India Arie
Blessid Union of Souls
Tracy Chapman
Ani Difranco
Fisk Univ. Jubilee Singers
Gil Scott Heron
Ice Cube
Mason Jennings
Talib Kweli
Bob Marley
Curtis Mayfield
Prussian Blue
Public Enemy
Jill Scott
Tupac Shakur
The Band
Kanye West


8 Mile
A Time to Kill
American History X
Bend It Like Beckham
Boys Don't Cry
Gentleman's Agreement
G.I. Jane
The Green Mile
Guess Who
Hotel Rwanda
I Am Sam
Malcolm X
Mi Familia
Mississippi Burning
Out of the Ashes
Pleasantville (1)
Pleasantville (2)
Real Women Have Curves
Schindler's List
Something New
The Birth of a Nation
The Pianist
To Kill a Mockingbird


Ice Cube

Ice Cube, born O’Shea Jackson, began his entertainment career in the ninth grade. He accepted a challenge from a classmate to see who could write the best rap. Ice Cube recalls winning, and his itch for the microphone began to intensify. He started a group called the C.I.A. with friends Sir Jinx and K-Dee. From there, Ice Cube was introduced to Dr. Dre. These two young entrepreneurs began to rap dirty lyrics over popular songs in the nightclubs of South Central Los Angeles. Crowds began to catch on to their music, so they started making mixed tapes. “We would rap on what was going on in the neighborhood and they were selling. Eazy-E had a partner named Ron-de-Vu, Dre was in the World Class Wreckin’ Crew, and I was in the C.I.A. We were all committed to these groups so we figured we’d make an all-star group and just do dirty records on the side” ( In 1987, these pioneers of gangster rap formed the group Niggaz With Attitudes (N.W.A.). 

Ice Cube’s lyrics on one of N.W.A.’s first singles, F**k tha Police, signaled the emergence of more “conscious” music. This music provided points of view that were different from those in suburban America: 

                   F**k tha police
                   Comin straight from the underground
                   Young nigga got it bad cuz i'm brown
                   And not the other color so police think
                   They have the authority to kill a minority
                   (© 2002 Priority Records; From:

The reality for inner-city teenagers was police brutality, discrimination, unemployment, and gang violence. The song’s lyrics illustrate the feelings of a young African-American male growing up in most inner cities in the United States. The stance taken by the group did go unnoticed. Milt Ahlerich, Assistant Director of the FBI, sent letters to record labels condemning the song. He warned that “advocating violence and assault and we in the law enforcement community take exception to such action” ( The attention paid to the group by the federal government only made record sales soar. 

After breaking away from N.W.A., Ice Cube’s debut was AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted, a highly anticipated solo album that vocally lashed the law enforcement, political, and judicial systems. This platinum album was not the last the public heard from him. Ice Cube began to read reflective self-study materials, coupled with the teachings of the Nation of Islam, Minister Louis Farrakhan, and the Elijah Muhammed. As a result, Ice Cube came back even more hard core and full of rage and hostility toward certain groups. For example, his views were sometimes considered to be anti-Semitic. This caused his sophomore effort, Death Certificate, to be publicly condemned by Billboard magazine. However, this didn’t stop the record from going platinum and reaching #2 on the charts. Advanced copies of The Predator, his third album, were in such great demand that the album went platinum in four days. 

Unfortunately, the era of “conscious” rap came to a close. Ice Cube began to lose his luster as “hip-hop” and “G-funk” style music emerged. Still, during this period, he released Lethal Injection, his fourth album in four years. However, demand for him to act in movies grew larger, so he shifted his concentration. But he didn’t shift his views. This was clear when Ice Cube came back for an encore in 1998 and 2000 with the double album War and Peace, Volumes 1 and 2, his final albums at this date. 

Ice Cube, the original face of gangster rap, is considered a pioneer and one of the best to make a profession out of rap music. He continues to voice his opinions, challenge the privileged system through the characters he plays on the silver screen, and proves himself whenever other artists call upon him for lyrical support. 


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