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May 10, 2008

{     Ice Cube's Death Certificate     }    

After careful examination of his career trajectory, in addition to current market trend analysis and extensive demographic research, it becomes clear that the strength of Ice Cube's street knowledge rested in that drip-droppy Jheri Curl of his. I realize that some of you may be scoffing at the notion of Cube being some sort of modern-day ghetto fabulous Samson, but to those people I say look at the facts. Cube's Soul-Glo-era is virtually impeccable: Straight Outta Compton with NWA (aka the Voltron of Jheri Curl), Amerikkka's Most Wanted, Kill at Will and Boyz N Da Hood are all steady drippin’ perfection and activated like a mufucka. This fool shaves his head and what do we get: Anaconda, “We Be Clubbin”, and Are We There Yet? You do the math.

But "Hey!" you might say, "What about Death Certificate!?!"

Alright then, naysayer. Mr. Johnny New Jack. Let's consider Death Certificate. Cube's last good album and what many consider his best. A key work in the Cube canon, as the album also represents the turning point where Cube went from curl to hurl. Let me set the stage.

Once upon a time in the projects, yo… I’m playin' (couldn’t resist).
It was 1991. Fresh off the success of a classic solo debut and a solid EP (not to mention the success with his former group), my man came in to the studio to record a new album drippin’ harder than Jermaine Jackson, Randy Watson and Kurtis Blow combined. For real, at this point, Cube is steady leavin an oil slick behind him on some ol’ Spy Hunter-type-shit.

But there was something different in the air. A wind of change. Cube seemed troubled. We now know that the all-consuming invincible power that had manifested itself within that meticulous creature atop his head had become too much for one man to harness and Cube knew it. The grim reality was that the drip-droppy source of Cube's chi had become both a blessing and a curse. Ice knew that one day he would have to do the unthinkable and shave his head in order to unleash this power back into the metaphysical realm where it belonged and leave his bulletproof life of gangsta rap perfection behind him. But Cube also realized that once the holy curls were left to dry on the barbershop floor, his foreboding visions of Torque and “Bop Gun” would become realities. A dreadful cross to bear, indeed.

So late one dark and stormy night inside his vocal booth, Cube mustered up all his courage and shaved off those curls in a scene of supernatural not all that different from the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. You ever wonder what happened to Da Lench Mob? Their faces melted off that very night. (Sir Jinx was spared as he wisely heeded Cube’s desperate pleads to keep his eyes shut.) What ensued can only be described as an inter-dimensional pyrotechnics display set forth into motion by forces we have not been able to fully comprehend yet. I’m speaking of a form of fantasia firmly anchored in our collective reality while simultaneously being imperviously defiant of all logic and reason, like that of the ravings from a delusional madman. Imagine an all-encompassing St. Ides and Jheri Curl Juice-fueled wave of pure energy sweeping out from Cube's freshly-shaven dome, across Crenshaw, and penetrating deep into the hard streets of South Central Los Skanless. Some say this energy would later spark the notorious race riots that would take place in this very locale only a few months later (in addition to planting the seed that would eventually give rise to the Williams sisters and guide their ascension through the ranks of tennis superstardom in the years to come).

Overjoyed at their long-last exodus outside of the Jheri curl cocoon that they had decided to manifest in oh so many moons ago, these newly-freed universal elements of holy creation proved generous and thankful once more. The other-worldly powers that resided in Cube's Exxon-endorsed locks were to give their former master one last gift for keeping them activated for all those many years, that is before departing forever and consequently dooming him to a life of mediocre has-been rapping and questionable acting. They would choose to physically-manifest themselves once more within the very lair that Cube and his curls had risen to such prominence within, his recording studio... if only for a little while. It is there that they would ultimately guide their former owner and master into creating the greatest gangsta rap album the world has ever known. And they did just that. Angelic whispers of Compton Xanadu beckoned forth from Olympian heights never to be reached again, as Cube and his curls' swan song jointly taught the world to sing.

It is said that just as Moses' stone tablets would eventually crumble, the media of this era that were supposed to carry these holy messages of divinity to the masses proved faulty... as vinyl and cassettes could only stand so much from the blinding light contained within before wilting under the blaze of Cube's curls' magnum opus. Warping and melting if not immediate implosion upon impact, a new carrier was to be invented for the sole purpose of withstanding the megaton pressure from serving as vessel for this godly communicado of rare and exquisite beauty. For the people that lay in wait of the good word, the compact disc was invented... but this, friends, is another story.

Cube has slyly hinted at this gangsta's fairy tale numerous times throughout the rest of his career, even going so far as saying he recorded Death Certificate "like a man possessed".... and maybe he was.

R.I.P. Jheri. Pour some on the curb for my dead homie.

     » the house that Jheri built


DubOne's been spinning Arrested Dcvelopment's "Everyday People" as part of his 80's/90's gig lately, and everrrtime Speech busts out that line

"I told the niggaz please let us pass, friend
I said please cause I don't like killing Africans
but he wouldn't stop
and I ain't Ice Cube
but I had to take the brother out for being rude"

it makes me smile a little bit.
Cuz that line used to have teeth. Now it's gummier than a great-granny BJ....

Posted by: Adam at May 12, 2008 6:59 PM

Seriously dude you guys need to give more credit than you give. His jheri curls days were monumental. Straight Outta Compton and Amerikkkas Most Wanted are out of this world classics. But Death Certificate is absolutely one of the best albums ever. Content wise and theme he nailed it better than anyone in the game than and since. Also have you even heard The Predator? Come on man how can you front on that shit? Than Lethal Injection is short but still banging till this day. Bump Ghetto Bird and tell me thats not the shit. And the first Westside Connection album and Raw Footage. Thats a better track record than Nas or Jay or Lil Wayne or anyone.Cause he never put out pure nonsense.So what he put out You Can Do It.There wouldn't have been a Big or a Pac or anyone that even uses profanity in their lyrics.Shit there wouldn't even be a Chris Tucker. He affected so many with his music. Dr Dre wouldn't have a career without his lyrics, Eazy E. And by the way Sir Jinx produce on the predator album also. So give respect to this man. So what if he does family oriented shit he's a grown ass man and he can do whatever he wants.Cause if he was in your present you would still be intimidating dude.

Posted by: Cre8ive at September 2, 2009 4:58 AM
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