There are no payoffs like dream payoffs; the messy dissolution of NWA – prompted by Ice Cube’s departure in 1989 over a royalties dispute with manager Jerry Heller – would’ve ended the careers of many other artists, especially given the West Coast’s perceived lesser influence over the rap movement at the time.
Cube included references to Heller in his homicidal diss to his old crew No Violence – “Light ’em up, burn ’em up, flame on/’Til that Jheri curl is gone”- but by 1992 he was a platinum selling artist in his own right following the success of AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted and Death Certificate. Both were unflinching portrayals of the life; thirty years on, the language has lost little of it’s gift for controversy, but none of it’s power either.
It Was A Good Day found a man on the top of his game, raking in the green and with access to everything ghetto escapes were supposedly for. Cars, girls, sunshine, drugs, LA on it’s best day, a vitamin D soaked Isley Brothers sample, it was a hedonistic shopping list of good, delivered in a laconic, eased back set of breaths that made everyone put their safetys back on. It wasn’t of course like rap had gone middle class, as Cube reiterated, in a fog of weed smoke with surprise when he said “I didn’t even have to use my AK”, but when you’ve beaten the odds, your old crew and your nemesis, you celebrate, your way.