What’s Your Favorite Track Off AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted?

As an XXL editor I like to think of myself as a professional to the highest degree and I think most people who I’ve come across in this industry would agree. But fuck all that, I’m a hip-hop fan first and, while I mostly try to remain professional, sometimes I Stan the fuck out.

This was the case this past February when I started working on “Documentary of a Gangsta,” the making of Ice Cube’s debut album AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted for our June issue. That drops May 25th so look out for that!

It’s hard to believe, but this Sunday May 16, will mark the 20th anniversary of when Cube dropped his seminal album. I still have the original vinyl, which our art department photographed for the story that appears in the upcoming mag (plug, plug).

I got up with Cube in February and asked him everything that I ever dreamt of for the past 20 years: How’d you go from Dr. Dre to the Bomb Squad? What was it like working with Flavor Flav? Where you afraid that Chuck D would murder you on your own shit? Did Yo-Yo write her own lyrics? What were you smoking when you wrote “A Gangsta’s Fairytale”?

From there I went on to interview Chuck D, then Hank and Keith Shocklee, then Eric Sadler, Yo-Yo, Flavor Flav and of course Sir Jinx. We talked about every track, every recording session. Cube and company reminisced on being in the studio and watching Mike Tyson get knocked out by Buster Douglas. Time truly stopped then didn’t it?

After all of these interviews I came away with a gang of information, too much to print, too much to blog about. I’ll probably keep some stuff in the mental vault. Truthfully, a lot of the information I gathered would be much better suited for SCRATCH magazine (R.I.P.), so maybe I’ll save it hoping for a SCRATCH resurrection. (Side note: One of my proudest professional achievements is to have written in both the first and last issues of SCRATCH— I think I may be the only one with that distinction, but will have to double check).

Now, these making of stories are my favorite. In the past I worked on “Still Ill,” the making of Nas’s Illmatic (XXL, April 2009) and “Time to Build,” the making of Jay-Z’s Blueprint album (XXL, October 2009). But this Ice Cube one was special. Jay and Nas are in most folks’ Top 5, but Cube inexplicably doesn’t receive the same respect. While gangsta rap did exist before Cube, most would agree that the South Central rapper perfected the sub-genre. That’s why AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted is so important. I don’t know that hip-hop has produced an album that was more politically driven, socially relevant, lyrically tight, musically strong and visual—all at the same time. Or maybe I’m showing my age (30 years young, damnit!). Still no matter your age, or the era of hip-hop you grew up in. Whether your favorite rapper is Soulja Boy or Big Daddy Kane, you gotta give it up for Cube.

So to celebrate, we’ve dedicated quite a few pages in the June issue of XXL. Then this Sunday we have a few words from the man himself, Mr. Ice Cube. Today, I ask all of y’all to dig into the crates break out your copy of AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted and let’s talk about the album’s best songs and skits. Take that muthafuckas! —Rob Markman, The Deputy!

Recommended for You

Around the Web

Best of XXL

  • Free P

    FIRST BITCHES!!!!!!!!!

  • http://1hiphop.wordpress.com/ Ellomorning

    Gangsta’s Fairytale! I was just bumpin this album last night,dope shiz!

  • norcal

    get a life FREE P, the album is sick

  • b-dogg

    straight crack yo… this is back when you spent $12-$15 bones for a cassette and you weren’t disappointed… if artist would make quality albums these days, maybe i would buy one. Until then, i’ll just keep gettin my fix for FREE…

  • adrian smith bimringham england

    ice cube amerikkka most wanted classic classic rapnot just rap but any album out there 20 years 1990 was a good day the nigga ya love to hate my fave track intro to albumis sick shout dj semtex on 1xtra who played the album in full peace fuck you ice cube the nigga ya love ta hate soory for that cant wait for the new ice cube album 2010

  • http://www.bboycult.com $yk

    ‘Endangered Species’. They both ripped that.

  • Worley

    “Once Upon A Time in the Projects” for sure.

  • te noah

    Turn off that bullshit . . . more relevant now than ever.

  • General

    For me “Tha Nigga Ya Love To Hate” was always that track that really set that tape off and made me realize Cube was on some next level Gangsta shit…

  • hiphopzilla

    “The Nigga Ya Love To Hate” is unfuckwitable as well as dis whole album, and can u guys @ XXLMag do a 20th anniversary of other classic albums such as:

    - Gang Starr – Step In The Arena
    - Public Enemy – Fear Of A Black Planet
    - Brand Nubian – One For All
    - Kool G. Rap & D.J. Polo – Wanted: Dead Or Alive
    - Masta Ace – Take A Look Around
    - LL Cool J – Mama Said Knock You Out
    - EPMD – Business As Usual
    - Eric B. & Rakim – Let The Rhythm Hit ‘Em

    Hip Hop junkies like me would greatly appriciate it, peace.

