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It Was a Good Song
on October 23, 2004
"The Predator" came out in 1992, when gangsta rap was at its peak and shortly after Ice Cube made his acting debut in the spectacular "Boyz N the Hood." Not surprisingly, the CD became Ice Cube's biggest seller, with over 2 million copies moved. During this time, Ice Cube was a vocal advocate for African-Americans and some of his earlier songs were seen as tirades against the white establishment. Although this CD is not political on the scale of Public Enemy or a few other rap artists of the time, it's right up there.
"The Predator" starts with a bang - a brief skit of prisoners being searched before entering prison. The song really sets the tone for the CD, a screed by an angry young man who has been mistreated by society and has to struggle every day with the violence in his community. The CD is also filled with timely references, including the LA riots, the Simi Valley trial of the officers who beat Rodney King, and so on.
The songs are also uniformly excellent, especially "It Was a Good Day" - his biggest hit and arguably best song ever. The song samples the Isley Brother's "Footsteps in the Dark," and has some truly indelible lines. The poignancy of the song is incredibly strong, telling of a young man who considers a day in which he wasn't carjacked, didn't have to use his AK, or didn't knew someone who was killed to be a "good" one. The song is highly evocative of early 90s rap - a true classic. Another highlight is "Check Yo Self" featuring Das EFX, which was a #1 R&B hit and went platinum.
Although much of the music is serious, Ice Cube's clever humor often shows through, such as his reference to Kris Kross's "Jump" on "Gangsta's Fairytale 2" - he also calls Cinderella a "snitch"! Overall, "The Predator" is one of the strongest rap CDs of its era. Ice Cube has obviously gone on to focus on acting, but he leaves behind a strong music legacy, of which "The Predator" is clearly a highlight. Highly recommended.