AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted

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AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted
Studio album by Ice Cube
Released May 16, 1990 (1990-05-16)
Recorded January-April 1990
Greene Street Studios, New York City
Genre West Coast hip hop, gangsta rap, political hip hop
Length 49:36
Label Priority
Producer The Bomb Squad, Ice Cube, Chilly Chill, Sir Jinx
Ice Cube chronology
AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted
(1990)
Kill at Will
(1990)
Singles from AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted
  1. "Who's the Mack?"
    Released: 1990
  2. "AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted"
    Released: April 17, 1990
  3. "Endangered Species (Tales from the Darkside)"
    Released: 1990

AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted is the debut album by rapper Ice Cube.[1] It was released after his acrimonious split from his former group N.W.A. It was originally released on May 16, 1990. Primarily produced by Public Enemy's production team The Bomb Squad, the album was an unexpectedly large critical and commercial success, and remains one of the defining hip hop albums of the 1990s.[2][3]

Background[edit]

Conception[edit]

After departing from Ruthless Records and the west coast-based group N.W.A., Ice Cube immediately moved to record his own album. Cube maintains that originally, he and N.W.A. producer Dr. Dre still wanted to collaborate for Cube's debut solo, but the move was nixed by label powers:

So when I went solo, I was like I wanted Dr. Dre to do AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted, but Jerry Heller vetoed that...and I’m pretty sure Eazy didn’t want Dre to do it. But Dre did want to do it; we gotta put that on record. Dre wanted to do my record, but it was just too crazy with the break-up of [N.W.A].

—Ice Cube, XXL, The Making of AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted[4]

Linking up with Sir Jinx, Dr. Dre's cousin, Cube made use of pre-written notebooks of songs meant for N.W.A. member/Ruthless co-founder Eazy-E.[5] After relocating to New York,[6] they worked on the songs, which included "Once Upon a Time in the Projects," "Get Off My Dick & Tell Yo' Bitch to Come Here" and "Gangsta's Fairytale," among others. Under fire from his former group with the song "100 Miles and Runnin'," from the EP of the same name, he also recorded the song "Jackin' For Beats," using beats allegedly planned for use on the next N.W.A. album,[7] though he would use this several months later on the Kill at Will EP.

After contacting Public Enemy's production team The Bomb Squad, they completed the album. The album received a fair share of production credited to various Bomb Squad members, with an appearance by Public Enemy frontman Chuck D, despite Jinx's claims that the only Bomb Squad member fully present was Eric Sadler.[6] Hank Shocklee spoke on meeting and working with Ice Cube in a Cooleh Magazine interview:

Cube contacted me wanting to know if we could do a few tracks for his solo album after the whole NWA thing came to what it was and I was like, I’ll do it if I can do the whole album. And he said, "that’s what I was hoping you would say." And when we were in the studio he showed up with notebooks and notebooks full of new rhymes, a bag full of rhymebooks.

—Hank Shocklee, Cooleh Magazine[8]

Album title[edit]

The title of the album appears to be an allusion to the television show America's Most Wanted, wherein real-life crimes are reenacted and viewers are asked to call in with information about the alleged perpetrators. The intentional misspelling of "America" with three Ks alludes to the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan.

Content[edit]

With socio-political conscious and gangsta rap content, its songs delve into the issues of ghetto life, drug addiction, racism and poverty. Throughout the album, Ice Cube incessantly attacks institutions for perceived or actual racist tendencies, as well as social norms which directly or indirectly allowed the oppression of those living in the ghettos of Los Angeles to continue. On "Endangered Species (Tales from the Darkside)," he predicts that his neighborhood would become a flash point for violence before 1992's scandal over the beating of Rodney King,[9] and takes police to task for the policies that would later lead to the L.A. riots that resulted.

Throughout the album, Cube takes some controversial stands, referring to certain types of African-Americans as "oreo cookies", an epithet implying that they appear black on the outside, but have, internally, negative white tendencies. Arsenio Hall is specifically mentioned as being a "sell-out." Cube also heavily criticizes R&B and hip hop radio stations for watered-down broadcasting. The title song directly parodies the television show, America's Most Wanted, alleging bias and glee the program displays in arresting Afro-American men.

A later song, "Get Off My Dick, and Tell Yo Bitch to Come Here," returns to the same theme at the end, with newscaster Tom Brokaw reporting on rioting, stating: "Outside the south central area, few cared about the violence because it didn't affect them." He also addressed gender relations on "It's a Man's World", a duet between Cube and female rapper Yo-Yo. Cube and Yo-Yo verbally spar and trade sexist barbs back and forth in an expose of sexism between men and women. Amidst critics' accusing Ice Cube of sexism, Peter Watrous of The New York Times wrote, in review of a live show at New York's Apollo Theater:

...no one came out ahead; any new sense of cultural violence or sexism promoted by the record had dissolved into a traditional battle of the sexes, no better or no worse.[10]

Singles[edit]

The title track was the first official single from the album. The song contains samples from "Humpin'" by the Bar-Kays, "There It Is" by James Brown, "Let the Music Take Your Mind" by Kool and the Gang and "Advice" by Sly and the Family Stone. The B-side for the song was "Once Upon a Time in the Projects". The next single released for the album was "Endangered Species (Tales from the Darkside)" featuring Chuck D. of Public Enemy. The title comes from an excerpt in the beginning of the song, in which a reporter talks about the alarming death rate of black males in America, and the song's lyrics focus on this as well.