  • http://Pierzy11@gmail.com Pierzy

    “Once Upon A Time In The Projects…”

    I don’t think people realize just how groundbreaking this album was. Cube left NWA and everyone thought it would be a disaster. He went to NYC to record with the Bomb Squad and everyone thought he would flop without Dre.

    And a masterpiece was the result…

  • http://Pierzy11@gmail.com Pierzy

    “Once Upon A Time In The Projects…”

    I don’t think people realize just how groundbreaking this album was. Cube left NWA and everyone thought it would be a disaster. He went to NYC to record with the Bomb Squad and everyone thought he would flop without Dre.

    A masterpiece was the result…

  • ri067953

    I would really be interested in some of the stuff that didn’t make it in the article. Why not share that instead of posting a lame ass poll?

    Beleive it or not, there are people who are interested in the techincal side of what goes on in a recording session. I say you post a couple of those tidbits on here until the issue is released.

    • Rob Markman

      damn why it gotta be lame?!? LOL
      Trust me we got you covered. Check back Sunday to get an exclusive Ice Cube feature online and then cop the June Issue to get the entire making of story!

  • Rakabash

    I bought this on CD after having on cassette for 10 years and I lost the CD. But “Nigga Ya Love To Hate” and “Once Upon A Time In The Projects” are so ill and the production has musicality and artistry. The way the Bomb Squad cut up the samples and essentially made it a concept album is even more reason for this album to be given a tribute.

  • Bigplay

    One of the best albums of all time in Rap. By the best storyteller & one of the best M.C’s to touch the mic. Cube is the shit I still bump his shit everyday.

  • Caino

    20yrs old!! damn, how time flies, thats some scary shit!!

    Just goes to show how important Cube is to HipHop, younglings need to reaise he aint just aan actor/rapper!


  • Face Phoenix

    I still love “Who’s the Mack” esp the video with Cube and DJ Pooh. Who would think that a couple of years later they would create the classic “Friday”. It was just a song unlike any other I heard at that age. It really prepared me for what I was beginning to see around the corner from me. I still can’t go to the gas station without double checking for that local crackhead looking for some “Spare Change” [Like Robin Harris said "What is Spare Change?"].

  • 619

    Once upon a time in the projects.
    If Pac is considered the top of the West all time, Cube has to be right there too. Greatest West Coast MC of all time.

  • http://www.myspace.com/conspiracysbu Conspiracy1999

    “Nigga You Love To Hate” was the song I made my life based around, AND my theme music. I was a young thug that just didn’t give a fuck-
    and in 1990, when I was 12, i was in an airport, and I saw that casette for sale. Thought to myself , “I need something to listen to for the trip. Ima try some new shit (cuz I had nuff cash)”. I put that casette in my walkman, and after the intro, and first side of the album, I couldn’t stop playing the album, just out of sheer SHOCK at what ICE CUBE was saying, and how RAW it was (to a 12 year old? extremely hardcore). I listen to that album whenever I want to dis any cats that be fucking with me. I pretend that I am ICE CUBE, and that -I- am THE NIGGA YOU LOVE TO HATE. don’t fuck around -

    and then I also liked the slang on “JD’s Gafflin’”……plus also “Get Off My Dick Nigga, And tell your bitch to come here”.yo.YO!

    back when people CRAFTED a CREATIVE work of art for the fans enjoyment…

    not 2007 auto-tune digital “freestyles” that are over beats that 6 other guys used. And there was intricate and ideas/intellectual album concepts that were well-thought out before the album was mastered and released..

    peace to the years of the hiphop culture in 1990-2000

    think back to before the internet…MCs/FANS COULDN’T DOWNLOAD AN INSTRUMENTAL FOR THEM TO RAP OVER. no MIXTAPES?!?! where would the sucka MCs BE without home studios and internet access? not in the music game, that’s for sure-

  • jtm

    once upon a time in the projects.

  • R-son

    one of the greatest albums i ever heard

    • sb

      i co-sign that…..

  • Fabe

    Sheeet!!, Gangstas Fairytale

  • Cred

    Always needed 2 skip 1 ahead cos JDs Gaffalin fucked up the track list

  • sb

    really i cant vote on just one…i mean its really one of the few albums that i can listen to from start to finish..i used to play the hell out of this tape…I remember being in the studio when he recorded turn of the radio..I had a good friend of mine who was cool with the shocklee brothers and we slid through one night when they were working…i remember he played us once upon a time in the projects and amerikka’s most….never forget that day


    Fo’ Real Fo’ Real ‘Endangered Species’ and the remix joint on KILL @ WILL.

