Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Ice Cube - Death Certificate LP - Lenticular Cover


Priority (2015, Reissue)

Every Wednesday, in honor of Ed Lover Dance Day from Yo MTV Raps, I take a break from rock and roll to write a little bit about hip hop. In the late 80s and early 90s hip hop ruled my musical life. During this often called 'Golden Era' I discovered so much incredible music. As I am slowly replacing the CDs I've had for twenty-five plus years with vinyl copies, I'm going to talk about some albums that had a really important impact on me during some very formative years.

For me, Death Certificate is the final piece of the Ice Cube trifecta.  Combine this with Amerikkka's Most Wanted and Kill at Will and you have three pretty stellar releases.  While I did buy The Predator when it came out and definitely enjoyed aspects of it, I'd have to say that Death Certificate is really the last of the Ice Cube releases that I thought was truly great.

A large part of why I this record ranks so highly for me is the one-two punch of "My Summer Vacation" and "Steady Mobbin'" on side one.  "My Summer Vacation" spins the tale of LA based drug dealers moving out to St. Louis and setting up shop.  The story is expertly set up with the twists and turns over one of my favorite laid back beats with tight drums and a slinky bass riff.  That gives way to my favorite Ice Cube track, "Steady Mobbin.'"

"Steady Mobbin'" is more upbeat built on P-Funk samples and a looped beeping sound effect. The video for this was frequently spun on Yo MTV Raps and was how this song became permanently lodged in my head.  These are just two highlights, though there are plenty of others.  Not everything is flawless and lyrically there are definitely elements that were questionable at best in 1991 and have aged even worse.  Still, there's something about these early Cube releases that have a fierce energy that elevates them to a higher level than many of the paint by numbers gangsta era releases of the mid 90s.

Ice Cube - Death Certificate (YouTube full album playlist - This is a 25th anniversary version with a few unnecessary extra songs stuck onto the beginning of the album)

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