Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Jake Frost
Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: Stanton Daily. Posted by Jake Frost
June 15, 1969
Currently Known For:
Rapper, writer and actor
Member of C.I.A. and N.W.A., Friday film series, Straight Outta Compton
“I love music. It’s freedom, a way to deal with pent-up frustration.” Born as O’Shea Jackson on June 15, 1969, the man that would later become known as Ice Cube has been successful in just about every venture that he’s engaged in. Ice Cube was born and raised in South Central Los Angeles to a hospital clerk mother and groundskeeper father, though had to deal with tragedy when he was 12 years old when his sister was murdered.
“I didn’t even know we were ‘in the hood’ for a long time until I realized that things in our neighborhood, gangs are starting to pick up…in the 1980s, it turned our neighborhood upside down in a lot of ways.” Ice Cube said that he wasn’t dealing with poverty as a child, with a household that had two parents. “We used to run around, bikes, skateboards, basketball, football; we did everything.”
“I was a pretty good student, wasn’t the best, wasn’t the worst…I wasn’t a guy that hated school and didn’t want to go,” Ice Cube said. “He would graduate from high school before getting into music and launching into superstardom. Not many people in his area had as stable of an upbringing that Ice Cube did, even if the neighborhood was pretty rough at times.
While he was in high school, Ice Cube started to dabble in rapping when he came up with his rap name. He said that his brother had “threatened to slam me into a freezer and pull me out when I was an ice cube. I just started using that name, and it just caught on.” It was when he he was 16 that he had met rapper Eazy-E, but wasn’t sure if he was going to find sustained success in rapping, prompting him to attend college.
Things would start to pick up, however, as Ice Cube formed the group C.I.A. where he met Dr. Dre, and in 1986 would help to form the group N.W.A. with Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, DJ Yella and MC Ren. The group would find massive success with their album “Straight Outta Compton” that not only became one of the most significant rap albums of all-time, but also spawned a biopic about the life and times of N.W.A..
It wouldn’t take long for Ice Cube to depart N.W.A., however, as he was unhappy with how much he was being paid for his contribution, receiving just north of $30,000. Ice Cube would leave the group in the late 1980s, deciding to instead go solo. He would release his first solo album “AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted” that took Ice Cube to the East coast. He would continue to release albums, including a reunion with Dr. Dre in 1994.
Throughout the rest of the 1990s, though, Ice Cube would be more known for branching out into acting than he would with his music. Ice Cube had starred in the 1991 film “Boyz n the Hood”, and followed that up with the comedy hit “Friday” (which also had two sequels) and higher budget films such as “Anaconda” and “Three Kings”.
Even though he’s considered to be more of a family friendly actor these days, Ice Cube is still remembered quite well for his early work that talked a lot about the situation that was going on in Los Angeles. “Crack cocaine was starting to come into the neighborhood and caused havoc, and the LAPD had Daryl Gates as the Chief of Police,” he said. “He had made a war on gangs, which sounds good, but if the police think everybody they see is a gang member, then it’s a way on everybody they see. So that’s what was converging then. Our savior at the time to me was hip hop. It was the music that was new, that was fresh, it was young people being able to express themselves.”
Ice Cube has also said that branching out into comedy films was a natural fit for him, even as a rapper that talked about serious problems in his early albums. “Even when you listen to the music, it is rough, but it still has a comedic element to it,” he said. “It might be dark and twisted, but it still has that flavor. I think that is just part of how I grew up; comedy was big. If you knew how to make people laugh, you were loved in the neighborhood.”
Still slightly involved in music, most of Ice Cube’s attention has been toward his acting career over the past decade, as well as raising his family with wife of more than 25 years Kimberly Woodruff. The couple has four children together, including O’Shea Jackson, Jr. that starred as his father in the film “Straight Outta Compton”.
As for his favorite album that he’s released, Ice Cube says that his solo debut is still his favorite. “‘AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted’ was the most pressure I felt doing a record. Yet, it was the most enthusiasm that I put into an album. I felt like I was creatively free of any shackles; it was my show…I can remember woking on that album more vividly than any other album that I have worked on.” As for his favorite song, “It Was a Good Day” still reigns supreme with fans, which he has said “is such a dope song.”