O'Shea Jackson (born June 15, 1969), better known by his stage name Ice Cube, is an American rapper, actor, screenwriter, and producer. He began his career as a member of the rap group N.W.A along with group leader Eazy-E, and later launched a successful solo career in music and cinema. In 1992, he married Kimberly Woodruff, with whom he has four children. From the mid-1990s onwards, Cube focused on acting, and his musical output has slowed down considerably. He remains one of the most visible West Coast rappers, having helped originate gangsta rap.
Life and career
Ice Cube was born O'Shea Jackson in South Central Los Angeles, California, where he was raised, the son of Doris Jackson (n?e Benjamin), a hospital clerk and custodian, and Andrew Jackson, who worked as a groundskeeper at UCLA. His cousin is Teren Delvon Jones, also known as Del tha Funkee Homosapien, of Deltron 3030, Gorillaz and Hieroglyphics. At age sixteen, Ice Cube developed an interest in hip hop music, and began writing raps in Taft High School's keyboarding class. He attended the Phoenix Institute of Technology in the fall of 1987, and studied Architectural Drafting. With friend Sir Jinx, Cube formed the C.I.A., and they performed at parties hosted by Dr. Dre. In an interview with well-known British broadsheet newspaper, The Guardian, Ice Cube stated he is a Muslim, having converted sometime in the 1990s.
Main article: N.W.A
In 1987 Cube and Dr. Dre released the EP My Posse, under the alias CIA. After the collaboration, Cube showed Eazy-E the lyrics to "Boyz-n-the-Hood". Eazy-E, although initially rejecting the lyrics, eventually recorded the song for N.W.A. and the Posse, the debut album for the group N.W.A (short for Niggaz With Attitude) that included him, Cube, Dre, and other rappers MC Ren and DJ Yella.
By this point Cube was a full-time member of N.W.A along with Dr. Dre and (to a lesser extent) MC Ren. Cube wrote Dr. Dre and Eazy-E's rhymes for the group's landmark album, Straight Outta Compton, released in 1988. However, as 1990 approached, Cube found himself at odds with the group's manager, Jerry Heller, after Heller responded to the group's financial questions by drafting up a new arrangement. As he explains in his book:
"Heller gave me this contract, and I said I wanted a lawyer to see it. He almost fell out of his chair. I guess he figured, how this young muthaf**ka turn down all this money? Everybody else signed. I told them I wanted to make sure my shit was right first."
Since Cube wrote the lyrics to approximately half of both Straight Outta Compton, and Eazy-E's solo album, Eazy-Duz-It, Cube was advised of the amounts he was truly owed by Heller, and proceeded to take legal action, soon after leaving the group and the label. In response, the remaining N.W.A members attacked Cube on the EP 100 Miles and Runnin', as well as their next and final album, Efil4zaggin(niggaz4lifE spelled backwards).
Cube recorded his debut solo album in Los Angeles with the Bomb Squad (Public Enemy's production team). AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted was released in 1990 and was an instant hit, riding and contributing to the rising tide of rap's popularity in mainstream society. The album was charged with controversy, and Cube was accused of misogyny, and racism. Subsequently, Cube appointed the female rapper Yo-Yo (who appeared on AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted) to the head of his own record label and helped produce her debut album, Make Way for the Motherlode. This was followed by a critically acclaimed role as 'Doughboy' in John Singleton's hood-based drama, Boyz N the Hood. In the same year as AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted, Cube released the acclaimed EP, Kill At Will. Kill At Will sold well becoming the first hip hop EP to go both Gold and Platinum.
His 1991 follow-up, Death Certificate was regarded as more focused, yet even more controversial, and critics accused him again of being anti-white, misogynist, and antisemitic. The album is thematically divided into the 'Death Side' ("a vision of where we are today") and the 'Life Side' ("a vision of where we need to go"). It features "No Vaseline," a scathing response to N.W.A's attacks and "Black Korea," a track regarded by some as prophetic of the L.A. riots, but also interpreted as racist by many; it was still being cited years after its release. Cube toured with Lollapalooza in 1992, which widened his fan base.
Cube released The Predator in November 1992, which had been recorded amidst the LA uprising of 1992. Referring specifically to the riots, in the first single, "Wicked", Cube rapped "April 29 was power to the people and we might just see a sequel". The Predator debuted at number one on both the pop and R&B charts, the first album in history to do so. Singles from The Predator included "It Was a Good Day" and the "Check Yo Self" remix, and the songs had a two part music video. The album remains Cube's most successful release, with over three million copies sold in the US. However, after The Predator, Cube's rap audience slowly began to diminish. Lethal Injection which was released in the end of 1993 and represented Cube's first attempt at imitating the G-Funk sound of Dr. Dre's The Chronic, was not well received by critics. He had more successful hits from Lethal Injection, including "Really Doe", "Bop Gun (One Nation)", "You Know How We Do It" & "What Can I Do?". After 1994, he took a hiatus from music and concentrated on film work and developing the careers of other rap musicians, such as Mack 10, and Mr. Short Khop.