Release and reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 5/5 stars[11]
The Austin Chronicle 5/5 stars[12]
Robert Christgau (B-)[13]
Entertainment Weekly B−[14]
Los Angeles Times favorable[15]
Rolling Stone 2.5/5 stars 1990[16]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars 1992[17]
Rolling Stone 5/5 stars 2004[18]
The Source 5/5 stars[19]
Uncut 4/5 stars[20]
The Washington Post favorable[21]

AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted initially charted without the support of a lead single or video, although the title track would later receive a pressing, and a rare video for "Who's the Mack?" eventually surfaced. Regardless of very limited promotion, and airplay, the album reached Gold status two weeks after its release, and was certified Platinum two months later. The Album sold 2,430,000 copies as of march 1st.

Upon release, AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted received mostly positive reviews from music critics, and over the years it has been regarded by many as a hip-hop classic.[22][23] David Jeffries from Allmusic gave the album 5 out of 5 stars and stated; "This street knowledge venom with ultra fast funk works splendidly throughout the album, with every track hitting home [...] AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted is a timeless, riveting exercise in anger, honesty, and the sociopolitical possibilities of hip-hop."[11] Davis Mills from The Washington Post praised the album for its lyrical dexterity by stating; "Ice Cube has now proven that he was N.W.A.'s crucial element. He's an unusually gifted rhymer, and his delivery is even more self-assured."[21] Greg Sandow from Entertainment Weekly complimented the album's vivid depictions of urban realities, and stated;

Ice Cube emerges as a rapper most original for his uncompromising tone. He throws ghetto life in our faces and dares us to draw our own conclusions.[14]

—Greg Sandow

Rolling Stone originally gave the album 2½ out of 5 stars in 1990, with Alan Light commenting; "The relentless profanity grows wearisome, the Bomb Squad beats lose steam, and Cube's attitudes toward women are simply despicable." He also declared the album as "a disappointment."[16] Rolling Stone however, raised the rating to 3½ stars in 1992 and to 5 stars in 2004, and praised the album for its production, and lyrics.[18]

Legacy[edit]

Ice Cube's social, and political commentary, delivered in an incisive manner, has influenced numerous rappers since Amerikkka's Most Wanted, particularly in the gangsta rap and political rap sub-genres. Focusing on the hardships of life in South Central, Los Angeles, as well as criticizing the American Justice System and race relations in the United States, Cube became an outspoken voice of U.S. social customs tipped against young Black Americans.

Although Ice Cube's popularity among mainstream listeners has lessened since the 2000s, and his sound may be considered distinctively old school to modern ears, many notable rappers themselves have been influenced by AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted. His style of rapping about real life sentiment and socio-political awareness influenced the music of West Coast rappers, including that of Tupac Shakur, Ras Kass, and Xzibit, as well as East Coast rappers Nas, The Notorious B.I.G., and more recently, Saigon and Southern rapper Young Jeezy. East Coast rapper Redman also covered "Once Upon a Time in the Projects" on his album Doc's Da Name 2000, with the song "Jersey Yo!."

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Producer(s) Length
1. "Better Off Dead" (Intro) Ice Cube, Sir Jinx 1:03
2. "The Nigga Ya Love to Hate"   The Bomb Squad, Ice Cube (co.), Sir Jinx (co.) 3:13
3. "AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted"   The Bomb Squad, Ice Cube (co.), Sir Jinx (co.) 4:08
4. "What They Hittin' Foe?"   The Bomb Squad, Ice Cube (co.), Sir Jinx (co.) 1:22
5. "You Can't Fade Me/JD's Gafflin'"   The Bomb Squad, Ice Cube (co.), Sir Jinx (co.) 5:12
6. "Once Upon a Time In the Projects"   Sir Jinx, The Bomb Squad (co.) 3:41
7. "Turn Off the Radio"   The Bomb Squad, Ice Cube (co.), Sir Jinx (co.) 2:37
8. "Endangered Species (Tales from the Darkside)" (featuring Chuck D) The Bomb Squad, Ice Cube (co.), Sir Jinx (co.) 3:21
9. "A Gangsta's Fairytale" (featuring Lil Russ) Ice Cube, Sir Jinx, The Bomb Squad (co.) 3:16
10. "I'm Only Out For One Thang" (featuring Flavor Flav) Ice Cube, Sir Jinx, The Bomb Squad (co.) 2:10
11. "Get Off My Dick & Tell Yo' Bitch to Come Here"   The Bomb Squad, Ice Cube (co.), Sir Jinx (co.) 0:56
12. "The Drive-By" (Interlude) Sir Jinx 1:01
13. "Rollin' Wit' the Lench Mob"   The Bomb Squad, Ice Cube (co.), Sir Jinx (co.) 3:43
14. "Who's the Mack?"   Sir Jinx, The Bomb Squad 4:35
15. "It's a Man's World" (featuring Yo-Yo) Sir Jinx, Ice Cube 5:26
16. "The Bomb"   Sir Jinx, The Bomb Squad (co.) 3:25
Total length:
49:36

