Death Certificate, Ice Cube’s unflinching manifesto of early 90s young black male attitudes, targeting sellouts, uncle toms and even N.W.A. it is a brutal listen at times and not for the close-minded, the timid or the ignorant. His previous solo debut “AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted,” stuck a middle finger to mainstream America, “Death Certificate” moves on to even more relevant issues.
Ice Cube was never as angry as he was on this album, dealing with problems and injustices on every track, he is a man on a mission. Lyrically it’s one of my favorites. He uses metaphors often to explain his views, and emerges as one of hip hop’s best storytellers, spinning yarns of violence and struggles in the ghettos of South Central Los Angeles. This album was very controversial for its profanities and the way that Cube sometimes comes across as racist, sexist, and intolerant, because he tends to call it “like it is,” but he does his best to justify his views. A lot of the songs are short but get their point across, so there is never a dull moment.
“Death Certificate is not for the weak of heart or mind. but is an infinitely rewarding musical experience”
Musically, there is no way anyone can deny the absolutely mind blowing complexity in the production at work here. the massively underrated Sir Jinx as well as Cube himself craft unbelievable beats obviously heavily influenced by the Bomb Squad production on Ice Cube’s first record. The amount of texture and depth to these beats, and the inventiveness and precision of the multi-layered samples used, result in some of the finest production ever heard in hip hop. Some of the best bits include the muffled drunken wail of the horns and the funky breakdown on “Black Korea”, the huge snare on “Man’s Best Friend”, the ridiculous vocal sample on “My Summer Vacation”, the bird call scratches on “A Bird In The Hand”. and Ice Cube as a rapper – his turn of phrase, his rhythm and his immense voice – was never and has never been better. Every syllable is ferociously slammed onto the beat like one of those licence plate machines and enunciated with such unbelievable clarity and power.
An absolute classic!!