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Ice Cube Celebrates 20-Year Anniversary of Death Certificate

At the end of a song that tells the story of a gangster such as that, the star of the song or the bad guy walks away in the sunset. On this particular record, you went to jail in your draws.

Yeah, well I done heard stories about when people went outta town. They always tell you the good stuff. “I went out of town and ran that shit.” They don’t tell you how dudes in the town shot they ass up, tore them up or whatever. So I wanted to tell a story that would… … I’m trying to impact the gangster. I’m trying to impact his psyche. I wanted to show, “Ok, these niggas may take and take and take, but as soon as the other dudes huddle up and figure out how aggressive they have to be to get y’all outta there, they gonna do it. They’re gonna get y’all outta there.” I was showing that and showing the consequences of the dope game.

The signature from the album, of course was “Steady Mobbin.” How did you come up with that?

We called ourselves Da Lench Mob. So “Steady Mobbin” was a take off of Da Lench Mob thing. It ain’t complicated rapping, talking hood stuff. But the music was so fly. Bobcat and Pooh, it was banging. Then you add the Parliament stuff “have you ever seen such a sight in your life.” But that sample… the beat sounded totally different. It just came together. I remember laying down in the studio, just laying back, when my eyes woke, I was like, “What the fuck is that?” Bobcat was like, “I’ma loop this little sample.” I was like “loop that bitch up!” That just made the song. It’s what you hear.

I was a shorty listening to the album. I didn’t have a pops around or a older brother, so I definitely picked up some gems from you. I have to ask you about two songs in particular that I paid close attention to, “Look Who’s Burnin” and “Nappy Dugout.”

“Look Who’s Burnin’,” “Nappy Dugout,” Them fun records. I was trying to tell the real. Take the real what people are going through and give people a song where they can be entertained and rock to it. So, “Look Who’s Burnin’,” couple of homies bwoooooy [Laughs]. Them stories they come back with, I had to drop that on them. “Nappy Dugout,” is that old famous parent who thinks their daughter is the angel. [Laughs]

The skits on the album were so crazy. Especially when the chick goes “what’s the matter, ya burnin?” Damn!

That’s Sir Jinx. Sir Jinx is the master of all the skits. He did Robin Lench,” the stuff with Dr. Khalid Muhammad. Jinx is the skit master. Even all the skits on AmeriKKKa’s Most he did that. We was just doing shit as we went along. I’d come in the studio a little later and they’d be working on a skits. He’d have all these people in there. The reception lady from the front desk of the studio. The security dude from outside. Anybody. He’d find a muthafucka from the street if they had a voice. “C’mon here say this. I’ll give you 100 dollars.”

Everyone in the hip-hop community loved the album when it came out. It’s still cherished. But it was such a nationally polarizing album. You had the love from the hood, but mainstream protested you. It was like they hated you and were scared of you. What was it like having so much love from one world and at the same time going through so much controversy with another world?

You know, Jerry Heller had took the album to the Simon Wiesenthal center. He was like, “Yo, he’s dissing Jews.” [He referred to] “You let a Jew, fuck up my crew.” That line. They came down on me. The editor of Billboard [at the time] told retail they should not sell my record. It was real heated. I had to do a lot of interviews to defend the record. It was real heated. I was like, “That album is saying a whole lot. And y’all are caught on ‘No Vaseline’ and ‘Black Korea.’ “Black Korea” I did that after Tasha Harlins thing when she got shot for the orange juice. Everybody was pissed.

I remember this. I was on a call on CNN, my voice and the Rabbi from the Simon Wiesenthal Center, he was on. They were asking us these questions. For one thing, I was like, “Let me ask this guy here. Are you condoning what Jerry Heller did to me? Are you saying it’s cool that old Jewish managers should fucking steal and get their young black artists to sign bad paperwork and do bad deals? That muthafucka hung up.The mediator that was on CNN was like, “Hello. Hello? OK, I guess that ends the interview.” From there, nothing else was ever said about it. All this turmoil one day and then it was like somebody turned off a switch. I always thought they tried to undercut my career in other ways. Other than just that. It was other left handed shit. You’d have to be an artist in my shoes to detect it, but I thought “that shit was funky.” They can’t stop you when the people love you.

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