Behind the Music: Ice Cube
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O'Shea Jackson (born June 15, 1969), better known by his stage name Ice Cube, is an American rapper, record producer, actor, and filmmaker. He began his career as a member of the hip-hop group C.I.A. and later joined the seminal gangster rap group N.W.A (Niggaz Wit Attitudes). After leaving N.W.A in December 1989, he built a successful solo career in music and films. Additionally, he has served as one of the producers of the Showtime television series Barbershop and the TBS series Are We There Yet?, both of which are based upon the films in which he portrayed the main character.
Ice Cube is noted as a proficient lyricist and storyteller and is regarded as a brutally honest rapper; his lyrics are often political or socio-political, as well as violent and aggressive, and he is considered one of the founding artists in gangsta rap. He was ranked #8 on MTV's list of the 10 Greatest MCs of All Time, while fellow rapper Snoop Dogg ranked Ice Cube as the greatest MC of all time. AllMusic has called him one of hip-hop's best and most controversial artists, as well as "one of rap's greatest storytellers". In 2012, The Source ranked him #14 on their list of the Top 50 Lyricists of All Time. In 2014, About.com ranked him No. 11 on their list of the "50 Greatest MCs of All Time".
O'Shea Jackson was born on June 15, 1969 in Los Angeles, in the South Central area, the son of Doris, a hospital clerk and custodian, and Hosea Jackson, who worked as a groundskeeper at UCLA. He has an elder brother as well as a half-sister who was killed when Ice Cube was 12. His cousin is Teren Delvon Jones, also known as Del tha Funkee Homosapien, who is a part of the rap group Hieroglyphics and who has also worked with Gorillaz; and Kam of rap group The Warzone. In his early teens, Ice Cube developed an interest in hip hop music, and began writing raps in George Washington Preparatory High School's Los Angeles keyboarding class. He attended the Phoenix Institute of Technology in the fall of 1987, and studied architectural drafting. With friend Sir Jinx, Ice Cube formed the C.I.A., and they performed at parties hosted by Dr. Dre. Dre soon entered the recording industry as a member of the World Class Wreckin' Cru. Dre saw Cube's potential as a writer and had him assist with writing Wreckin Cru's big L.A. hit track, "Cabbage Patch" as well as joining Cube on a side partnership which the duo called Stereo Crew. Stereo Crew produced a twelve-inch record, "She's a Skag" released on Epic Records in 1986.
In 1987, Ice Cube released the Dr. Dre produced single My Posse under with his group C.I.A. (Cru' In Action!). After the collaboration, Ice 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 that also included Dr. Dre, MC Ren, and DJ Yella. Ice Cube was the only member of N.W.A who is not from Compton, California (where it was formed).
By this point Ice Cube was a full-time member of N.W.A along with Dr. Dre and MC Ren. Ice Cube wrote Dr. Dre's and Eazy-E's rhymes for the group's landmark album, Straight Outta Compton, released in 1988. However, towards the end of 1989, Ice Cube found himself at odds with the group's manager, Jerry Heller, after rejecting Heller's proposed contract terms.
Since Ice Cube wrote the lyrics to approximately half of both Straight Outta Compton, and Eazy-E's solo album, Eazy-Duz-It, he was advised of the amounts he was truly owed by Heller, and took legal action soon after leaving the group and the label. In response, the remaining N.W.A members attacked him on the EP 100 Miles and Runnin' and on their next and final album, Niggaz4Life.
In 1989, Ice Cube recorded his debut solo album, AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted, in New York with the Bomb Squad (Public Enemy's production team). It was released in May 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 he was accused of misogyny and racism. Subsequently, Ice 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 violent crime drama, Boyz n the Hood. In the same year as AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted, Ice Cube released the acclaimed EP, Kill At Will which sold well, becoming the first hip hop EP to go Platinum.
His second album Death Certificate was released in 1991. The album was regarded as more focused, yet even more controversial, and critics accused him again of being anti-white, misogynist, and antisemitic. The album is thematically divided into two sides: 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," a track regarded by some as prophetic of the 1992 Los Angeles riots, but also interpreted as racist by many. Ice Cube toured with Lollapalooza in 1992, which widened his fan base.
