On this day in Hip Hop history, 33 years ago, Ice Cube released his debut solo album Amerikkka’s Most Wanted. Following the tragic breakup of N.W.A., this album’s unexpected commercial and critical success set the tone for Ice Cube’s solo career and was also a launching pad toward success.
Being able to peak at #19 on the Billboard 200 and be certified platinum in the year if it’s released, all while staying true to the hardcore gangsta sound that is prevalent in all of his other work shows since the beginning, Ice Cube has been a force to be reckoned with. His lyrical style and choice of subject matter force the commercial music world to be comfortable with a narrative uncommon to most who consider themselves fans of the work. With this album, Ice Cube can paint a vivid and accurate picture of his particular experiences as an artist in making it out of Compton yet still thriving as a product of the environment.
Unlike his previous NWA cuts, Ice Cube can get a little more theatrical in delivering his message while remaining just as straightforward. From the project’s title to the outro, it is prominent that Ice Cube had no intention of sugar-coating what he had to say. The violently righteous theme of this album shook the rap world showing a more militant side to the consciousness movement in the early 1990s. Cube even worked with Public Enemy’s production team, The Bomb Squad, to harness the high-energy sound paired perfectly with his flow.
Critically, this album is held on a pedestal with some of the best-selling and most respected projects in Hip Hop. It has been ranked on many “Best of All Time” and “Best of the 1990s” lists by US, Canada, and Europe publications. The album has been awarded 5 out of 5 ratings from The Source, Rolling Stone, Allmusic, and The Austin Chronicle.
Following this album, Ice Cube grew into the mega-star he is today. He released eight solo studio albums and has no plans on stopping anytime soon. He also took his talent to the screen as an actor, writer, and director.