DAR Roundtable: Ice Cube's AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted vs Death Certificate

With the NWA movie doing amazing numbers(check Tye's review), we decided to take a look back at Ice Cube's first two solo albums and determine which is better. Without further adieu...

AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted

1. Better Off Dead 
2. The Nigga Ya Love To Hate
3. AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted
4. What They Hittin' Foe
5. You Can't Fade Me
6. Once Upon A Time In The Projects
7. Turn Off The Radio
8. Endangered Species(Tales From The Darkside)
9. A Gangsta's Fairytale
10. I'm Only Out For One Thang
11. Get Off My Dick and Tell Yo Bitch to Come Here
12. The Drive-By(Interlude)
13. Rollin' Wit' The Lench Mob
14. Who's The Mack 
15. It's A Man's World
16. The Bomb


Death Certificate

The Death Side
1. The Funeral(Intro)
2. The Wrong Nigga To Fuck Wit'
3. My Summer Vacation 
4. Steady Mobbin
5. Robin Lench(Interlude)
6. Givin' Up The Nappy Dug Out
7. Look Who's Burnin'
8. A Bird In The Hand
9. Man's Best Friend
10. Alive On Arrival
11. Death

The Life Side
12. The Birth
13. I Wanna Kill Sam
14. Horny Lil Devil
15. Black Korea
16. True To The Game
17. Colorblind
18. Doing Dumb Shit
19. Us
20. No Vaseline

If I have to choose between Ice Cubes first two solo albums, I'm taking Death Certificate. I love AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted, but I always thought Death Certificate just sounded better overall. I'm a sucka for the old school storytelling and concepts from early 90s hip hop, so "Once Upon A Time in The Projects" and "Gangsta's Fairytale" almost made me reconsider and say it's a tie, but a good 70% of my favorite Cube tracks come from the sophomore project.
I think everything Cube did on AMW, he improved in on Death Certificate. Even though he sounded a little less aggressive, I always felt like he showed more lyrical versatility and personality on DC. "Steady Mobbin" and "Givin Up the Nappy Dug Out" are probably my favorites on the album(the latter always held a special place in my heart, since most of my girlfriend's fathers hated me, at least the few that had fathers around). On top of that, "No Vaseline" is probably a top 3 diss track and imagining Eazy E's Jheri curls getting burned off never gets old. Both classic albums easily, but Death Certificate wins to me.

AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted was a great and vicious start to Ice Cube's solo career. Ice Cube is aggressive and unapologetic. By the second track, you might have what's the best song on this album. Explosive Bomb Squad beats and proudly proclaiming he doesn't care about haters, but is angry at the way he's treated. You even get a taste of the Afrocentric Ice Cube on this album. "A Gangster's Fairytale" is definitely a peak on this album. On "I'm Only Out For One Thang", Flavor Flav's humor with Ice Cube's usual misogyny makes the two a great duo for this ode to blowjobs and sex. This record is a great example of East meets West in hip hop recorded before the Death Row vs Bad Boy feud. This album is definitely a classic, but not Cube's best record.

Death Certificate is probably one of the most controversial albums of that time. Again, Cube comes straight off the bat with what might be his second best song as his second track. One of the most slept diss tracks of all time in my opinion is also on this album. The duality of "the death side" and "the life side" really makes this a cohesive album. Nobody is safe from Cube's crosshairs, not whites, women, Asian Americans, Jews, gays or former friends. The skits set the mood for the album, not just lyrically but musically. "Black Korea" has to be the standout track on this album. Cube was the voice of black discontent, whether it was reasonable or not. Cube returns to his West Coast roots on here and that's a sound I love to hear out of the two. I just barely choose this one over AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted.

Both albums are classics to a lot of rap fans, but the album I love the most is Death Certificate. Cube was of course ANGRY, but it was more focused than AMW. A more cohesive project. More driven by the Rodney King trial, while maintaining his views towards the police and America in general. Death Certificate had a more serious tone than AMW. What's weird to me is that AMW seemed to focus more on production while Death Certificate focused more on the lyrics and storytelling. It should've been the other way around in most cases, but not complaining. Cube also split the albums into two parts. One side displayed where we were as people today, while the other focused on where we needed to go, the solutions to the problem. Strong subject matter dealing with rioting(Black Korea), police brutality, STD's (Look Who's Burnin), retrospective tracks(Doing Dumb Shit), dealing with the military (I Wanna Kill Sam), and funny gem track(Givin Up the Nappy Dug Out) helped Death Certificate become Cube's strongest and most socially conscious album. A very well structured album that is no skip classic material. I can't say the same for AMW because I definitely skipped a lot of tracks off that album.

This is extremely difficult for me, but I gotta go with AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted. This is because it's Ice Cube at his most angriest and raw. When this album had released, it was at a time where America was at an increasingly dangerous level of tension. This debut album definitely did not things make any better, as the album definitely explores the theme of prevalent racism. Many lyrics on this album definitely could be identified with many race-related events that's going on right now, therefore giving the album a timeless feel. Songs like "The Nigga Ya Love to Hate", "Endangered Species", and "Who's the Mack?" are among my favorites. Frightening yet powerful and compelling, AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted ranks as the best Ice Cube album to me.

I would have to go with Death Certificate. Both albums are complete classics, and this is a tough choice, but Death Certificate is one of the greatest hip hop albums of all time. Cube seemed to be on a journey, looking to find more answers and solutions. The album is split up into two parts and every song has a meaning. Iconic songs and most of Cube's best comes from the Death Certificate album, so I have to pick that one.

What do you think? Revisit these albums and let us know in the comments below.



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