These days, the word “classic” is thrown around as loosely as a Nerf ball at a picnic. However, we at TRU consider classics to be something which stand the test of time and have a resounding influence on their respective fields. But how do albums considered classics sound to the ears of TRU’s young blood? Aaron J. McKrell was born in 1990 and we’ve convinced him to turn his scope on a classic from the rich history of hip-hop to view it through a contemporary lens in a weekly series we call…
I chose to begin the ’90s with Amerikkka’s Most Wanted. And man, was it a good choice. Read on for my thoughts on Ice Cube’s solo debut. The first thing I noticed about this album is that Ice Cube is angry. What is he angry at, you ask? The short answer is everything. Well, almost everything. Having just left N.W.A. after disputes with Eazy E and Jerry Heller, Cube is in extra-Bobby Knight mode. Racists, cops, women, the U.S. government, law enforcement, detractors of his music, pop rappers, black sellouts, mainstream radio, and the media are, among others, the targets of his venomous rage. Fortunately, Cube is a rebel with a cause, exposing society’s ills with a point rather than just rattling off a laundry list of thing and people he hates. “The N***a Ya Love to Hate” and the title track are great examples of the effectiveness of his anger.
Without Dr. Dre manning the boards, Cube turned to The Bomb Squad to provide production. The Squad does a great job backing Cube’s heavy hitting lyrics with sample-heavy production that is rough, rugged and raw. The hard, up-tempo drums set a crazy pace for Cube’s angry flow and menacing delivery. It’s clear this album was in 2Pac’s CD changer when he was recording 2Pacalypse Now and Strictly 4 My N****Z. Life after N.W.A. finds O’Shea still down with hood reportage; he kicks tales of broken homes, black-on-black violence, and pregnancy with commanding presence and honest conviction. “Once Upon a Time in the Projects” in particular paints a pretty bleak picture of ‘hood life.’ “The Drive-By” is equally shocking, and contains a line that sums up the source of much of Cube’s rage: “Outside the South Central area, few cared about the violence because it didn’t affect them.”
This album contains no weak links and is filled to the brim with dope production and eye-opening lyricism. Chuck D even drops in for an ice cold verse on “Endangered Species.” The only flaw this album has is its extreme misogyny. Cube’s blatant disrespect for women detracts from the righteously angry theme that is present on most of Amerikkka’s Most Wanted. “I’m Only Out for One Thing” and “Get Off my Dick and Tell Yo Bitch to Come Here” just don’t fit in with the rest of the album. Cube does opens up the conversation with women on “It’s a Man’s World,” trading grievances about the opposite sex with femcee Yo-Yo. Even though Cube’s disrespect to women is present throughout, the fact he concedes to Yo-Yo’s talent hints that he may have been less misogynistic than he appeared.
This album is still extra dope in 2011. Even though some of the specific topics are dated, many still plague our society today. Regardless, Amerikkka’s Most Wanted is powerful album that is true to its time and should be preserved for future generations.
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