At 54 years old, Ice Cube has this physical status:
In 1986 at the age of 16, Ice Cube began rapping in the trio C.I.A., but soon joined the newly formed rap group N.W.A. He was N.W.A's lead rapper and main ghostwriter on its official debut album, 1988's Straight Outta Compton. Via financial dispute, he left by the start of 1990. During 1990, his debut solo album, AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted, found him also leading a featured rap group, Da Lench Mob.
Meanwhile, he helped develop the rapper Yo Yo.
With friend Sir Jinx, Ice Cube formed the rap group C.I.A., and performed at parties hosted by Dr. Dre. Since 1984, Dre was a member of a popular DJ crew, the World Class Wreckin' Cru, which by 1985 was also performing and recording electro rap. Dre had Cube help write the Wreckin Cru's hit song "Cabbage Patch". Dre also joined Cube on a side project, a duo called Stereo Crew, which made a 12-inch record, "She's a Skag", released on Epic Records in 1986.
In 1987, C.I.A. released the Dr. Dre-produced single "My Posse". Meanwhile, the Wreckin' Cru's home base was the Eve After Dark nightclub, about a quarter of a mile outside of the city Compton in Los Angeles county. While Dre was on the turntable, Ice Cube would rap, often parodying other artists' songs. In one instance, Cube's rendition was "My Penis", parodying Run-DMC's "My Adidas". In 2015, the nightclub's co-owner and Wreckin' leader Alonzo Williams would recall feeling his reputation damaged by this and asking it not to be repeated.
At 16, Cube sold his first song to Eric Wright, soon dubbed Eazy-E, who was forming Ruthless Records and the musical team N.W.A, based in Compton, California. Himself from South Central Los Angeles, Cube would be N.W.A's only core member not born in Compton.
Upon the success of the song "Boyz-n-the-Hood"—written by Cube, produced by Dre, and rapped by Eazy-E, helping establish gangsta rap in California—Eazy focused on developing N.W.A, which soon gained MC Ren. Cube wrote some of Dre's and nearly all of Eazy's lyrics on N.W.A's official debut album, Straight Outta Compton, released in August 1988. Yet by late 1989, Cube questioned his compensation and N.W.A's management by Jerry Heller.
Cube also wrote most of Eazy-E's debut album Eazy-Duz-It. He received a total pay of $32,000, and the contract that Heller presented in 1989 did not confirm that he was officially an N.W.A member. After leaving the group and its label in December, Cube sued Heller, and the lawsuit was later settled out of court. In response, N.W.A members attacked Cube on the 1990 EP 100 Miles and Runnin', and on N.W.A's next and final album, Niggaz4Life, in 1991.
In early 1990, Ice Cube recorded his debut solo album, AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted, in New York with iconic rap group Public Enemy's production team, the Bomb Squad. Arriving in May 1990, it was an instant hit, further swelling rap's mainstream integration. Controversial nonetheless, it drew accusations of misogyny and racism. The album introduces Ice Cube's affirmation of black nationalism and ideology of black struggle.
Cube appointed Yo-Yo, a female rapper and guest on the album, to the head his record label, and helped produce her debut album, Make Way for the Motherlode. Also in 1990, Cube followed up with an EP—Kill At Will—critically acclaimed, and rap's first EP certified Platinum.
His second album Death Certificate was released in 1991. The album thought to as more focused, yet even more controversial, triggering accusations of anti-white, antisemitic, and misogynist content. The album was split into two themes: the Death Side, "a vision of where we are today", and the Life Side, "a vision of where we need to go". The track "No Vaseline" scathingly retorts insults directed at him by N.W.A's 1990 EP and 1991 album, which call him a traitor. Besides calling for hanging Eazy-E as a "house nigga", the track blames N.W.A's manager Jerry Heller for exploiting the group, mentions that he is a Jew, and calls for his murder. Ice Cube contended that he mentioned Heller's ethnicity merely incidentally, not to premise attack, but as news media mention nonwhite assailants' races. The track "Black Korea", also deemed racist, was also thought as foreseeing the 1992 Los Angeles riots. While controversial, Death Certificate broadened his audience; he toured with Lollapalooza in 1992.
Cube's third album, The Predator, arrived in November 1992. Referring to the 1992 Los Angeles riots, the song "Wicked" opens, "April 29 was power to the people, and we might just see a sequel." The Predator was the first album ever to debut at No. 1 on both the R&B/hip-hop and pop charts. Singles include "It Was a Good Day" and "Check Yo Self", songs having a "two-part" music video. Generally drawing critical praise, the album is his most successful commercially, over three million copies sold in the US. After this album, Cube's rap audience severely diminished, and never regained the prominence of his first three albums.
