O’Shea Jackson Sr., known by the stage name Ice Cube, was born on June 15, 1969, in Los Angeles, California. His father was a groundskeeper at the University of California, and his mother worked in a hospital. His brother Clyde first dubbed him Ice Cube after Clyde threatened to put him in a freezer if he didn’t calm down. He first played with NWA while still a teenager, which helped launch his solo career. He went to Phoenix Insitute of Technology and studied architectural drafting between NWA and his solo career. For a brief time, he returned to NWA and recorded “Straight Outta Compton,” He wrote 9 of 13 tracks. However, he soon left the group because he thought he wasn’t receiving as much royalties as he felt he was entitled. After leaving the group, his career soared to incredible heights with a string of albums that established him as one of the preeminent voices in rap. Many feel that his lyrics addressed the oppression of black and brown people throughout his career and brought issues to light that otherwise may have fallen aside; forgotten. Aside from his music, he also starred in 30 films, including Boyz N the Hood and the Friday movies on which he wrote songs on the soundtrack. It’s challenging to pick out the greatest songs from his catalog because there are so many. Nonetheless, I feel these are the 10 best Ice Cube songs of all-time.
10. Why Me?
This song was co-produced by Teak “Da Beatsmith” Underdue/ The song’s message is about people who may kill because they have no other way to survive. Ice Cube’s life was a victim of a random killing alongside his mother. The singer heard the demo after their death and knew he had to record it. After he did, he felt he could use something to help people realize there was another way besides killing innocent people.
9. My Summer Vacation
The singer’s 1991 album “Death Certificate” is one of the most critically acclaimed rap albums of all time. “My Summer Vacation” is one of the biggest standouts on the album. According to River Front Times, this is an east coast versus west coast rap song in some ways. The lyrics are about gangbangers who go to St. Louis to try to sell dope and feel that gang members in the city won’t challenge them because gang members in the city are weak.
8. Gangsta Rap Made Me Do It
Ice Cube is very serious about his craft. It feels that he is one of the only rappers who can carry a message about how violent the streets are and some of the political and sociologic issues that happen to people who grow up in abject circumstances. Despite the onslaught of profanity, this song is a powerful message about social oppression and how reduced circumstances can create a powerful art form.
7. Black Korea
This song contains a lot of assumptions that Ice Cube later wondered if he went too far since many were false. However, it includes a powerful message about how people are treated differently based solely on their nationality. Throughout the songs in his catalog, he used his music to draw attention to tough subjects that people don’t want to discuss.
6. You Can’t Fade Me
Ice Cube doesn’t shy away from controversial subjects, and the lyrics for “You Can’t Fade Me” find him rapping about another contentious issue, unplanned pregnancy. Additionally, although his catalog is full of controversial subjects some feel are too disturbing, he delivers a powerful message. Through the beats, he creates a story about how you need to stay safe during sex, so you don’t face the consequences. Bomb Squad produced, and Sir Jinx provided additional beats.
5. Death Certificate
According to Vibe, Ice Cube’s album “AmeriKKKA’s Most Wanted” was one of the most “socio-politically charged in its own right.” One of the heaviest tracks is Death Certificate. Like many of his songs, it expresses Ice Cube’s anger at the black and brown community and the blatant racism in the United States. Even though many thought the song was controversial, Ice Cube gained another platinum record and became one of the most prolific names in rap music.
4. Hood Mentality
The song is fused with Southern music undertones making it certainly stand out in Ice Cube’s catalog. Part of the song is a sample from Eddie Kendricks, who once played with the Temptations. Additionally, you’ll find more high hats than you will find in other pieces from the artist’s catalog. Teak “Da Beathsmith Underdue produced the song. Everything came together quickly with “hood mentality,” only taking him 20 or 30 minutes to write.
3. She Couldn’t Make It On Her Own
In 2010, Ice Cube did several songs with his sons OMG and Doughboy, including this one. He felt the beats in the song were contemporary. Additionally, he wanted to do one that fits who his songs are. Even though much of his music is Gangsta Rap, his sons didn’t grow up in the same lifestyle, so he wanted to feature them on a track where they could identify with the lyrics.
2. Jackin’ For Beats
Even though many artists find inspiration in others’ songs or sample portions, outright plagiarism without credit should never happen. Ice Cube recorded this song on his second album, “AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted.” Ironically, he uses many different samples in the music, including “The Humpty Dance” by Digital Underground and “Funky Drummer” by James Brown, and several more.
1. It Was a Good Day
Many people shy away from listening to rap because they find it far too pessimistic, celebrate life on the streets, and illegal behavior. However, this song by Ice Cube was one of his biggest hits and one of the most optimistic songs he wrote. According to Rolling Stone, the rapper said, “I rap all this gansta stuff, what about all the good days I had?” Even though some thought it was autobiographical, Ice Cube assured his fan that its a collection of many great moments in his life.