Ice Cube is one of the most iconic names in entertainment. From his start with the legendary and controversial group NWA to his days in the Westside Connection, and of course his illustrious solo career, Cube has managed to weave gangster rap, conscious rap, and party rap (periodically) together throughout his career. His aggression is top notch, and helps to lift his music to another level, earning him the title of an official legend in this game.
His music career led to a solid career in film as well, but we all know where it started and his first love. Music. He’s been said to have 3 classics under his belt and while I agree, where do these albums rank? Better yet, where do all these solo albums of his rank? Well, that’s why we’re here today. From his worst to his best, we’re ranking Ice Cube’s albums. What will be no. 1? What will be his worst? Think you know? Read on and find out. Let’s get into it.
10. War & Peace Vol. 1: The War Disc (1998)
That’s right. We have to start the list with the absolute worst album in Cube’s discography and it’s such a forgettable project. I mean, this album has almost nothing redeeming about it, and while I tried my hardest to find something good about it, I severely struggled with that task. “Pushin Weight” was okay, but the mash-up of rock/metal and Hip Hop here just didn’t work at all. I get what Cube was trying to do. Testing the limits of the genre and such, but man…. this was unnecessary.
There were too many self-produced tracks and a lack of solid production overall just weighed down this album. However, the lyrics had their moments as Cube dropped a few profound verses, but it just wasn’t enough to elevate the album.
9. Laugh Now, Cry Later (2006)
A lot of people see this as the comeback album and of course this album brought Cube back to music relevance. However, quality wise, I must admit… this album lacks a lot. Production isn’t cohesive, but Cube manages to put together a solid effort from a lyrical standpoint. He created some dope songs like “Growin Up”, “The N**** Trap”, and a few others, but there’s also a few songs that completely fall short of expectations and hopes. My biggest issue with this album is the inconsistent production, as I was never the biggest fan of Cube over generic Lil Jon or Scott Storch beats, but here we are.
What makes this album stick out is the fact that it was his first independent album, allowing Cube to have creative control and see bigger profits off the success of the album. As the album struck gold domestically and shipped over 1 million copies worldwide, Laugh Now, Cry Later will have a special place in Cube’s discography for this reason, but in the long run? It’ll be seen as a disappointing effort that sold well.
8. I Am The West (2010)
I never expected to like this album, but I did. It’s enjoyable though quite flawed, but Cube seems to be set on passing the torch in Hip Hop to his offspring and the other West Coast rhymers that are up and coming, and this showcases that to an extent. He features his sons on multiple songs and another young rapper named Young Maylay, while keeping it west with his partner WC and an appearance from underrated West representative Jayo Felony.
Production was solid on this album, and songs like “Soul On Ice”, “I Rep That West”, “Drink The Kool-Aid”, and “Too West Coast” keep the theme of the album in play, making this a solid listen overall.
7. Kill At Will (1990)
The short EP doesn’t have much on it, but I really enjoyed it. The main reason why this is on the list in general is because there’s no way in hell I can deny the impact and power of “Jackin’ For Beats”, which is of course a classic song and featured here.
The rest of the project is mostly remixes and a few newer songs, but it was just released to capitalize on the impending NWA beef and the success from his solo debut. Smart business move to say the least, and with other dope tracks like “The Product” and the infamous “Dead Homiez”, this short but sweet listen doesn’t disappoint.
6. War & Peace Vol. 2: The Peace Disc (2000)
I loved this album for some reason. I remember buying this album when it first came out just so I could have the NWA Reunion track “Hello” on a CD. I was a huge West Coast Hip Hop fan growing up and the sound of Dre’s production and voice booming with “I started this gangsta sh**… and this the muthaf***in thanks I get… Hello!” instantly captivated me as a fan. I was still on a high (pun intended) off of Dre’s 2001 album and this continued that feeling.
In addition to that, this album has some solid music in “You Can Do It”, a good party track, along with the dope “Until We Rich” with Krayzie Bone, the Chris Rock featured “You Ain’t Gotta Lie”, and “Record Company Pimpin”.
