What do I need to know?
Back in the early 90s Ice Cube was far from the guy you see in Coors Light commercials and big screen comedies today. He was the self proclaimed “Ni–a Ya love to Hate” and after leaving N.W.A and working with Public Enemy on his debut album “AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted” he was in full political form by the time “Death Certificate,” his second full length, dropped.
What’s the story?
On the surface “I Wanna Kill Sam” is Ice Cube’s straight up death threat on wax to Uncle Sam, the iconic personification of the U.S. government. After Cube dispenses with the specifics of the impending beatdown he starts explaining his beef with “Sam”. It’s here that if you dig slightly deeper and get your Michael Eric Dyson on you’ll find that Cube is juxtaposing the slave trade with the modern military. Throughout the song Cube drops clips of cliche Army rhetoric (“We do more before 7 am than most ni–as do in their whole lifetime”) and Uncle Sam going door to door recruiting through selective service (“I have reason to believe someone in this household is 18, am I correct?”) to show a few of the ways the government is trying to trick African Americans into enlisting with false promises only to realize later they were being setup.
“He came to my house, I let ’em bail in
Cause he said he was down with the L.M
He gave up a little dap
Then turned around, and pulled out a gat
I knew it was a caper
I said, “Please don’t kill my mother,” so he raped her
Tied me up, took me outside
And I was thrown in a big truck
And it was packed like sardines
Full of ni–as, who fell for the same scheme
Took us to a place and made us work
All day and we couldn’t have shit to say
Broke up the families forever
And to this day black folks can’t stick together”
Is it any good?
This song bangs!! Lyrically Ice Cube was on top of his craft and at this point in his career he was one of if not the best MC in the game. He was hard to the core but dropping knowledge and challenging the system all at the same time. Sonically, Sir Jinx kept it funky with Parliament and James Brown samples among others to keep your head nodding while Cube dropped more jewels “than Slick Rick and Mr. T in a fist fight.” “I Wanna Kill Sam” is just one of a number of tracks on “Death Certificate” that interspersed social consciousness in the midst of hardcore gangsta rap. Conceptually and musically “Death Certificate” is arguably Ice Cube’s best album and one of the greatest hip hop LPs ever made.
Type of knowledge dropped?
Definitely political but let’s be honest Ice Cube has a pretty jaded view of the government with his belief that everything from taxation to H.I.V are ruses to hold minorities down. But he is so in your face and drops enough truths and plausible arguments to at least make you think and challenge your perception of the system. Additionally, he was speaking for a subculture that really did feel this way and still do to this day! Regardless of President Obama’s residence there is still a lot of mistrust (some manufactured and some legitimate) of the government be it state, local or federal.