In 1995, Ice Cube had reunited with former N.W.A member Dr. Dre, who was now part of Death Row Records, in their duet "Natural Born Killaz". In 1998, Cube released his long-awaited solo album, War & Peace Volume 1. The delayed second part, War & Peace Volume 2, was released in 2000. The albums featured appearances from Westside Connection as well as a reunion with fellow N.W.A members, Dr. Dre and MC Ren, though many fans maintained that the two albums weren't on par with his past work, especially the second volume. In 2000, Cube also joined Dr. Dre, Eminem & Snoop Dogg on the Up In Smoke Tour.
In 2006, Ice Cube released his seventh solo album, Laugh Now, Cry Later, on his Da Lench Mob Records label, debuting at number four on the Billboard Charts and selling 144,000 units in the first week. The album featured production from Lil Jon and Scott Storch, who produced the lead single "Why We Thugs".
He released his eighth studio album, Raw Footage, on August 19th 2008. It features the controversial single "Gangsta Rap Made Me Do It".
In 1996, Cube formed Westside Connection with Mack 10 and WC, and together they released an album called Bow Down. Most of the album was used to engage in the war of words between the East and West Coasts of the 90s. The album's eponymous single reached number twenty-one on the singles charts, and the album itself was certified Platinum by the end of 1996. With Bow Down, Westside Connection brought their own agenda to the hip hop scene. Ice Cube, Mack 10, and WC had grown tired of being overlooked by most East Coast media outlets; the album was designed to instill a sense of pride in West Coast rap fans and to start a larger movement that anyone who felt underappreciated might identify with. Songs like "Bow Down" and "Gangstas Make the World Go 'Round" make reference to this. Cube would also eventually make amends with Eazy-E shortly before the latter's death in 1995. After a seven-year hiatus, Westside Connection returned with their second effort Terrorist Threats in 2003. The album fared well critically, but its commercial reception was less than that of Bow Down. "Gangsta Nation" was the only single released from the album, which featured Nate Dogg and was a radio hit. After a rift occurred between Cube and Mack 10, regarding Cube's commitments to film work rather than touring with the group, Westside Connection disbanded. WC, however is still friends with Ice Cube and released a new solo album on Lench Mob Records entitled Guilty by Affiliation on August 14, 2007.
Collaborations and film work
In 1992, while taking a break from his own output, Cube assisted on debut albums from Da Lench Mob (Guerillas in tha Mist, 1992) and Kam (Neva Again, 1993), both of which enjoyed critical acclaim and some moderate commercial success. He handled most of the production on 'Guerillas in tha Mist.
In 1993, Lench Mob member, J-Dee, was sentenced to life imprisonment for attempted murder, and Cube did not produce their next album, Planet of tha Apes. Around this time in 1993, Cube also worked with Tupac Shakur on his album Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z., appearing on the track "Last Words" with Ice-T. He also did a song with Dr. Dre for the first time since he left N.W.A: "Natural Born Killaz", for the Murder Was The Case soundtrack, and also contributed to the Office Space soundtrack. He also featured on Kool G Rap's song "Two To The Head" from the Kool G Rap & DJ Polo album "Wanted: Dead Or Alive" Cube appeared on the song "Children of the Korn" by the band Korn, and lent his voice to British DJ Paul Oakenfold's solo debut album, Bunkka, on the track "Get Em Up".
Following his role as 'Doughboy' in Boyz n the Hood, in 1992 he starred alongside Ice-T, and Bill Paxton in Walter Hill's action film, Trespass, and then in The Glass Shield.
John Singleton had encouraged Cube to try his hand at screenwriting, telling him, "if you can write a record, you can write a movie." With this encouragement, Ice Cube wrote the screenplay for what became the 1995 comedy Friday, in which he also starred, alongside then-upcoming comedian Chris Tucker. Friday became a hit, earning $28 million worldwide on a $3.5 million budget, and spawned two sequels, Next Friday and Friday After Next.
That year he also starred in his second collaboration with John Singleton, Higher Learning, as world-weary university student, "Fudge"; a role for which he earned award nominations.
He had a supporting role in 1997's Anaconda. He wrote, executive produced, and made his directorial debut in The Players Club in 1998, and in 1999, starred alongside George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg in the critically acclaimed Three Kings. In 2000, he wrote and appeared in the Friday sequel Next Friday. In 2002, Ice Cube starred in the commercially successful movie Barbershop, as well as All About the Benjamins and the third film in the Friday trilogy, Friday after Next (which he again wrote). In 2004, he appeared in Barbershop 2: Back in Business, and Torque. In 2005, Ice Cube starred in the action movie XXX: State of the Union and then acted in the 2005 comedy, Are We There Yet?, co-starring Nia Long.
In early April 2007 Ice Cube was a guest on Angie Martinez' Hot97 radio show and stated that he was interested in bringing back Chris Tucker as Smokey in a possible Friday sequel, but that was only possible if "New Line cuts the check." In an interview with BlackFilm.com, Ice Cube stated that he would be interested in involving all major characters from the Friday franchise in a possible sequel, but added "I know I'm not going to get Chris back, but I'd love to get everybody else back."
