Ice Cube – AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted (1990)
Question: In 1990, how many American family evenings started with a parent/guardian saying, “OK kids, gather round, Ice Cube is on TV.”
Answer: Hopefully zero!
I already marveled at Cube’s transformation from the fast & furious MC to the family-friendly actor when I reviewed Straight Outta Compton.
So I’ll try to keep my astonishment at his impressive reinvention to a minimum here.
Such albums are also worth approaching with certain understandings:
– There is going to be plenty of vivid & violent imagery
– The lyrics are going to be
sprinkled packed with profanity & slurs
– The attitudes toward women, law enforcement, and civic responsibility are going to be, let’s call them, less than progressive.
Amerikkka’s Most Wanted may be Cube’s solo debut but it is far from amateur hour. I believe I used the term ‘relentless rhymes’ last time and he’s in fine form here again, not slowing/settling down at all after leaving N.W.A.
The backing tracks wouldn’t be out of place on a Public Enemy record; I wasn’t terribly surprised to learn the album was a Bomb Squad production. It sounds like 1990 and I rarely complain when that’s the case.
Speaking of Public Enemy, Chuck D & Flavor Flav also make separate cameos that neither enhance nor detract. As I’ll discuss when I review Jay Z next week, I often find guest appearances distracting. Fortunately, as Cube was still front & centre on the two tracks, these guest spots don’t disrupt the flow of the record.
Overall, I’ll offer the same praise he gave guest female artist Yo-Yo, “Yeah I admit you can flow.”
Good enough to be #17 on Chris Rock’s Top 25 Hip Hop Albums.
#1 on that list? The aforementioned N.W.A. record featuring a younger but equally angry O’Shea Jackson.