This was much better than Vol. 1, my only issue with the album is that it didn’t need so many tracks. Cut it down to 13 or 14, and this would be competing with his absolute best.
5. Raw Footage (2008)
I slept on this album when it first dropped. Sadly. I wish I could say I was into it the first week it dropped, but it took me about a year after to finally go back and listen to this and I was glad that I did. While it has a few songs that I wasn’t entirely interested in, he keeps enough social commentary and aggression in this entire album to make it a very good listen.
Standout tracks include the defiant “Gangsta Rap Made Me Do It”, the Musiq Soulchild featured “Why Me”, the WC and Game assisted “Get Used To It”, “Tomorrow”, and “It Takes A Nation”.
Overall, the album is a really good listen, and the best album from Cube in 15 years (1993-2008 time period). It remains his best album released in the 2000s.
4. Lethal Injection (1993)
A lot of people have mixed feelings on this project. I was a fan of it for the most part, but it was slightly different than the usual social commentary that Cube gave us on previous albums, but that’s the beauty of an artist: the freedom to do WHAT YOU want. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
This album was successful, as it sold pretty well, and I enjoy a majority of this album. It’s really got some classic cuts on it, like “Ghetto Bird”, “You Know We Do It”, “Cave Bitch”, “Down For Whatever”, and “Enemy”. People think Cube was pandering to the growing West Coast gangster rap trend, but how could he be pandering when he helped with inventing the genre in first place? Cube always made gangster rap and with this album he gave us a change in sound slightly, but more of the harsh realities versus the aggressive solutions. I’m not mad at that at all and I appreciated hearing that.
3. The Predator (1992)
In a way, this is my personal favorite album from Cube. It has two of my favorite Cube tracks ever and it feels like his most cohesive effort from a production standpoint and lyrically, Cube almost sounds as focused as he was on Death Certificate, but it is tough for me to put this one above his first two.
All personal bias aside, this album does feature “Check Yo Self” and his classic single “It Was A Good Day”, along with aggressive social commentary as the riots were happening and the police brutality had got out of control. This album was inspired by the film that shares the same name, and clips can be heard through the album, but these clips don’t add much to it, which is why it’s not ranked higher. However, Cube keeps the lyrics and production top notch all album, and if you’ve slept on this album, go back and listen to it. It gets better with each play.
2. Amerikka's Most Wanted (1990)
His debut. Many have said this is his best. It’s debatable, but personally it’s his 2nd best to me. Choosing between his first two solo LPs is tough, and this album is certainly one of the iconic albums of the early 90s in Hip Hop. After leaving NWA, Cube had a chip on his shoulder, and felt the need to go as hard as possible on his solo debut, and he enlisted the Bomb Squad to produce it, giving this album an East Coast feel while still encompassing the West Coast aggression and reality within it.
Standout songs on this album include “The N**** Ya Love To Hate”, “Once Upon A Time In The Projects”, “Who’s The Mack”, “The Bomb”, the title track and more. This whole album is amazing and a true Hip Hop classic. This would be no. 1 in anyone else’s discography, but that’s a testament to the dope zone Cube was in the early stages of his solo career.
1. Death Certificate (1991)
This is one of my top 15 Hip Hop albums of all time. The iconic cover, the hype surrounding it, the change in Cube and his attitude and even appearance (ditching the jheri curl), along with the controversies that he carried with him, this album was insane.
At the time, Cube was rumored to be associated with the Nation of Islam, which would make sense considering the strong content here. The album was split into two sides: The Life Side and The Death Side. The concept was weaved perfectly and the album is honestly flawless. I can’t name one song I skip on this album when I listen to it, because Cube executed everything perfectly here. From “Steady Mobbin” to “Bird In The Hand” to “I Wanna Kill Uncle Sam” to “Givin Up The Nappy Dugout” to “The Wrong N**** To F*** With”, all the way down to the infamous and murderous “No Vaseline”, Cube delivered one of the greatest hip hop albums of the entire 90s and his best album period.
Death Certificate celebrated its 25th Anniversary and it’s still as classic today as it was then.