In the Movies is a compilation album of Ice Cube songs that have appeared in movie soundtracks, which was released on September 4, 2007.
Ice Cube and basketball star LeBron James have paired up to pitch a one-hour special to ABC based on James' life.
In 2004, his hit singles "Check Yo Self", "It Was a Good Day" and affiliated song "Guerrillas in tha Mist" with Da Lench Mob appeared on popular video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas playing on fictional radio stations.
In late 2005, Ice Cube and Emmy Award winning film maker R. J. Cutler, teamed up to create the six-part documentary series titled Black. White., which was broadcast on cable network FX. In May 2006 Ice Cube accused Oprah Winfrey of not welcoming rappers on her show, and specifically, for not inviting him to the show when the rest of the cast of films that he participated in were invited. Cube's other movie projects include Teacher of the Year, released in 2007, and The Extractors, released in 2008. Cube has also completed Are We Done Yet?, the sequel to 2005's successful Are We There Yet?.
He has also signed on to star in and produce Welcome Back, Kotter, a big screen adaptation of the 1970s television series. Cube will play the title character, who was originally portrayed by Gabe Kaplan. Cube?s film company, Cube Vision Productions, has sealed a deal with Dimension Films to bring the show to the big screen.
In an interview in London, he revealed he is in talks of a collaboration with Gorillaz after speaking to front man Damon Albarn.
In October 2006, Ice Cube was an honoree at VH1's Annual Hip Hop Honors. Ice Cube was honored by Xzibit, Lil Jon and WC from the Westside Connection, all hitting the stage to perform some of Cube's classic tracks, and Ice Cube also performed "Why We Thugs" and "Go To Church" from his latest album, Laugh Now, Cry Later, where the strong N.Y.C crowd were greeted with Cube's vintage Cali sound.
Father of four, Cube was asked by Fresh Air's Terry Gross to provide some perspective on the relationship between his work and his family. When asked whether or not he allowed his children to listen to his music, he responded: "What's worked for me is instilling in my kids a level of self-respect," helping them to understand the content of not just music but the violence found on the evening news. When asked what he tells his children about profanity, he recalled telling his kids that there are "appropriate times to use any kind of language.... Adults should never hear you use these words. If you want to use these words around your friends, that's really on you."
After launching his new come-back album Laugh Now, Cry Later, Ice Cube has been touring across the world to promote the new album. The tour is known as "Straight Outta Compton Tour", and accompanying him along the way is his fellow friend and rapper WC from the Westside Connection. Some places he has recently performed include the Paradiso in Amsterdam, and in various venues in England. After touring all over the U.S. and Europe, his next destination was the Far East, including Australia, New Zealand and Japan. He performed all around Australia with his vintage no-holds barred West Coast style, from Sydney's Enmore Theatre, to The Forum Arena in Melbourne. After Australia, he headed to Japan.
Recently, Ice Cube has also collaborated with Tech N9ne on the song "Blackboy" that appears on Tech N9ne's July 2008 album Killer.
Ice Cube released his eighth studio LP, titled Raw Footage, on August 19, 2008. It featured the street single Gangsta Rap Made Me Do It and Do Ya Thang. The album debuted at number one on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and Top Rap Albums Chart, and at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 chart.
Ice Cube appeared on a song by rapper The Game titled "State of Emergency" off The Game's Album, L.A.X. In 2009 Cube will be part of the 10th annual Gathering of the Juggalos hosted by the Insane Clown Posse.
Helter Skelter Project
After Dr. Dre left N.W.A and Ruthless Records, he and Cube fostered a brief reunion. They planned a new project together, Helter Skelter, also to include appearances by MC Ren and Snoop Dogg with writing from The D.O.C.. Tiring of his label's gangster rap image, Dre admonished Cube to follow an "end of the world type of ". When reporters asked the pair what they were working on in Dre's studio, they joked N.W.E. - Niggaz Without Eazy.
The two quickly recorded a heavily P-Funk-influenced song with George Clinton called "You Can't See Me"; the song would later be taken by Suge and used for 2Pac's Death Row debut, which Dre had been neglecting. Dre instead began work on beats for Helter Skelter, bouncing concepts off an increasingly disgruntled D.O.C. who, despite severed vocal cords and Dre's advice, wanted to rap. Eventually he got fed up and moved out of Dre's house to Atlanta, taking his possessions with him - as well as the reels of music - to record his own version of Helter Skelter. With other personal and business commitments by Dre, work on the album trailed off and eventually stopped. Despite the lost project, a few songs remain. Natural Born Killaz, which originally featured Sam Sneed, was the inspiration for the rest of the album. The track "Game Over" found on Scarface's The Untouchable album and from Featuring?Ice Cube was an original cut from the album. Other songs were either unfinished or are unreleased. Many of the lyrics for the album can be heard on the D.O.C.'s spiteful 1996 album, "Helter Skelter".