With the remastering of Ice Cube's first four albums -- "Amerikkka's Most Wanted" (1990), "Death Certificate"(1991), "The Predator" (1992) and "Lethal Injection" (1993) -- it was incredibly difficult to pick just one for review: four landmark albums released over four years, with no decrease in quality. And though "Amerikka's Most Wanted" (here augmented with the "Kill At Will" EP) still stands as one of the most impressive solo debuts ever released, containing two certifiable gangsta classics in "The Nigga Ya Love to Hate" and "Get Off My Dick and Tell Yo Bitch to Come Here," and though Cube found substantial mainstream success with "It Was A Good Day" off "The Predator," "Death Certificate" was the bomb that blew up across America. And for good reason. The gritty and witty sense of humor that Ice Cube has used to such great effect in movies merges with tough talk and deep flowing G-funk to sharpen the brash violence of "Amerikka's" rough edges into an alarmingly effective attack. Sure, he received appropriate criticism for the homophobic, anti-Semitic and misogynist rhymes that pepper the work. ("No Vaseline" is still jaw-droppingly shocking in its vitriol.) But for every numbskull lyric Cube spits out, there's a half-dozen others that are revelatory for their realism. Utterly devoid of any ethical commentary other than a common-sense dismissal of stupidity, it's all about storytelling. Sonic improvements mean the new CDs of "Death Certificate" are more capable of delivering the thick-ass Parliament samples Da Lench Mob loved so much, and the overall effect is that much stronger for it. Black-aware teacher, gangsta-tough bad boy, bitch-slapping asshole, morally-neutral poet -- whatever you think about Ice Cube, you think it because of this album. Now you can think about it again.
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