Ice Cube – Amerikkka’s Most Wanted (May 16, 1990)

After kicking in the door (and simultaneously becoming number one on the FBI’s most wanted list) with NWA on their debut album Straight Outta Compton, O’Shea “Ice Cube” Jackson was at a crossroad.  After months of constant touring and monster record sales with NWA, O’Shea  found it odd that he still didn’t have enough money in his bank account to buy a bottle of activator for his jerry curl, which had become so dry by this point it was coughing.  O’Shea’s financial woes peaked his curiosity and led him to look into the business side of things, which were being handled by his partner in curl, Eazy E and group manager Jerry Heller. His findings revealed the shady business practices of Eric and Jerry which eventually led to O’Shea dropping four niggas (Easy, Dre, Ren, and Yella) and making all the dough.  Dre initially sided with Easy on the matter but a few years later he would travel the same Damascus road as O’Shea and sever tides with Jerry and Easy after finding out for himself that Cube’s claims were true.

O’Shea decided to reach out to his East Coast counterparts and friends, Public Enemy, for guidance as they would play a huge role on Cube’s solo debut Amerikkka’s Most Wanted.  

Amerikkka’s Most Wanted would go one to receive critical acclaim (as well as a 5 mic rating from The Source) and commercial success that would help catapult O’Shea career in not only music but also acting and eventually writing and directing movies (family movies at that).

I wonder what Ren’s doing these days?

Better Of DeadAMW opens with a skit that portrays O’Shea being executed on an electric chair, after giving a verbal middle finger to his tormentors. That then leads into the opening song…

The Nigga Ya Love To Hate – 1/3 of the Bomb Squad, Eric Sadler, provides a hot instrumental for Cube to go to h.a.m. on, clearly setting the stage for the evening’s proceedings.  I always liked this beat and Cube sounds ride at home over this Bomb Squad production.

Amerikka’s Most Wanted – I’ve never cared much for the Bomb Squad instrumental provided on this title cut.  Cube sounds pretty decent over it as he explains to the listening audience why he’s Amerikkka’s Most Wanted, but the instrumental feels empty, rendering this song only decent.

What They Hittin’ Foe? – Cube spits one long verse about winning a game of craps and the problems that come along with, especially when playing against broke muthafuckas: because according to Cube they make the best crooks.  Production credit goes to the Bomb Squad and Sir Jinx, but I have a feeling this instrumental was more Sir Jinx then Bomb Squad.  Either way, the Average White Band sample is sick and works perfectly with Cube’s story.  Nice.

You Can’t Fade Me – When it comes to great storytelling emcees, Ice Cube is rarely mentioned: this song serves as one of the primary reason why his name should come up in that conversation.  Over a funky Bomb Squad/ Sir Jinx instrumental (again, feels more Sir Jinx influenced than Bomb Squad) Cube share a tell about the “neighborhood hussy” trying to pin her soon to come child on him as the father.  Cube does a masterful job paying attention to detail while providing some hi-larious lines, some which I probably shouldn’t find funny (i.e. his contemplation to kick the chick in her tummy).  This still works very well today.

JD’s Gaffilin’ – Short interlude with O’Shea’s homie, JD (member of Ice Cube’s Da Lench Mob) explaining how he used to “jack them fools for them Nissan trucks” at the McDonald’s drive-thru.  It’s worthy of a chuckle but it’s placement in sequencing kind of made me scratch my head.

Once Upon A Time In The Projects – O’Shea spins another gem of a story: this time about a project chick he goes home with and meets her family before finding out it’s a crack house and ultimately ends his evening behind bars (this definitely wasn’t a good day).  Sir Jinx provides a laid back funk instrumental that serves as the perfect backdrop for Cube’s comical (but sad) story line. The moral of the story: never mess with a girl from the projects, yo!

Turn Off The Radio – After a brief message to the Oreo cookie, Cube goes after radio for not playing more hip-hop (for my younger readers there was a time when urban radio was afraid to play hip-hop, yet alone “hardcore” rap) in their daily rotation.  The Bomb Squad provide an instrumental that is only registers at the decent level, taking away from the overall enjoyment of the song.

Endangered Species (Tales From The Darkside) – O’Shea invites Chuck D into the studio to provide a verse for this one.  The Bomb Squad’s instrumental is all over the place, and in this case that is not a good thing.  It should come as a surprise to no one that Chuck D sound right at home over this instrumental, while Cube sounds like he’s trying to keep pace with the beat and never quite catches up. Never cared for this song in the past and I’m sticking to my story, mon.

A Gangsta’s Fairytale – Over a bangin’ Sir Jinx/Eric Sadler concoction O’Shea remixes a few of your favorite childhood fairy tales and nursery rhymes, giving them a little gangsta touch.  Pretty comical, especially the ad-libs from the kid throughout the song and the Mother Goose sample from Andrew Dice Clay.   

I’m Only Out For One Thang – Well, since the Bomb Squad produced the album and Chuck D got a verse, its only right that Flavor gets to make a cameo…right?  Wrong.  Flavor spits a nonsensical verse about trying to screw a chick (that he apparently can’t find the right hole to put it in), and he sounds like he drank a lake of tequilla (seriously, I can’t even make out half of the stuff he says on his verse).  Cube easily raps circles around his guest, even though he sounds bored with the Sir Jinx instrumental.  This won’t require more than one spin, and its short length is a plus.

Get Off My D*** And Tell Yo B**** To Come Here – Cube spits one verse over a semi-funky Bomb Squad instrumental… not much to see here, folks.

The Drive By – Interlude/skit of…you’re smart enough to figure it out.

Rollin’ Wit The Lench Mob – One would think this would be a posse cut for the Lench Mob members, but it’s not.  It’s just Cube talking about his crew.  That’s all I got.

Who’s The Mack? – Classic.  Over a rough but laid back Bomb Squad instrumental Cube spit three scenarios illustrating the art of macking while answering the song title’s rhetorical question.  If you get as chance, youtube the video to this one.  Hi-larious (here’s the link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ko0llmBIELI&ob=av2e).

It’s A Man’s World – Cube introduces the only female member of the Lench Mob, Yo-Yo on this duet as both emcees do their part to rep for their respective genders.  Over yet another funky Sir Jinx instrumental both artist provide solid rhymes (though I suspect O’Shea wrote Yo-Yo’s lines) making this a pretty entertaining listen.

The Bomb – Never cared for this song.

My copy of Amerikkka’s Most Wanted includes the additional bonus track:

Endangered Species (Tales From The Darkside) (Remix) – Sounds the same as the original, only a minute longer than it’s predecessor with a bunch of extra noise added in for S&G.  And with that AMW is a wrap.

Amerikkka’s Most Wanted displays Ice-Cube as a socially conscious emcee, balanced with the same gangsta qualities that NWA fans had come to know and love.  Adding the socially aware piece to his repertoire definitely gives our jerry curled friend more to talk about on AMW than in his former life.  

Did The Source Get It Right? After this statement I know some might want to revoke my “hip-hop head” license (and other might want my head on a platter): Amerikkka’s Most Wanted is not worthy of 5 mics.  There are a few great songs and a handful of good songs, but there are also enough mediocre joints to make AMW only worthy of 4 mics.  Let the stoning begin.

-Deedub

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One Response to Ice Cube – Amerikkka’s Most Wanted (May 16, 1990)

  1. tony a.wilson says:

    I disagree homeboy!! This album is one of my faves. Cube showed the world he could carry the weight. Doesn’t sound as good as it did when it was released, but still bangs. Jerry Heller and Eazy fucked up big time letting him get away.

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