O’Shea Jackson Sr. professionally known as Ice Cube is an American rapper, actor and filmmaker. His lyrics on N.W.A’s 1988 album Straight Outta Crompton contributed to gangsta rap’s widespread popularity.
On June 15, 1969 Los Angeles, California, U.S.
William Howard Taft Charter High School
Hip Hop Squares, Barbershop
4, including O’Shea Jr.
Ice Cube was born on June 15, 1969, in Los Angeles, to Doris, a hospital clerk and custodian, and Horsea Jackson, a machinist and UCLA groundskeeper. He grew up on Van Wick Street in the Westmont, California section of South Los Angeles. In ninth grade at George Washington Preparatory High School in Los Angeles, Cube began writing raps once challenged by a friend. After he wrote and recorded a few locally successful rap songs with N.W.A, he left for Arizona to enroll in the Phoenix Institute of Technology in the fall 1987 semester. In 1990, he formed his own record label, Street Knowledge, whereby a musical associate via the rap group Public Enemy introduced him to the Nation of Islam (NOI). Ice Cube converted to Islam. Questioned in 2017 over his religion, he said, in part, that he thinks “religion is stupid”. He estimated, “I’m gonna live a long life, and I might change religions three or four times before I die. I’m on the Islam tip—but I’m on the Christian tip, too. I’m on the Buddhist tip as well. Everyone has something to offer to the world.” On April 26, 1992, Ice Cube married Kimberly Woodruff, born September 1970. As of 2017, they have four children together. In the 2015 biopic Straight Outta Compton, his own son, O’Shea Jr., portrayed him.
At 16, Cube sold his first song to Eric Wright, soon dubbed Eazy-E, who was forming Ruthless Records and the musical team N.W.A, based in California. Cube would be N.W.A’s only core member not born in Compton. Upon the success of the song “Boyz-n-the-Hood“—written by Cube, produced by Dre, and rapped by Eazy-E, helping establish gangsta rap in California. Cube also wrote most of Eazy-E’s debut album “Eazy-Duz-It”. He received a total pay of $32,000, and the contract that Heller presented in 1989 did not confirm that he was officially an N.W.A member.
1989-1993: Early Solo Career, AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted, Death Certificate and the Predator
In early 1990, Ice Cube recorded his debut solo album, “AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted”, in New York with iconic rap group Public Enemy‘s production team, the Bomb Squad. Arriving in May 1990, it was an instant hit. His second album “Death Certificate” was released in 1991.The album thought to as more focused, yet even more controversial, triggering accusations of anti-white, anti-Semitic, and misogynist content. The album was split into two themes: the Death Side, “a vision of where we are today”, and the Life Side, “a vision of where we need to go”.
1993-1998: Lethal Injection and forming Westside Connection
Cube’s fourth album, “Lethal Injection”, came out in late 1993. After this album, Ice Cube effectively lost his rap audience. Following “Lethal Injection”, Cube focused on films and producing albums of other rappers, including Da Lench Mob, Mack 10, Mr. Short Khop, and Kausion.
In 1995, Cube joined Mack 10 and WC in forming a side trio, the Westside Connection. Feeling neglected by East Coast media, a longstanding issue in rap’s bicoastal rivalry, the group aimed to reinforce West pride and resonate with the undervalued. The Westside Connection’s first album, “Bow Down” (1996), featured tracks like “Bow Down” and “Gangstas Make the World Go ‘Round” that reflected the group’s objectives. In 1998, Cube was featured on the band Korn’s song “Children of the Korn“, and joined them on their Family Values Tour 1998.
1998-2006: War & Peace Vol.1 and 2
In November 1998, Cube released his long-awaited fifth solo album “War & Peace Vol. 1 (The War Disc)”. The delayed sixth album, Volume 2, arrived in 2000. These albums feature the Westside Connection and a reunion with his old N.W.A members Dr. Dre and MC Ren. Released in 2003, Westside Connection’s second album, “Terrorist Threats”, fared well critically, but saw lesser sales. After a rift between Cube and Mack 10 about Cube’s film work minimizing the group’s touring, the Westside Connection disbanded in 2005.
2006-2012: Laugh Now, Cry later, Raw Footage and I am the West
In 2006, Cube released his seventh solo album, “Laugh Now, Cry Later”, and selling 144,000 units in the first week. Cube’s eighth studio album, “Raw Footage”, arrived on August 19, 2008, yielding the singles “Gangsta Rap Made Me Do It“ and “Do Ya Thang“. As a fan of the NFL football team the Raiders, Cube released in October 2009 a tribute song, “Raider Nation”. On September 28, 2010, his ninth solo album, “I Am the West”, arrived with, Cube says, a direction different from any one of his other albums.
2012-present: Everythang’s Corrupt and forming Mount Westmore
In November 2012, Cube released more details on his forthcoming, tenth studio album, “Everythang’s Corrupt”. Releasing its title track near the 2012 elections, he added, “You know, this record is for the political heads.” But the album’s release was delayed. In 2014, Cube appeared on MC Ren‘s remix “Rebel Music“, their first collaboration since the N.W.A reunion in 2000.
Ice Cube has received nominations for several films in the past. To date, he has won two awards:
- 2000: Blockbuster Entertainment Award: Favorite Action Team (for Three Kings)
- 2002: MECCA Movie Award: Acting Award
- VH1 Hip Hop Honors 2006
- BET Hip-Hop Awards 2009
- BET Honors 2014
Hollywood Walk of Fame star 2017