Ice Cube - AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted
NME.COM feature on Ice Cube - AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted album including album review, artwork, tracks, listen now, tour dates, discography and more.
Release date: 14 February 2003
No peace for the formerly wicked...
- Apr 14, 2000
Last night 2,000 moles visited the grave of recently clogpopped Poet Laureate [B]Ted Hughes[/B] and dug him up....
- Oct 16, 1998
The former architecture student says The Eames House is 'going green 1949 style, bitch'
The rap star sets his sights on the small screen
It will be the hip-hop legend's only show here this year
Ice Cube - AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted: Wikipedia Album Entry
AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted is rapper Ice Cube's influential debut solo album, released after his acrimonious split from his former group N.W.A. It was originally released on May 16, 1990. Primarily produced by The Bomb Squad (Public Enemy's production team), the album was an unexpectedly large critical and commercial success, and remains one of the defining hip hop albums of the 1990s.
After departing from Ruthless Records and the west coast-based group N.W.A., Ice Cube immediately moved to record his own album. Linking up with Sir Jinx, the cousin of N.W.A. producer Dr. Dre, Cube made use of pre-written notebooks comprised of songs meant for N.W.A. member/Ruthless co-founder Eazy-E. After relocating to New York they worked on the songs, which included "Once Upon a Time in the Projects," "Get Off My Dick and Tell Yo Bitch to Come Here" and "Gangsta's Fairytale," among others.
After contacting Public Enemy's production team The Bomb Squad, they completed the album. The album received a fair share of production credited to various Bomb Squad members, with an appearance by Public Enemy frontman Chuck D, despite Jinx's claims that the only Bomb Squad member fully present was Eric Sadler. Hank Shocklee spoke on meeting and working with Ice Cube in a Cooleh Magazine interview:
Cube contacted me wanting to know if we could do a few tracks for his solo album after the whole NWA thing came to what it was and I was like, I’ll do it if I can do the whole album. And he said, "that’s what I was hoping you would say." And when we were in the studio he showed up with notebooks and notebooks full of new rhymes, a bag full of rhymebooks.
Ice Cube's social, and political commentary, delivered in an incisive manner, has influenced numerous rappers since Amerikka's Most Wanted, particularly in the gangsta rap and political rap subgenres. Focusing on the hardships of life in South Central, Los Angeles, as well as criticizing the American Justice System and race relations in the United States, Cube became an outspoken voice of U.S. social customs tipped against young Black Americans. Under fire from his former group with the diss song "100 Miles and Runnin'," from the EP of the same name, he also recorded the song "Jackin' For Beats," using beats allegedly meant for the next N.W.A. album, which he released on the Kill at Will EP.
With socio-political conscious and gangsta rap content, its songs delve into the issues of ghetto life, drug addiction, racism and poverty. Throughout the album, Ice Cube incessantly attacks institutions for perceived or actual racist tendencies, as well as social norms which directly or indirectly allowed the oppression of those living in the ghettos of Los Angeles to continue. On "Endangered Species (Tales from the Darkside)," he predicts that his neighborhood would become a flash point for violence before 1992's scandal over the beating of Rodney King, and takes police to task for the policies that would later lead to the L.A. riots that resulted.
Throughout the album, Cube takes some controversial stands, referring to certain types of African-Americans as "oreo cookies", an epithet implying that they appear black on the outside, but have, internally, negative white tendencies. Arsenio Hall is specifically mentioned as being a "sell-out." Cube also heavily criticizes R&B and hip hop radio stations for watered-down broadcasting. The title song directly parodies the television show, America's Most Wanted, alleging bias and glee the program displays in arresting Afro-American men.
A later song, "Get Off My Dick, and Tell Yo Bitch to Come Here," returns to the same theme at the end, with newscaster Tom Brokaw reporting on rioting, stating: "Outside the south central area, few cared about the violence because it didn't affect them." He also addressed gender relations on "It's a Man's World", a duet between Cube and female rapper Yo-Yo. Cube and Yo-Yo verbally spar and trade sexist barbs back and forth in an expose of sexism between men and women. Amidst critics' accusing Ice Cube of sexism, Peter Watrous of the The New York Times wrote, in review of a live show at New York's Apollo Theater:
“...no one came out ahead; any new sense of cultural violence or sexism promoted by the record had dissolved into a traditional battle of the sexes, no better or no worse.