Ice Cube released his third album, The Predator, in November 1992. Referring specifically to that year's Los Angeles riots, in the first single, "Wicked", he rapped "April 29 was power to the people, and we might just see a sequel". The Predator debuted at number one on both the pop and R&B charts, the first album in history to do so. Singles from The Predator included "It Was a Good Day" and "Check Yo Self", and the songs had a two-part music video. The album was generally well received by critics and remains his most successful release commercially, with over three million copies sold in the US. However, after The Predator, Ice Cube's rap audience diminished. Cube's fourth album Lethal Injection, which was released at the end of 1993 and represented Ice Cube's first attempt at imitating the G-Funk sound of Dr. Dre's The Chronic, was not well received by critics. 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, Mack 10, Mr. Short Khop, Kausion, and Da Lench Mob.
In 1994, 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". In 1998, he released his long-awaited fifth solo album, War & Peace Vol. 1 (The War Disc). The delayed sixth album Volume 2, was released in 2000. The albums featured appearances from Westside Connection as well as a reunion with fellow N.W.A members, Dr. Dre and MC Ren, though many fans maintained that the two albums were not on par with his past work, especially the second volume. In 2000, Ice Cube also joined Dr. Dre, Eminem & Snoop Dogg for the Up in Smoke Tour.
In 2006, Ice Cube released his seventh solo album, Laugh Now, Cry Later, on his Lench Mob Records label, debuting at number four on the Billboard Charts and selling 144,000 units in the first week. The album featured production from Lil Jon and Scott Storch, who produced the lead single "Why We Thugs". He released his eighth studio album, Raw Footage, on August 19, 2008, featuring the controversial single "Gangsta Rap Made Me Do It".
On October 12, 2009, he released a non-album track called 'Raider Nation' in tribute to the Oakland Raiders.
On May 11, 2010, Ice Cube released a 30 for 30 documentary, "Straight Outta L.A.", for ESPN on the relationship between the gangsta rap scene in Los Angeles and the tenure of the Raiders there. He has been voted as eighth of MTV's "greatest emcees of all time."
On September 28, 2010, Cube released his ninth solo album, I Am the West. The album featured the single "I Rep That West". It debuted at #22 on the Billboard 200 and sold 22,000 copies in its first week.
In 1996, Ice Cube formed Westside Connection with Mack 10 and WC, and together they released an album called Bow Down. Some of the album was used to engage in the East Coast–West Coast hip hop rivalry of the 1990s. The album's eponymous single reached number 21 on the singles charts, and the album itself was certified Platinum by the end of 1996. With Bow Down, Westside Connection brought their own agenda to the hip hop scene. Ice Cube, Mack 10 and WC had grown tired of being overlooked by most East Coast media outlets; the album was designed to instil a sense of pride in West Coast hip hop fans and to start a larger movement that some people who felt underappreciated might identify with. Songs like "Bow Down" and "Gangstas Make the World Go 'Round" make reference to this. Ice Cube would also eventually make amends with Eazy-E shortly before his death in March 1995.
After a seven-year hiatus, Westside Connection returned with their second effort Terrorist Threats in 2003. The album fared well critically, but its commercial reception was less than that of Bow Down. "Gangsta Nation" was the only single released from the album, which was produced by Fredwreck and featured Nate Dogg; it was a radio hit. After a rift between Ice Cube and Mack 10 about Ice Cube's commitments to film work rather than touring with the group, Westside Connection disbanded. WC did release a new solo album on Lench Mob Records entitled Guilty by Affiliation on August 14, 2007.
In 1992, Ice Cube assisted on debut albums from Del the Funkee Homosapien (I Wish My Brother George Was Here), Da Lench Mob (Guerillas in tha Mist, 1992) and Kam (Neva Again, 1993), all of which enjoyed critical acclaim and some moderate commercial success. He handled most of the production on Guerillas in tha Mist.
