One strength of the rapper Ice Cube that I feel gets overlooked is his aptitude for the laid back flow. Much like in his movie Friday, when Ice Cube spits cool, laggard rhymes he showcases his complex and charismatic nature. Laid back Ice Cube may be my favorite so, as a belated celebration of the rapper’s birthday, I listed my Top 5 laid back Ice Cube tracks.
Ice Cube is best known for his aggressive, up-tempo raps that attack his enemies, critique the ills of society and describe the gangster-rock star lifestyle.
One thing that impresses me most about Cube is his ability to make an articulate argument that expresses the frustration and anger of a community that’s been oppressed for 400 years all while delivering blistering, concise raps. Cube’s push back to police brutality in NWA’s “Fuck tha Police” or his explanation of the L.A. riots in “We Had to Tear This Mothafucka Up” (off The Predator album) are prime examples.
But there’s another strength of Ice Cube that I feel gets overlooked – his aptitude for the laid back flow. Much like in his movie Friday, when Ice Cube spits cool, laggard rhymes he showcases his complex and charismatic nature. Laid back Ice Cube may be my favorite so, as a belated celebration of the rapper’s birthday (who’s the inspiration of our flagship t-shirt, Ice Cubism), here are my top 5 laid back Ice Cube tracks (solo albums only):
5.) Who’s the Mack? Amerikkka’s Most Wanted
Ice Cube tells 3 tales of manipulation and mackdom, laying his crisp prose down over a mesmerizing bass line, velvety sax and a little flair from the flute. Cube schools us to the game and stays true to himself while everyone else is claimin’ P.I.M.P.
4.) Until We Rich, War & Peace Vol. 2 (The Peace Disc)
The best thing in life, is life. Cube tells the kids to turn off the TV and be themselves in this uplifting summer jam. I must admit I’m partial to any track featuring Krayzie Bone as I’m a Bone Thugs-N-Harmony enthusiast, but this song is highly listenable on many levels. Melody, harmony, lyrics – it’s musical pizza and everybody likes pizza. The track gets dinged a few points because it’s feels a little like an “It Was a Good Day” remix, but still works for me.
3.) You Know How We Do It, Lethal Injection
A G-funk classic and West Coast rap at its very best. This song never hit number one, but there’s a reason Ice Cube included it on his greatest hits album. I don’t really have to explain this one, the music says it all so just turn up the volume and, in the immortal words of HOV, “If you in your car, I don’t care if it’s winter I want you to put all your windows down. Zone out, buckle up, let’s go.”
2.) It Was a Good Day, The Predator
This song could easily be #1 – It’s suffering from what I like to call the “Hey Ya” effect – a song so good it gets played over and over again which subconsciously makes you exclude it from the playlist. That and it loses a few points in the realism department because Cube hired a statistician to keep track of rebounds and assists during a pickup basketball game and the Goodyear Blimp calls him a pimp. But c’mon, an all-time great song that everyone loves. Duh.
1.) Down for Whatever, Lethal Injection
Damn I’m such a G, it’s a pathetic – Ice Cube’s opening line rivals “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” This is another prototypical G-funk track where Cube’s sharp wit and storytelling prowess is on full display, mixed with cartoon references and a healthy dose of bravado. In the second verse he tells a story about his uncle throwing party goers out of his house and yelling in the yard and he uses so few words while painting such a vivid picture of the scene that Ice Cube makes Ernest Hemingway seem verbose. Laid back has never hit so hard.