Ice Cube (born O'Shea Jackson on June 15, 1969) is an African American actor and rapper, originally a member of the controversial group N.W.A. (Niggaz With Attitude) until launching a successful solo career in music and cinema. In recent years, Ice Cube's acting career has overshadowed his career in music.
Ice Cube was raised in South Central Los Angeles, California by his parents, both of whom were employed at UCLA. He began writing raps while attending school at William Howard Taft High School in Woodland Hills, California, most notably "Boyz 'N Tha Hood", a song which later became famous when done by N.W.A. Cube and a friend, Sir Jinx, rapped as a partnership called C.I.A. at parties hosted by Dr. Dre. After a brief stint in a group called "HBO", Cube showed Eazy-E "Boyz 'N Da Hood" and the pair, plus Dr. Dre, and MC Ren formed N.W.A. Cube took one year off to earn a degree in architectural drafting in Phoenix in 1987 but returned in time to participate in N.W.A's debut album, Straight Outta Compton. The album attracted much notoriety for the group, from the FBI and concerned citizen and parent groups.
Ice Cube left N.W.A due to financial and personality conflicts in 1989. With Da Lench Mob and the Bomb Squad (Public Enemy's producers), Cube recorded his debut album in New York City. AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted was released in 1990 and was an instantaneous hit as rap's popularity increased in mainstream society. Some controversy has been stirred about racist lyrics in his material: Black Korea (a song against Korean shopowners) and songs such as Enemy and Cave Bitch (songs against "devils", a popular derogatory term at the time for white people). Partially to help deflect criticisms, Cube appointed a female rapper named Yo-Yo (who guested on AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted) to the head of his own record label and helped produce her debut album, Make Way for the Motherlode. That was followed by a critically acclaimed turn in Boyz N the Hood, a movie by John Singleton. Cube's 1991 follow-up, Death Certificate was even more controversial.
Cube toured on Lollapalooza in 1992 and widened his fan base. Also during that that year, he converted to the Nation of Islam. He released The Predator which debuted at #1 on both the pop and R&B charts, the first album in history to do so.
After The Predator, Cube's audience began to diminish. Lethal Injection (1993) was not very well-liked by critics and Dr. Dre and the West Coast G-Funk sound was dominating American hip-hop. Taking a break from his own albums, Cube assisted on debuts from Da Lench Mob (Guerillas in the Mist) and Kam (Neva Again). He later dueted with Dr. Dre on "Natural Born Killaz."
During this time hip-hop started making a transition from the West Coast Funk Hip-Hop to a more gritty East Coast hip-hop. With Mack 10 and WC, Cube formed the Westside Connection in 1996, releasing their debut album Bow Down later that year. This album was in due to Ice Cube's theory that the East Coast lacked respect for West Coast hip-hop. Songs like "Bow Down", and "Gangstas Make The World Go 'Round" make reference to this. Sales were brisk, but it did not establish a large audience. This album was later to be conceived as a classic album, especially in the West Caost,. Cube released several more solo albums; however, he is now known more for his movies than his original, groundbreaking music.
However in December 2004, after a long break from recording, he reached #2 in the UK singles chart with the club favourite, "You Can Do It" (featuring Mack 10 and Ms Toi), released as a single 5 years after it was first put onto movie soundtracks like Next Friday and Save The Last Dance.
He made a cameo in Destiny's Child video Soldier
He has released two singles off his upcoming album "Laugh Now Cry Later". They are "A Lotta That" featuring Snoop Dogg and "Chrome and Paint" featuring WC.
Ice Cube was influenced by and took his name from African American pimp-turned-author Iceberg Slim, who published his autobiography Pimp in 1969. At one point, Ice Cube was scheduled to play the lead role of a movie adaptation of Pimp, but the project appears to be halted.