Before Ice Cube was known for his roles in Ride Along, 21 Jump Street, and Are We There Yet?, he was a rapper. Not just any rapper, but one of the most important emcees of all-time. MTV, The Source, and Allmusic all rate Ice Cube as one of the greatest rappers to ever pick up a microphone.
To his fans, Ice Cube is a brutally honest storyteller who’s never afraid to tackle significant social issues. To his detractors, his music is violent, misogynistic, and racist. Regardless of where you stand on the controversial Ice Cube, you must agree that he’s one of the main progenitors of gangsta rap.
A seminal moment in Ice Cube’s career came when he performed at a party hosted by Dr. Dre. When Dr. Dre began making records he tapped Ice Cube’s skills as a lyricist. Cube worked with Dr. Dre on the World Class Wreckin’ Cru song “Cabbage Patch.” Then in 1986, Cube and Dre released the single “She’s a Skag” under the name The Stereo Crew. The following year, under the name C.I.A. (Cru in Action!), Cube and Dre released the single “My Posse.”
Ice Cube rose to national prominence when he joined the rap group N.W.A. with Dre, Easy-E, DJ Yella, and Arabian Prince (soon after that MC Ren). N.W.A. was one of the first big gangsta rap acts. They also helped popularize west coast hip hop. Their debut release, Straight Outta Compton (1988), is not only one of the greatest rap albums of all-time but it’s one of the greatest albums period. It was also the first hip hop album to receive a five-star review from Rolling Stone magazine.
Ice Cube released his first solo album, AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted, in 1990. It was the first of seven straight releases that earned platinum status. In 1992, Ice Cube celebrated his first number one album when The Predator debuted on top of the Billboard 200. The album contains one of Ice Cube’s most popular songs, “It Was a Good Day.”
Ice Cube was born on June 15, 1969 in Los Angeles. His real name is O’Shea Jackson. His father worked at UCLA and his mother at a hospital. When Ice Cube was twelve, his half-sister was murdered by her boyfriend who subsequently committed suicide. Ice Cube began listening to rap and hip hop in his early teens. He started writing lyrics while still in high school.