  • TheRefriedMexican

    “AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted” was “The Godfather PT 1″. “Death Certificate” was “The Godfather PT 2″ unfortunately except for a few highlights the rest of his career has been “The Godfather PT 3″

  • http://www.jamal7mile.blogspot.com Jamal7Mile

    Once upon a time in the projects, YO! Who’s the Mack had a dope bassline. How many of you youngstas know what “Raindance” is? LOL!

  • El Tico Loco

    The whole joint was dope and is made to played in the sequence is made in.

  • Mutada Mullah Atari

    Yo why do people always name this album as his best? Its a bomb album but Lethal Injection is by far his best work, LI is certainly one of the best albums of ALL TIME

    • http://windowshop78.blogspot.com Ninjagaiden78

      You like better than Death Certificate? LI is dope though. Hey as long as we are debating a great MC’s work it’s all good!

      • Mutada Mullah Atari

        ^^^I was on crack when I wrote than man I totally meant Death Certificate, it is his best album front to back. Lethal was write before he went into his “funk phase”, when he was in the damn afro wigs. My bad lol!!!!!!!!!!

  • Grown Ass Man

    It’s Hard to pick one. The whole composition goes hand in hand, blended perfectly to create a sonic cinema. The radical production, combined with the instense pitch, and calculated flow of Ice cube, and his views of social injustice, gangsta mentality, and every day life in the hood makes this album #1 of my all time hip hop albums. If I had to pick one, I’ll pick ‘The Nigga You Love To Hate’

    “So what they do, Go and Ban the AK, My Shit wasn’t registered any fuckin Way, So you betta duck away run and Hide out, When I’m rollin real slow with the lights out. Cause I’m about, to fuck up the program, Shootin out the window of a drop top Broham”… – Ice Cube “The Nigga You Love To Hate”

    • http://windowshop78.blogspot.com Ninjagaiden78

      Cosign Grown Ass Man. This is true sonic cinema. As a cat in his 30′s who has been listening to hiphop for 22+ years (darn has it been that long), I can say that there are maybe a few albums that have the same impact as this one. If I had to pick one song, it would be “Turn Off The Radio.” Especially in this current climate of incredibly bad music and unoriginality, Turn resounds loudly. The N… You Love To Hate is great too. So is Amerikkka’s Most Wanted and Who’s The Mack and .. Oh F’it too many to mention!

  • http://facebook.com myddleman


  • That Dude

    “You got any last words?” (officer)

    “Yeah, yeah I got some last words…FUCK ALL YALL…” (Cube)

    “SWITCH!!!” (electric chair goes off)

    classic intro to a classic song!!!

  • Kenny D

    Gangsta’s Fairytale goes hard. That’s gotta be my favorite track. Once upon a time in da projects was good too. Almost all these tracks went hard.

  • http://www.bboycult.com $yk

    One thing (hopefully) we can agree on, these rapper dudes don’t make music like this anymore.

    Fans can say whatever, but when you listen to the albums from this period, with less technology and even lesser knowledge of the industry, there is no way you can say rap has progressed over the years.

    ‘Kill At Will’ EP>’So Far Gone’ EP

    ’100 Miles & Running’ EP>’So Far Gone’ EP

  • TYBO2020


  • KaiCzar Th@ Gr8!

    When diz almbum came out,I thought I was Cube.
    GrowNiN up N East St. Louis, THIS was the 1st FULL piece a work(since Straight Outta Compton) that truly echoed the life & mentallity of young blacK males liviN N the hood. handz down, 1 of the DOPEST albums of ALL-time!!!!

  • KaiCzar Th@ Gr8!

    When diz album came out,I thought I was Cube.
    GrowNiN up N East St. Louis, THIS was the 1st FULL piece a work(since Straight Outta Compton) that truly echoed the life & mentallity of young blacK males liviN N the hood. handz down, 1 of the DOPEST albums of ALL-time!!!!

  • Anonymous

    Great album because of the story behind it and some great songs, but to me The war album was his best.

  • kedordu

    it takes a mil
    amerikkas most wanted

    top 5 albums

  • BeerGangsta

    Ice Cube is hardcore!! All CDS he made is a classic. Never lost a battle. Dis so many Rappers and made them feel guility. Make them fuckers shit aprons!! Best Rapper is Ice Cube!!

  • insane genius

    Ice Cube one of the best rappers of all time never get any respect. He murdered Nas on the Grand Finale remake by Lil Jon. Cube was Pac before Pac in where he mixed politics and the streets. Classic line ” I’m platinum bitch and I didn’t hav to sell out”.

  • Blaknificent

    The Bomb iz still my Fav. that is how you close an album!!!

  • IceCube

    The nigga you love to hate

    and i hope next year death certificate making of i wanna know how he came to the greatest diss of all time

    paid in full
    the chronic
    straight outta compton