Personnel[edit]

Charts[edit]

Accolades[edit]

  • The information regarding accolades is adapted from acclaimedMusic.net[2] except for lists that are sourced otherwise.
  • (*) signifies unordered lists
Publication Country Accolade Year Rank
About.com United States 100 Greatest Hip Hop Albums[22] 2008 33
Best Rap Albums of 1990[25] 2008 2
Robert Dimery 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die 2005 *
Ego Trip Hip Hop's 25 Greatest Albums by Year 1980-98 1999 1
The Guardian United Kingdom 1000 Albums to Hear Before You Die 2007 *
Mixmag The 100 Best Dance Albums of All Time 1996 24
New Musical Express Albums of the Year 1990 41
Chris Rock United States Top 25 Hip-Hop Albums[26] 2005 17
Rock De Lux Spain Albums of the Year 1990 46
Rolling Stone United States The Essential Recordings of the 90s 1999 *
The Source The 100 Best Rap Albums of All Time 1998 *
Spin Top 100 (+5) Albums of the Last 20 Years 2005 33
Albums of the Year 1990 1
Top 90 Albums of the 90s 1999 80
Tom Moon 1000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die 2008 *
Village Voice Albums of the Year 1990 6

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Ice Cube biography. enotes. Accessed December 5, 2007.
  2. ^ a b Columnist. AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted Accolades. acclaimedmusic.net. Retrieved on 2010-04-01.
  3. ^ AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted certification. RIAA. Accessed November 28, 2007.
  4. ^ "XXlmag.com". 
  5. ^ Article. Producer's Corner: Sir Jinx. HipHopDX.com. Retrieved on 2010-04-02.
  6. ^ a b Article. Sir Jinx Part2. dubcnn.com. Retrieved on 2010-04-02.
  7. ^ Ro 2007, p. 17
  8. ^ Article. Bum Rush The Show. cooleh.com. Retrieved on 2010-04-02.
  9. ^ Article. Rap After the Riot: Smoldering Rage And No Apologies. New York Times. Retrieved on 2010-04-02.
  10. ^ Watrous, Peter (1990-09-16), "Review/Pop; Ice Cube's Hip-Hop Warms up the Apollo - New York Times", The New York Times, retrieved 2010-04-23 
  11. ^ a b Jeffries, David. Review: AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted. Allmusic. Retrieved on 2010-04-01.
  12. ^ Coletti, Christopher. Review: AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted. The Austin Chronicle. Retrieved on 2010-04-01.
  13. ^ Christgau, Robert. Consumer Guide: AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted. Village Voice. Retrieved on 2010-04-01.
  14. ^ a b Sandow, Greg. Review: AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved on 2010-04-01.
  15. ^ Hilburn, Robert. Review: AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted. Los Angeles Times. Page 62. June 24, 1990.
  16. ^ a b Light, Alan. Review: AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted. Rolling Stone. Retrieved on 2010-04-01.
  17. ^ http://www.acclaimedmusic.net/Current/A793.htm
  18. ^ a b Hoard, Christian. Review: AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted. Rolling Stone. Retrieved on 2010-04-01.
  19. ^ Columnist. Review: AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted. The Source. Retrieved on 2010-04-01.
  20. ^ Columnist. Review: AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted. Uncut. Retrieved on 2010-04-01.
  21. ^ a b Mills, David. Review: AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted. The Washington Post. Retrieved on 2010-04-01.
  22. ^ a b Adaso, henry. About.com's 100 Greatest Hip Hop Albums. About.com. Retrieved on 2010-04-01.
  23. ^ Columnist. The Source Magazine's 100 Best Rap Albums. The Source. Retrieved on 2010-04-01.
  24. ^ allmusic ((( AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums ))). Allmusic. Accessed May 24, 2008.
  25. ^ Adaso, Henry. About.com's Best Rap Albums of 1990. About.com. Retrieved on 2010-04-01.
  26. ^ Top 25 Hip-Hop Albums Ever. Rock, Chris

References[edit]

  • Ro, Ronin (2007), Dr. Dre: The Biography, New York, New York, United States: Thunder's Mouth Press, ISBN 1-56025-921-3 
  • Nathan Brackett, Christian Hoard (2004), The New Rolling Stone Album Guide: Completely Revised and Updated 4th Edition, Simon and Schuster, ISBN 0-7432-0169-8 

External links[edit]