True to the Game

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"True to the Game"
Single by Ice Cube
from the album Death Certificate
Released September 14, 1992
Format Cassette single
Recorded 1991
Genre Gangsta rap, West Coast Hip-Hop, Political hip hop
Length 4:16
Label Priority
Writer(s) Jackson, O.
Producer(s) Ice Cube, Sir Jinx
Ice Cube singles chronology
"Steady Mobbin'"
"True to the Game"

"True to the Game" is the final single from Ice Cube's Death Certificate album.

Video content[edit]

In the video, Ice Cube kidnaps various rappers (some resembling his former bandmates) who are portrayed as "record sellers" and not "true to the game". The video's outdoor scenes are set on Crenshaw Boulevard, which in the aftermath of the 1992 Los Angeles riots featured many burned-out buildings.[1] Another scene in a photo studio shows a rapper (apparently intended to be MC Hammer) clad in hardcore-style clothing who later changes into a red sequined outfit, symbolizing and parodizing his transition into mainstream pop music.[2]

Meaning of lyrics[edit]

"True to the Game" laments the trend of hip hop artists and other celebrities crossing over into mainstream music.[2] More broadly, the song's lyrics criticize African American assimilation into the middle class.[3] Ironically, Touré would later attack Ice Cube for his own transition into a "multimedia darling", sardonically referring to him as "Mr. Stay True to the Game" and comparing him to Will Smith and Queen Latifah.[4]

The song is a condemnation of Uncle Toms who sell out themselves to white communities and audiences: "Stop selling out your race, and wipe that stupid-ass smile off your face."

In particular, he calls out rappers who switch from hardcore in an attempt to cater to overwhelmingly white audiences at the expense of integrity, those who fail to be in touch with their roots, and especially blacks who align themselves in a white clique at the expense of snobbery towards their own:

You put on your suit and tie and your big clothes, You don't associate with the NEGROES
You wanna be just like Jack, But Jack is calling you a nigger behind your back.
So back off genius, I don't need you to correct my broken English.


  1. ^ Forman, M.; Neal, M.A. (2004). That's the Joint!: The Hip-Hop Studies Reader. Taylor & Francis. p. 382. ISBN 9780203642191. Retrieved 2014-11-30. 
  2. ^ a b Hess, M. (2007). Icons of Hip Hop: An Encyclopedia of the Movement, Music, and Culture 2. Greenwood Press. p. 313. ISBN 9780313339042. Retrieved 2014-11-30. 
  3. ^ Forman, M.; Neal, M.A. (2004). That's the Joint!: The Hip-Hop Studies Reader. Taylor & Francis. p. 386. ISBN 9780203642191. Retrieved 2014-11-30. 
  4. ^ Woldu, G.H. (2008). The Words and Music of Ice Cube. ABC-CLIO. p. 50. ISBN 9780313080784. Retrieved 2014-11-30. 

External links[edit]