One Nation)", "You Know How We Do It" & "What Can I Do?". After 1994, he took a hiatus from music and concentrated on film work and developing the careers of other rap musicians, such as Mack 10 and Mr. Short Khop.
In 1995, Ice Cube had reunited with former N.W.A member Dr. Dre, who was now part of Death Row Records, in their duet "Natural Born Killaz". After a stint with W.C. and Mack 10 in the rap supergroup Westside Connection, Cube focused on a solo project that would consist of two related albums released separately. In 1998, the first part, War & Peace Volume 1: The War Album, was released. The second part, War & Peace Volume 2: The Peace Album, was delayed a bit but finally released in early 2000. The albums featured appearances from Westside Connection, Krayzie Bone (who was on the hit lead single "Until We Rich") as well as a reunion with fellow N.W.A members, Dr. Dre and MC Ren. In 2000, Cube also joined Dr. Dre, Eminem and Snoop Dogg on the Up In Smoke Tour. In 2006, Ice Cube released his seventh solo album, Laugh Now, Cry Later. Afterward Ice Cube made Raw Footage in 2008 (featuring the singles "Gangsta Rap Made Me Do It" and "Do Ya Thang") and I Am The West in 2010. Finally, after focusing much of his power on movies, including appearances in 21 and 22 Jump Street, he released his latest album, Everythangs Corrupt, in 2018 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Death Certificate.
- "It Was A Good Day"
- "You Know How We Do It"
- "True To The Game"
- "Until We Rich" (Featuring Krayzie Bone)
- "No Vaseline"
- "Black Korea" (probably his most controversial)
- "Jackin' For Beats"
- "Dead Homiez"
- "We Be Clubbin"
- "Check Yo Self"
- "Really Doe"
- "Lil Ass Gee"
- "Bop Gun"
- "Steady Mobbin"
- "What Can I Do?"
- "Who's The Mack?"
- "Why We Thugs"
- "Go to Church" (featuring Snoop Dogg & Lil Jon)
- "Gangsta Rap Made Me Do It"
- AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted (1990)
- Kill at Will (1990)
- Death Certificate (1991)
- The Predator (1992)
- Lethal Injection (1993)
- War & Peace Vol. 1 (The War Disc) (1998)
- War & Peace Vol. 2 (The Peace Disc) (2000)
- Laugh Now, Cry Later (2006)
- Raw Footage (2008)
- I Am The West (2010)
- Everythangs Corrupt (2018)
- 21 Jump Street
- Are We There Yet?
- The Book of Life
- Boyz n the Hood
- First Sunday
- Fist Fight
- Ghosts of Mars
- Higher Learning
- The High Note
- Ride Along
- Three Kings
- xXx: State of the Union
Ice Cube provides examples of:
- Actor Allusion: From "Check Yo Self":I make dough, but don't call me Doughboy/This ain't no fuckin' motion picture.
- Angry Black Man: One of the Trope Codifiers in the 1990s.
- Bowdlerise: A clean version of the The Nigga Ya Love To Hate was made.
- Changed for the Video: The version of "Check Yo Self" on The Predator uses a different beat (the same one Salt-N-Pepa used for "Shoop"), while the video and radio versions used the remix sampling Grandmaster Flash's "The Message".
- Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster!: Averted and deconstructed in the song "Ghetto Vet".
- Darker and Edgier: While the militant tone of his music has toned down over the years, his lyrics have gotten more, for lack of a better example, Steven Seagal-like with the years: violently angrier. "Go to Church" makes his NWA and early days look peaceful in comparison. His music gives off the persona that, if you double cross him, he'll eat you alive. He has that easily pissed-off Seagal-like persona.
- Defiant to the End: The first track on AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted is "Better Off Dead", a short skit depicting Ice Cube getting executed in the electric chair. The dialogue ends with:Warden: Any last words?
Ice Cube: Yeah. Yeah, I got some last words. Fuck all y'all!
Warden: Switch! (electric chair turns on)
- The Diss Track: "No Vaseline" lets all his ex-bandmates have it.
- "Yella Boy's on your team, so you're losin'; ay yo Dre, stick to producin' / Callin' me Arnold, but you Been-a-dick; Eazy-E saw your ass and went in it quick."
- "The bigger the cap, the bigger the peelin', who gives a fuck about a punk-ass villain? You're gettin' fucked real quick, and Eazy's dick, is smellin' like MC Ren's shit."
- He really lets Eazy in particular have it in the third verse: "I never have dinner with the President. I never have dinner with the President. I never have dinner with the President. And when I see your ass again, I'll be hesitant. Now I think you a snitch, throw a house nigga in a ditch. Half-pint bitch, fuckin' your homeboys. You little maggot; Eazy-E turned faggot. With your manager, fella, fuckin' MC Ren, Dr. Dre, and Yella. But if they were smart as me, Eazy-E would be hangin' from a tree. With no Vaseline, just a match and a little bit of gasoline. Light 'em up, burn 'em up, flame on... till that Jheri curl is gone." Holy shit.
- Gangsta Rap: Of the Blue Collar type.
- Grief Song: "Dead Homiez"
- Heavy Meta: "Gangsta Rap Made Me Do It" talks about how gangsta rap is often used as an easy scapegoat for any kind of wrongdoing. In short, it's half this half Take That! to Moral Guardians.
- Large Ham: Cube has been able to swing quite comfortably back and forth between this trope and a still relevant Angry Black Man throughout the greater part of his career. It tends to shift depending on the subject of of the song in question. Although any apperance of his Verbal Tic (read below) is usually a sign that the content matter isn't meant to be taken very seriously.
- Long Title: "Get Off My Dick And Tell Yo Bitch To Come Here" is a shining example.
- Lyrical Cold Open: "Dead Homiez", "Once Upon a Time in the Projects"
- Rap Metal: "Fuck Dying", a collaboration with Korn, who he previously collaborated with for "Children of the Korn" off of Follow the Leader and covered his song "Wicked" with Chino Moreno.
- Rated G for Gangsta: The trope image. He's gone from rapper and featuring in crime dramas like Boyz n the Hood, to horror movie star in Anaconda, to comedic roles like Are We There Yet?. He does go back from time to time, alternating roles between "badass thug" and "Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist".
- Rearrange the Song: Notice anything familiar about the "War & Peace" chorus? It's sung to the tune of "Don't Speak".
- Shout-Out: "Who Got Da Camera" name-checks John Singleton, Matty Rich and Spike Lee, while playing out a Rodney King-type situation.
- Song Style Shift: "Jackin' For Beats" alternates between eight sampled beats.
- Stay in the Kitchen: Averted and then Lampshaded in "When Will They Shoot?"A black woman is my manager, not in the kitchen. So would you please stop bitchin?
- STD Immunity: Averted on "Look Who's Burnin'".
- Stop Being Stereotypical: A very, very, very common topic he covers.
- Stupid Statement Dance Mix: A proto-example. He wrote a song called "The Predator" in 1992, whose chorus looped "I'll be back" sample from Das EFX rap, with one of the guys impersonating Arnie.
- Take That, Critics!: "Muthafuck Billboard and their editor" - from the Title Track of The Predator
- Uncanny Family Resemblance: O'Shea Jackson Jr. is a living snapshot of his father during his N.W.A. years, and even sounds like him. This is most evident in Straight Outta Compton, where he portrays his father during that time period. Compare picture of Ice Cube himself around the release of the titular album with Jr. in the movie portrayal.◊
- Verbal Tic: "Yay-YYYAAAYYY!!!"