May 15th, 1990 marks the release of Ice Cube’s first solo album, a landmark Hip Hop social commentary known as AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted. When the album title alone doubles as a political statement, you know you’re in for a heavy record, and that’s exactly what Cube delivered. After management and financial disputes drove Cube’s split from N.W.A., he teamed up with New York based production team, The Bomb Squad, who were best known for their work with Public Enemy, introduced his own rap crew, Da Lynch Mob, and dropped this ferocious album. At this point in Hip Hop’s timeline, with both Ice T and N.W.A. well established, the Hip Hop sub-genre known as ‘gangsta rap’ was hitting the mainstream.
That said, Cube’s raw socio-political edge gave AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted more punch than its gangsta rap predecessors. It also helped establish Ice Cube, the solo act, as a major force in Hip Hop going forward. The album peaked at #19 on the Billboard charts with the title track reaching #1 on the U.S. rap singles charts. The success of this album proved to everyone, including his former N.W.A. posse, that Ice Cube had the talent and mass appeal to make it on his own.
I remember loving this record as a 10 year old way back when, even though I was probably too young to have been listening to it. My favorite cut on the album on the time was “A Gangsta’s Fairytale” which was less a political track and more an inner-city play on some of our favorite childhood fairytale characters such as Mother Goose and Humpty Dumpty. Lyrics about Cinderella and Snow White fighting over the Seven Dwarves cracked me up then and still do today.
Other notable tracks include the politically charged “The Ni**a Ya Love to Hate”, the smoothed out and brutally honest “Once Upon in the Projects”, and the Yo-yo assisted gender wars commentary, “It’s a Man World”, where Yo-yo poignantly points out that “it wouldn’t be a damn thing without a woman’s touch.” I couldn’t agree more.
Shout outs to Ice Cube for turning what was potentially a career threatening situation in leaving N.W.A. into the best decision he could’ve possibly made. And to any new school and old school cats alike not hip to AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted, do yourself a favor and give it a spin. It’s a great listen and many of its messages are still relevant today. The word classic gets tossed around a lot these days within Hip Hop circles, but this album is certainly one befitting of the title, in my humble opinion.
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Kicking sh*t called street knowledge
Why more ni**as in the pen than in college?
Now cause of that line I might be your cellmate
That’s from the ni**a ya love to hate
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