In 1993, Lench Mob member, J-Dee, was sentenced to life imprisonment for attempted murder, and Ice Cube did not produce their next album, Planet of tha Apes. Around this time in 1993, he also worked with Tupac Shakur on his album Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z., appearing on the track "Last Wordz" with Ice-T. He also did a song with Dr. Dre for the first time since he left N.W.A: "Natural Born Killaz", for the Murder Was The Case soundtrack, and also contributed to the Office Space soundtrack. He also featured on Kool G Rap's song "Two To The Head" from the Kool G Rap & DJ Polo album "Live And Let Die". He also collaborated with David Bowie and Trent Reznor from Nine Inch Nails for a remix of Bowie's "I'm Afraid of Americans". Ice Cube appeared on the song "Children of the Korn" by the band Korn, joining them on the Family Values Tour 1998, and they also collaborated on 'Fuck Dying' from Cube's fifth album. He also lent his voice to British DJ Paul Oakenfold's solo debut album, Bunkka, on the track "Get Em Up". Ice Cube appeared in several songs in WC Guilty by Affiliation like "Keep it 100", "80's babies" and "Jack and the bean stalk". Ice Cube also appeared in D.A.Z. in the song "Iz You Ready to die" and in DJ Quik in the song "Boogie Till You Conk Out" in 2011.
In 2004, he appeared in the Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz song, "Real Nigga Roll Call". In late 2005, Ice Cube and R. J. Cutler teamed up to create the six-part documentary series titled Black. White., which was broadcast on cable network FX. In May 2006 Ice Cube complained that Oprah Winfrey would not welcome him and other rappers on her show. Ice Cube's other movie projects include Teacher of the Year, released in 2007, and The Extractors, released in 2008.
He has signed on to star in and produce Welcome Back, Kotter, a big-screen adaptation of the 1970s television series. Ice Cube will play the title character, originally portrayed by Gabe Kaplan and his film company, Cube Vision Productions, has sealed a deal with Dimension Films to bring the show to the big screen.
In October 2006, Xzibit, Lil Jon and WC from the Westside Connection honored Ice Cube at VH1's Annual Hip Hop Honors, performing some classic Ice Cube tracks, and Ice Cube also performed "Why We Thugs" and "Go To Church" from his album Laugh Now, Cry Later, where the New York crowd were greeted with Cube's vintage Cali sound. After launching that comeback album, Ice Cube toured across the world to promote it. The tour is known as "Straight Outta Compton Tour", and accompanying him is his friend and fellow rapper WC from the Westside Connection. Some places he has recently performed include the Paradiso in Amsterdam and various venues in England. After touring the U.S. and Europe, he performed all around Australia, from Sydney's Enmore Theatre to The Forum Arena in Melbourne, before heading to Japan.
Ice Cube collaborated with Tech N9ne on the song "Blackboy" that appears on Tech N9ne's July 2008 album Killer. The eighth Ice Cube studio LP, titled Raw Footage, was released on August 19, 2008, and featured the singles Gangsta Rap Made Me Do It and Do Ya Thang. Ice Cube appeared on a song by rapper The Game titled "State of Emergency" off The Game's Album, L.A.X. In 2009, Ice Cube performed at the Gathering of the Juggalos, and will return to perform at the 2011 festival.
Ice Cube's ninth studio album I Am the West was released on September 28, 2010. Ice Cube has stated this album has a different direction than any one of his other albums. He received beats from West coast veteran producers such as DJ Quik, Dr. Dre, E-A-Ski, and Sir Jinx, not having worked on a solo album with the latter in nearly 20 years. The album was released independently under his label Lench Mob. Ice Cube has stated that "being independent is beautiful because we can do things 'out the box' He also signed a upcoming recording artist named 7Tre The Ghost, that record companies would usually frown at. Instead of working from a ready-made cookie-cutter marketing plan, we can tailor make a marketing plan specifically for me."
In November 2011, Ice Cube stated via Twitter that he was seven songs into the current album he's recording. He also stated he "always got an album coming out" which suggests that he isn't thinking of rap retirement to focus on acting in the near future.
