ICE CUBE - PROPHET OF RAGE: From 1990 to 1992 Ice Cube was the most powerful, the most angry, and the most unrelenting voice in HipHop, period. After collaborating with mentors Public Enemy and the Bomb Squad who gave a soundtrack to his fury on his first album, Amerikkka’s Most Wanted, Cube came back in 1991 with HipHop’s greatest concept album, Death Certificate.

The influence of groups like Public Enemy, X-Clan, and BDP were evident on Death Certificate as Cube took on a more militant, defiant, hardcore lyrical approach, tackling subjects from Black on Black violence, politics, race relations, STDs, police brutality, class structure, healthcare (or the lack thereof) for the poor, George Bush (number one), etc., etc. He also managed to drop the dis record that essentially destroyed whatever was left of his former group NWA.

The album was met with criticism from many outside of the HipHop world who took offense to many of Cube’s unflinching lyrics, in particular his characterization of the relationship between Korean store owners and the Black community, the police, and whites in general.

The album dropped in October 1991. By April 1992, as South L.A. burned in the wake of the rebellion that took place after the four officers accused of beating motorist Rodney King were acquitted, Cube went from villain to prophet. Everything he had been vilified for saying months earlier was playing out on the streets of South Central LA and the TV screens of the world.

Suddenly the rest of the nation realized that HipHop music was more than a leisure activity. It was raw, urban social commentary. As Cube would later say to one of many journalists who now wanted to hear his opinions, "Everything you wanted to know about the riots, was in the record before the riots."

Although his work would never have the same social, political, or musical impact as that of his early releases, I wanted to capture the Ice Cube who was a major part of the reason white America feared HipHop.

As I said, there was short a time when Cube was both HipHop’s most angry and most important voice. I wanted to capture that Ice Cube in this piece before his legacy became a series of bad movies and booty music.

The whole vibe is best summed up in the Cube line featured in the piece: You wanna sweep a nigga like me up under the rug / kickin’ shit called street knowledge / Why more niggas in the pens than in college? / Because of that line I might be your cellmate / that’s from the nigga you love to hate…