The title of the album is an allusion to a television show America's Most Wanted, wherein real-life crimes are reenacted and viewers are asked to call in with any information about the alleged perpetrators. The show has taken criticism for its reenactments. They are believed to perpetuate stereotypes regarding the criminality of African-American men and other minorities, such as Latinos. The intentional misspelling of "America" with three K's equates the show and status quo society with the Ku Klux Klan.
AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted initially charted without the support of a lead single or video, although the title track would later receive a pressing, and a rare video for "Who's the Mack?" eventually surfaced. Regardless of very limited promotion, and airplay, the album shipped 500,000 copies in its first two week out, and was certified Platinum one month later.
Upon the album's release, AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted received mostly positive reviews from critics, and over the years it has been regarded by many as a hip-hop classic. David Jeffries from Allmusic gave the album 5 out of 5 stars and stated; "This street knowledge venom with ultra fast funk works splendidly throughout the album, with every track hitting home ... AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted is a timeless, riveting exercise in anger, honesty, and the sociopolitical possibilities of hip-hop." Davis Mills from the Washington Post praised the album for its lyrical dexterity by stating; "Ice Cube has now proven that he was N.W.A.'s crucial element. He's an unusually gifted rhymer, and his delivery is even more self-assured." Greg Sandow from Entertainment Weekly complimented the album's vivid depictions of urban realities, and stated; "Ice Cube emerges as a rapper most original for his uncompromising tone. He throws ghetto life in our faces and dares us to draw our own conclusions." Rolling Stone originally gave the album 2 1/2 out of 5 stars in 1990, with Alan Light commenting that "The relentless profanity grows wearisome, the Bomb Squad beats lose steam, and Cube's attitudes toward women are simply despicable." He even went on to declare the album as a "disappointment." Rolling Stone, however, gave the album 5 out of 5 stars in 2004, and praised the album for its production, and lyrics.
The title track was the first official single from the album. The song contains samples from "Humpin'" by the Bar-Kays, "There It Is" by James Brown, "Let the Music Take Your Mind" by Kool and the Gang and "Advice" by Sly and the Family Stone. The B-side for the song was "Once Upon a Time in the Projects".
Produced largely by the Bomb Squad during the height of Public Enemy's success, West Coast rap has largely taken a separate direction from the sound present on AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted, despite its initial success. The scene has instead adopted the glossy beats and smooth drawls popularized by Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg.
Although Ice Cube's popularity among mainstream listeners has lessened since the 2000s, and his sound may be considered distinctively old school to modern ears, many rappers themselves have been influenced by his innovative lyrical techniques. His style of rapping about real life sentiment and socio-political awareness influenced the music of West Coast rappers, including that of Tupac, Ras Kass, and Xzibit, as well as East Coast rappers Nas, The Notorious B.I.G., and more recently, Saigon and Southern rapper Young Jeezy. East Coast rapper Redman also covered "Once Upon a Time in the Projects" on his album Doc's Da Name 2000, with the song "Jersey Yo!."
Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
About.com United States 100 Greatest Hip Hop Albums 2008 33
Robert Dimery United States 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die 2005 *
Ego Trip United States Hip Hop's 25 Greatest Albums by Year 1980-98 1999 1
The Guardian United Kingdom 1000 Albums to Hear Before You Die 2007 *
Mixmag United Kingdom The 100 Best Dance Albums of All Time 1996 24
New Musical Express United States Albums of the Year 1990 41
Chris Rock United States Top 25 Hip-Hop Albums 2005 17
Rock De Lux Spain Albums of the Year 1990 46
Rolling Stone United States The Essential Recordings of the 90s 1999 *
The Source United States The 100 Best Rap Albums of All Time 1998 *
Spin United States Top 100 (+5) Albums of the Last 20 Years 2005 33
Spin United States Albums of the Year 1990 1
Spin United States Top 90 Albums of the 90s 1999 80
Tom Moon United States 1000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die 2008 *
Village Voice United States Albums of the Year 1990 6
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