In 2012, Ice Cube recorded a verse for a remix of the Insane Clown Posse song "Chris Benoit", from ICP's The Mighty Death Pop! album, appearing on the album Mike E. Clark's Extra Pop Emporium. Also in 2012, Ice Cube had released more details on his upcoming tenth studio album titled, Everythang's Corrupt. A music video for the album's first single of the same name was released on the day before the 2012 USA Election. Ice Cube explained the inspiration and reason for the song saying, "You know, this record is for the political heads. This to me is more a leak at the right time, in time, to drop it. We could have dropped a more catchier tune, but the time wouldn't have been right. The time is right for "Everythang's Corrupt," so that's what we wanted to do. We wanted to drop it at this point and time, and then come with a visual to highlight what we're saying in the music." "Everythang's Corrupt" was released on iTunes in January 2013. The second single "Crowded" was released to iTunes on March 29. Ice Cube confirmed on his Twitter account that the album will be released in the fall of 2013 and will also be released via Lench Mob Records. However the album would be pushed back once again with no release date currently set.
Ice Cube released a new single off Everythang's Corrupt after a lengthy break since "Crowded." The new single, which dropped Monday, February 10, 2014 is called Sic Them Youngins On 'Em and is also available on iTunes. The music video for the new single released on February 11, 2014. The tenth album Everythang's Corrupt was supposed to release on May 13, 2014, but it has been delayed. Ice Cube hasn't talked about the delay yet. Ice Cube will release a new Music Video for his upcoming single Drop Girl featuring RedFoo and 2 Chainz which is directed by Will Kindrick. On July 22, 2014 Ice Cube released the video to his Club Banger Drop Girl featuring RedFoo and 2 Chainz. During an interview with Hallway Productionz Ice Cube stated that Everythang's Corrupt would be pushed back again, because he was focused on completing Straight Outta Compton. After over an year of silence Ice Cube said he is back on his music tip and is ready to put the final touches on Everythang's Corrupt and release it as soon as possible.
John Singleton had encouraged Ice Cube to try his best at screenwriting, telling him, "If you can write a record, you can write a movie." With this encouragement, Ice Cube wrote the screenplay for what became the 1995 comedy Friday, in which he also starred, alongside then up-and-coming comedian Chris Tucker. Friday earned $28 million worldwide on a $3.5 million budget, and spawned two sequels, Next Friday and Friday After Next. (On March 9, 2011 he announced that he was making the final sequel called Last Friday.) That year, he also starred in his second collaboration with John Singleton, Higher Learning, as university student Fudge; a role for which he earned award nominations.
In 1997, Ice Cube starred in the action thriller Dangerous Ground as a South African exiled to America who returns 15 years later. He also had a supporting role in the film Anaconda that same year. He wrote, executive produced, and made his directorial debut in The Players Club in 1998. and in 1999 starred alongside George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg in the critically acclaimed Three Kings. In 2000, he wrote, produced and appeared in the Friday sequel Next Friday. In 2002, Ice Cube starred in the commercially successful movie Barbershop, as well as All About the Benjamins and the third film in the Friday trilogy, Friday After Next (which he again wrote and produced). In 2004, he appeared in Barbershop 2: Back in Business, and Torque; in 2005 he starred in the action movie XXX: State of the Union, as well as the family comedies Are We There Yet? and Are We Done Yet?, co-starring Nia Long. Ice cube also starred in 2014 box office hit "Ride Along" alongside comedian Kevin Hart and is expected to release a sequel in 2016 titled "Ride Along 2".
In early April 2007, Ice Cube was a guest on Angie Martinez's Hot97 radio show and stated that he was interested in bringing back Chris Tucker as Smokey in a possible Friday sequel, but that was only possible "if New Line cuts the check." In an interview with BlackFilm.com, Ice Cube stated that he would be interested in involving all major characters from the Friday franchise in a possible sequel, but added "I know I'm not going to get Chris [Tucker] back, but I'd love to get everybody else back." As of December 2011, Chris Tucker has agreed to be in "Last Friday".
