— Back in 1993, the Tamra Davis-directed comedy, CB4, was released featuring an all-star cast and a number of celebrity cameos.

Written by Chris Rock, Nelson George, and Robert LoCash, CB4 tells the story of fictional Hip-Hop group, CB4, named after the prison block that the group was allegedly formed in (Cell Block 4). Set in the fictional California city of Locash, the film mostly parodies West Coast Gangsta Rap group, NWA, with CB4 borrowing both their image and style of rap with the fictional group even having a hit song titled, “Straight Outta Locash”. The film also features guest appearances from quite a few celebrities including Ice-T, Eazy-E, Halle Berry, Shaquille O’neal, Ice Cube, Flavor Flav, and more.

The plot is centered on friends, Albert, Euripides, and Otis (played by Chris Rock, Allen Payne, and Deezer D) and their desire to make it big as Hip-Hop superstars. However, with no real street cred or marketable image, the trio enlisted the help of local kingpin and club owner, Gusto, to no avail. When Gusto is later sent to prison with the belief that the 3 friends set him up, Albert uses this opportunity to steal his criminal background and identity to become “MC Gusto”. The newly formed group enjoyed great success, but ran into an array of problems, including Gusto’s escape from prison and his thirst for vengeance.

CB4 is one of the most loved Hip-Hop comedies to date although it isn’t necessarily the most well known. To many, it is viewed as something of a cult-classic amongst Hip-Hop fans as it mimics so many elements of Gangsta Rap so well. CB4 also delivered a quality end product due to its talented and hilarious cast including Charlie Murphy, Theresa Randle, Tommy Davidson, Phil Hartman, Khandi Alexander, Isaac Hayes, and more.

Want to check out the full movie? Stream it here.

— On this day back in 1993, Tupac Shakur released his sophomore studio album, Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z, thus further propelling his already skyrocketing Hip-Hop career.

Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z was recorded between June 1992 and January 1993 and was the follow up to 2Pac’s debut album, 2Pacalypse Now, released 2 years prior. Following the general theme of his debut, 2Pac focuses much of his lyrics on his political and social views including racism, poverty, rape and police brutality. However, unlike his debut album, which included a more underground/indie sound, Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z took an obvious turn in regards to its production. With more explosive beats that seemingly take a page from The Bomb Squad’s book, 2Pac was able to captivate a larger audience causing Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z to be commonly regarded as 2Pac’s breakout album.

Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z (N.I.G.G.A.Z standing for “Never Ign’ant Getting Goals Accomplished) included two of 2Pac’s biggest hits, “Keep Ya Head Up” and “I Get Around”. Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z is known to exhibit the signature duality of Pac’s persona and these 2 songs did just that. With one song serving as an ode to Black women in the trenches who must navigate and ultimately thrive within a male-driven society, “Keep Ya Head Up” has become something of a women’s empowerment anthem. However, 2Pac then flips the script with “I Get Around” as he shamelessly boasts about his sexual conquests. While the two topics don’t necessarily cancel each other out in totality, the two messages can appear to dance on blurred lines, which is part of what made 2Pac so appealing. Black men across America can relate to 2Pac’s “double life” as many of us attempt to better our own lives and communities while also being tempted (sometimes even forced) to indulge in the activities that hold us back—a conundrum that many of us hope to solve as well.

Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z includes features from a number of 2Pac’s west coast affiliates such as Ice Cube, Ice-T, and Shock G. However, 2Pac also recruited help from the Midwest and East Coast including Treach of Naughty by Nature, Wycked (later known as Mopreme), Apache, Live Squad, and David Hollister. Production was handled by a largely assorted cast which included Stretch, The Underground Railroad, Big D The Impossible, Bobcat, Jam Master Jay, Live Squad, Special Ed, Truman Jefferson, DJ Daryl, Lay Law, and The D-Flow Production Squad.

Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z has gone on to sell over 1.5 million records in the United States alone, and, like most of 2Pac’s projects, is regarded as one of Hip-Hop’s best albums in history.

Be sure to check out the full album as well as music videos above.

R.I.P Tupac Shakur

Written by Simo Haier

– 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