During this time, Cube began to have numerous features on other artists' songs. In 1992, Cube appeared on Del the Funky Homosapien's debut album I Wish My Brother George Was Here, on Da Lench Mob's debut Guerillas in tha Mist, which he also produced, and on the Kool G Rap and DJ Polo song "Two to the Head". In 1993, he worked on Kam's debut album, and collaborated with Ice-T on the track "Last Wordz" on 2Pac's album Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z..
Cube's fourth album, Lethal Injection, came out in late 1993. Here, Cube borrowed from the then-popular G-funk popularized by Dr. Dre. Although not received well by critics, the album brought successful singles, including "Really Doe", "Bop Gun (One Nation)", "You Know How We Do It", and "What Can I Do?" After this album, Ice Cube effectively lost his rap audience.
Following Lethal Injection, Cube focused on films and producing albums of other rappers, including Da Lench Mob, Mack 10, Mr. Short Khop, and Kausion. In 1994, Cube teamed with onetime N.W.A groupmate Dr. Dre, who was then leading rap's G-funk subgenre, for the first time since Cube had left the group, and which had disbanded upon Dre's 1991 departure. The result was the Cube and Dre song "Natural Born Killaz", on the Murder Was The Case soundtrack, released by Dre's then-new label, Death Row Records.
In 1995, Cube joined Mack 10 and WC in forming a side trio, the Westside Connection. Feeling neglected by East Coast media, a longstanding issue in rap's bicoastal rivalry, the group aimed to reinforce West pride and resonate with the undervalued. The Westside Connection's first album, Bow Down (1996), featured tracks like "Bow Down" and "Gangstas Make the World Go 'Round" that reflected the group's objectives. The album was certified Platinum by year's end. Interpreting rapper Common's song "I Used to Love H.E.R." as a diss of West Coast rap, Cube and the Westside Connection briefly feuded with him, but they resolved amicably in 1997.
It was also at this time that Cube began collaborating outside the rap genre. In 1997, he worked with David Bowie and Nine Inch Nails singer Trent Reznor on a remix of Bowie's "I'm Afraid of Americans". In 1998, Cube was featured on the band Korn's song "Children of the Korn", and joined them on their Family Values Tour 1998.
In November 1998, Cube released his long-awaited fifth solo album War & Peace Vol. 1 (The War Disc). The delayed sixth album, Volume 2, arrived in 2000. These albums feature the Westside Connection and a reunion with his old N.W.A members Dr. Dre and MC Ren. Cube also received a return favor from Korn, as they appeared on his song "Fuck Dying" from Vol. 1. Many fans maintained that these two albums, especially the second, were lesser in quality to his earlier work. In 2000, Cube also joined Dr. Dre, Eminem and Snoop Dogg for the Up in Smoke Tour.
In 2002, Cube appeared on British DJ Paul Oakenfold's solo debut album, Bunkka, on the track "Get Em Up".
Released in 2003, Westside Connection's second album, Terrorist Threats, fared well critically, but saw lesser sales. "Gangsta Nation" (featuring Nate Dogg), the only single released, was a radio hit. After a rift between Cube and Mack 10 about Cube's film work minimizing the group's touring, the Westside Connection disbanded in 2005.
In 2004, Cube featured on the song "Real Nigga Roll Call" by Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz, the then leaders of rap's crunk subgenre.
In 2006, Cube released his seventh solo album, Laugh Now, Cry Later, selling 144,000 units in the first week. Lil Jon and Scott Storch produced the lead single, "Why We Thugs". In October, Ice Cube was honored at VH1's Annual Hip Hop Honors, and performed it and also the track "Go to Church". Cube soon toured globally in the Straight Outta Compton Tour—accompanied by rapper WC from the Westside Connection—playing in America, Europe, Australia, and Japan.
Amid Cube's many features and brief collaborations, September 2007 brought In the Movies, a compilation album of Ice Cube songs on soundtracks.
Cube's eighth studio album, Raw Footage, arrived on August 19, 2008, yielding the singles "Gangsta Rap Made Me Do It" and "Do Ya Thang". Also in 2008, Cube helped on Tech N9ne's song "Blackboy", and was featured on The Game's song "State of Emergency".
As a fan of the NFL football team the Raiders, Cube released in October 2009 a tribute song, "Raider Nation". In 2009, Ice Cube performed at the Gathering of the Juggalos, and returned to perform at the 2011 festival.
On September 28, 2010, his ninth solo album, I Am the West, arrived with, Cube says, a direction different from any one of his other albums. Its producers include West Coast veterans like DJ Quik, Dr. Dre, E-A-Ski, and, after nearly 20 years, again Cube's onetime C.I.A groupmate Sir Jinx. Offering the single "I Rep That West", the album debuted at #22 on the Billboard 200 and sold 22,000 copies in its first week. Also in 2010, Cube signed up-and-coming recording artist named 7Tre The Ghost, deemed likely to be either skipped or given the cookie-cutter treatment by most record companies.