Ice Cube and basketball star LeBron James have paired up to pitch a one-hour special to ABC based on James' life. Ice Cube's Are We There Yet? television series premiered on TBS on June 2, 2010. Based on the 2005 feature film of the same name, the show revolves around a family adjusting to the matriarch's new husband (Terry Crews) and trying to deal with normal family situations. On August 16, 2010, Are We There Yet? was renewed for 90 additional episodes. In an August 2010 interview with UrbLife.com, Ice Cube expressed excitement about the show being picked up for the run, which will pan out to around six seasons. He also credits Tyler Perry for opening the door for him at TBS. He also had a role in 21 Jump Street and in its sequel 22 Jump Street. In 2014 he appeared with Elmo as a guest on PBS children's show Sesame Street.
Ice Cube has license a clothing line, Solo by Cube, which features hooded sweatshirts with built-in headphones in the hood strings.
On April 26, 1992, he married Kimberly Woodruff, with whom he has four children: O'Shea, Jr. (b. February 24, 1991), Darrell (b. December 29, 1992), Kareema (b. February 17, 1994), and Shareef (b. November 17, 1995).
A father of four, Ice Cube was asked in January 2005 on NPR by Fresh Air's Terry Gross if he allowed his children to listen to his music, he responded: "What's worked for me is instilling in my kids a level of self-respect," helping them to understand the content of not just music but the violence found on the evening news. When asked what he tells his children about profanity, he recalled telling his kids that there are "appropriate times to use any kind of language... Adults should never hear you use these words. If you want to use these words around your friends, that's really on you."
Jackson is also the cousin of rapper Del the Funky Homosapien who started his career writing for Jackson's group Da Lench Mob. With Cube's help Del released his debut album I Wish My Brother George Was Here when he was only 18.
In the mid-1990s, Ice Cube converted to Islam, and was associated at that time with the Nation of Islam, though he disputes ever being a part of it. He does not regularly attend services at a mosque.
|1991||Boyz n the Hood||Darin "Doughboy" Baker|
|1994||The Glass Shield||Teddy Woods|
|1997||Dangerous Ground||Vusi Madlazi|
|1998||The Players Club||Reggie (Also Directed)|
|I Got the Hook Up||Gun runner|
|1999||Three Kings||Sgt. Chief Elgin|
|Thicker Than Water||Slink|
|2000||Next Friday||Craig Jones|
|2001||Ghosts of Mars||James 'Desolation' Williams|
|2002||All About The Benjamins||Bucum|
|Friday After Next||Craig Jones|
|Barbershop 2: Back in Business||Calvin Palmer|
|2005||Are We There Yet?||Nick Persons|
|Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars|
|XXX: State of the Union||Darius Stone|
|2007||Are We Done Yet?||Nick Persons|
|2008||First Sunday||Durell Washington|
|The Longshots||Curtis Plummer|
|2009||Janky Promoters||Russell Redds|
|2010||Lottery Ticket||Jerome "Thump" Washington|
|2012||21 Jump Street||Capt. Dickson|
|2014||Ride Along||Detective James Payton|
|22 Jump Street||Capt. Dickson|
|The Book of Life||The Candle Maker (voice role)|
|2015||Straight Outta Compton|
|2016||Ride Along 2||Detective James Payton|
|Barbershop 3||||Calvin Palmer|
|1994||The Sinbad Show||Himself||Episode: The Mr. Science Show|
|2002||The Bernie Mac Show||Himself||Episode: Goodbye Dolly|
|2005||BarberShop: The Series|
|2007||Friday: The Animated Series|
|2010||30 for 30||Episode: Straight Outta L.A.|
|2010-2013||Are We There Yet?||Terrence Kingston||Recurring Role; 20 Episodes|
|2014||The Rebels||Pilot of unproduced series|
|Call of Duty: Black Ops||2010||Chief Petty Officer Joseph Bowman/SOG multiplayer announcer||Voice and likeness actor|
|Doom 3 BFG Edition||2012||Screaming Marines/Infected Carriers||Uncredited|
Ice Cube has received nominations for several films in the past. To date, he has won two awards:
Doc - Lucian Freud: Painted Life
A rare glimpse into the private life of the reclusive and brilliant painter Lucian Freud