– On November 17th 1992, months after the Rodney King verdict, Ice Cube released his 3rd and most commercially successful album to date, The Predator.
By the year 1992, Ice Cube had made quite the name for himself. For many it was as a respected hip-hop MC, but others saw him as nothing more than an instigator of violence and racial tension. This is largely due to his brutally honest and aggressive lyrics on N.W.A’s 1988 debut album, Straight Outta Compton, and on his 2 subsequent solo projects, AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted and Death Certificate. However, Ice Cube never backed down from any of his bold statements, and in 1992 those very statements seemed to be more prophetic than polarizing.
In the fall of ’92, Ice Cube released his 3rd studio album, The Predator. The release of this project came just months after the infamous Los Angeles Riots of 1992 – a major inspiration for many of the lyrics and concepts on The Predator. On track 8, “We Had to Tear This Mothafucka Up”, Ice Cube specifically discusses Rodney King’s beating and the following riots, implying that based on long-term neglect and oppression from the government, the only way South Central citizens could be heard and respected was to burn and loot. Ice Cube touches on police brutality again on “Who Got the Camera?” as he describes an incident where he is unjustly pulled over and illegally searched by the LAPD. He then begins to ask for any bystanders to record the situation in hopes that it will prevent the police from causing any severe harm to him.
A number of notable West Coast Hip-Hop figures and some of Ice Cube’s earliest collaborators assisted in producing The Predator. Along with Ice Cube himself, DJ Muggs, DJ Pooh, and Sir Jinks handled the bulk of the production. However, it’s worth noting that the production team played a major role in, not only the albums beats and sounds, but in its storytelling as well. As with many of Ice Cube’s albums, there are a number of strategically placed snippets and interludes that include everything from interviews with Ice Cube, negative commentary on Ice Cube’s previous work, clips from the 1990 film Predator 2, words from Malcolm X, and much more. Without these various samples, the album’s overall message may not have been completely lost, but their presence definitely provides added insight and clarity to Ice Cube’s concepts.
Many believed The Predator to be Ice Cube’s most complete and mature album up until this point, but it isn’t necessarily his most critically acclaimed project. On the other hand, The Predator is his most commercially successful album to date. This was accomplished with the help of 3 hit singles, “Wicked”, “Check Yo Self”, and Ice Cube’s most successful single to date, “It Was a Good Day”. The Predator also debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 and sold 193,000 copies in its first week. The album was certified platinum on January 7, 1993 and double platinum in late 2001. As of 2008, over 2 million copies had been sold in the United States.
It’s incredibly unfortunate that so much of what Ice Cube is referencing in this 1992 album is so relevant today. Police brutality is still very prevalent with the main difference being advancements in technology allowing everyone to have a camera in his or her back pocket. At least today Ice Cube wouldn’t have to ask, “Who Got the Camera?”.
Stream the full album and check out the music videos above.
Written by DJ Robinson