The Austin Chronicle

Phases and Stages


Reviewed by Christopher Coletti, April 4, 2003, Music

Ice Cube

AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted (Priority/EMI)

Ice Cube

Death Certificate (Priority/EMI)

Ice Cube

The Predator (Priority/EMI)

Ice Cube

Lethal Injection (Priority/EMI)

Before Barbershop and days prior to Friday, O'Shea Jackson became Ice Cube, one ultrabad mofo from the mean streets of L.A.'s South Central. Shooting Straight Outta Compton in the early Eighties as a volatile frontman of N.W.A, Ice Cube crafted controversial-caliber material, pioneering gangsta rap with albums that shook a nation. Now come reissues of the Cube's peak solo material, remastered with bonus tracks that include the Kill at Will EP tacked onto AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted. During some of the worst times in gang warfare and riotous hysteria in the streets, Cube offered a voice of intelligence, often censored and unheard. Critics called it anti-white and misogynistic, while politicians made right-wing careers of black-labeling the entire gangsta-rap movement, but the unapologetic impact of "Bop Gun" G-funk, paired with a painful first-person perspective and the revival of a West Coast sound is undeniable. For the unfamiliar/faint of heart, a digression from the more popular, later released, Predator (1992) and Lethal Injection (1993) is suggested before jumping into the kitchen of agro-assaults and Death Certificates (1991). Somewhat cleaned-up, the remastered product is a clearer platform for even fans to revisit; nonfiction verbal attacks that battled everyone from racist Caucasians to "Black Korea," with Cube's portrayals of the authoritative bureaucracy/serve-n-protectors as the actual enemy. Duets with his compa-Dre still elicit twisted laughs, 'cause except for isolated moments when "today was a good day," the daily grind of being black "Boyz-N-the Hood" -- harassed in the ghetto -- sucked. Ice Cube was always and still remains "the wrong nigga to fuck wit."

(AmeriKKKa) *****

(Death Certificate; Predator) ****

(Lethal Injection) ***.5

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