In 2011, Cube featured on Daz Dillinger's song "Iz You Ready to Die" and on DJ Quik's song "Boogie Till You Conk Out".
In 2012, Ice Cube recorded a verse for a remix of the Insane Clown Posse song "Chris Benoit", from ICP's The Mighty Death Pop! album, appearing on the album Mike E. Clark's Extra Pop Emporium.
In September 2012, during Pepsi's NFL Anthems campaign, Cube released his second Raiders anthem "Come and Get It".
In November 2012, Cube released more details on his forthcoming, tenth studio album, Everythang's Corrupt. Releasing its title track near the 2012 elections, he added, "You know, this record is for the political heads." But the album's release was delayed. On February 10, 2014, iTunes brought another single from it, "Sic Them Youngins on 'Em", and a music video followed the next day. Despite a couple of more song releases, the album's release was delayed even beyond Cube's work on the 2015 film Straight Outta Compton. After a statement setting release to 2017, the album finally arrived on December 7, 2018.
In 2014, Cube appeared on MC Ren's remix "Rebel Music", their first collaboration since the N.W.A reunion in 2000.
In 2020, Cube joined rappers Snoop Dogg, E-40, Too Short and formed the supergroup Mt. Westmore. The group's debut album was released on June 7th, 2022.
Film and television career
Since 1991, Ice Cube has acted in nearly 40 films, several of which are highly regarded. Some of them, such as the 1992 thriller Trespass and the 1999 war comedy Three Kings, highlight action. Yet most are comedies, including a few adult-oriented ones, like the Friday franchise, whereas most of these are family-friendly, like the Barbershop franchise.
John Singleton's seminal film Boyz n the Hood, released in July 1991, debuted the actor Ice Cube playing Doughboy, a persona that Cube played convincingly. Later, Cube starred with Ice-T and Bill Paxton in Walter Hill's 1992 thriller film Trespass, and in Charles Burnett's 1995 film The Glass Shield. Meanwhile, Cube declined to costar with Janet Jackson in Singleton's 1993 romance Poetic Justice, a role that Tupac Shakur then played.
Cube starred as the university student Fudge in Singleton's 1995 film Higher Learning. Singleton, encouraging Cube, had reportedly told him, "If you can write a record, you can write a movie." Cube cowrote the screenplay for the 1995 comedy Friday, based on adult themes, and starred in it with comedian Chris Tucker. Made with $3.5 million, Friday drew $28 million worldwide. Two sequels, Next Friday and Friday After Next, were respectively released in 2000 and 2002.
In 1997, playing a South African exiled to America who returns 15 years later, Cube starred in the action thriller Dangerous Ground, and had a supporting role in Anaconda. In 1998, writing again, the director Ice Cube debuted in The Players Club. In 1999, he starred alongside George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg as a staff sergeant in Three Kings, set in the immediate aftermath of the Gulf War, whereby the United States attacked Iraq in 1990, an "intelligent" war comedy critically acclaimed. In 2002, Cube starred in Kevin Bray's All About the Benjamins, and in Tim Story's comedy film Barbershop.
In 2004, Cube played in Barbershop 2 and Torque. The next year, he replaced Vin Diesel in the second installment of the XXX film series, XXX: State of the Union, as the main protagonist, which he reprises the character in the third installment and reunited with Diesel 12 years later, XXX: Return of Xander Cage. He also appeared in the family comedy Are We There Yet?, which premised his role in its 2007 sequel Are We Done Yet?. In 2012, Cube appeared in 21 Jump Street. He also appeared in its sequel, 22 Jump Street, in 2014. That year, and then to return in 2016, he played alongside comedian Kevin Hart in two more Tim Story films, Ride Along and Ride Along 2. Also in 2016, Cube returned for the third entry in the Barbershop series. And in 2017, Cube starred with Charlie Day in the comedy Fist Fight.
In late 2005, Ice Cube and R. J. Cutler co-created the six-part documentary series Black. White., carried by cable network FX.
Ice Cube and basketball star LeBron James paired up to pitch a one-hour special to ABC based on James's life.
On May 11, 2010, ESPN aired Cube's directed documentary Straight Outta L.A., examining the interplay of Los Angeles sociopolitics, hip hop, and the Raiders during the 1980s into the 1990s.
Ice Cube's Are We There Yet? series premiered on TBS on June 2, 2010. It revolves around a family adjusting to the matriarch's new husband, played by Terry Crews. On August 16, the show was renewed for 90 more episodes, amounting to six seasons. Cube also credits Tyler Perry for his entrée to TBS. In front of the television cameras, rather, Cube appeared with Elmo as a 2014 guest on the PBS children's show Sesame Street.