From Everythangs Corrupt, out now.
It’s kind of insane to think I’ve been loving Ice Cube for almost thirty years. I remember it was my freshman year of college, before everybody’s friend groups had solidified, when you’d leave your dorm room door open and people would just pop in to comment on your posters or the music on your stereo. I can’t remember his name or even what he looked like, but some dude came by and for whatever reason he decided I needed a tape with Straight Outta Compton on one side and Eazy-Duz-It on the flip. And I’m not sure if I’m just making this up but I think he also told me to look out for Ice Cube’s upcoming debut solo album. Before that I had only known about Eazy-E, but this benevolent stranger (was he an angel?) schooled me on how Cube wrote all the songs and was the guy to watch.
It took a while for those albums to sink in. So many words coming at me so fast! But I knew this was “important” music so I invested my time. I listened to that tape over and over until I knew all the words and could pretty much figure out what they were talking about. I appreciated it, of course, when they would define some of their slang in the middle of a song, like in “I Ain’t tha 1” when Cube taught me that “Ganked means getting took for your bank or your gold or your money or something.” Anyway, before I knew it, I was a superfan, convinced that I was down with the capital C-P-T.
It’s ridiculous and embarrassing now to look back at my 19 year old self who truly believed that I could understand the African American experience because I had read some Malcolm X and Toni Morrison and listened to a bunch of hop hop. A couple years later a sociology professor busted my chops for using hip hop lingo in the underground newspaper my friends had started. I couldn’t grasp how she could possibly question my authority to appropriate this culture. Sure, I was a suburban white kid attending a small, private liberal arts college, but but but… I was down!
Even when I picked up Small Talk at 125th and Lenox on vinyl and listened to “Comment #1” I naturally assumed that Gil Scott-Heron was talking about some other “four year revolutionary.” Not me! Turns out, I was that “silly trite motherfucker” after all. That’s a tough pill to swallow for an idealistic young person. But so it goes.
Regardless, even after my heavy doses of self-reflection, I still love Ice Cube.
Which reminds me: Did I ever tell you about the time I listened to all of the Funkadelic albums in reverse chronological order in one sitting? That, my friends, was an experience.