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‘Lethal Injection’: Ice Cube’s Stellar Fourth Album

The MC’s fourth studio album paired his reliably uncompromising lyricism with increasingly tuneful P-funk musical influences.

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Cover: Courtesy of Priority Records

Released at the tail end of 1993, Ice Cube‘s fourth studio album pairs the Los Angeles MC’s reliably uncompromising lyricism with increasingly tuneful P-funk musical influences. “One nation under a groove getting down for the fuck of it/ Tear the roof off this motherf***er like we did last night, son/ And hit you with the bop gun,” brags Cube on “Bop Gun (One Nation),” a luminous eleven-minute tune that calls on the support of Parliament/Funkadelic founder George Clinton to push home Cube’s funk bona fides.

Listen to Ice Cube’s Lethal Injection now.

Flush from the crossover success of 1992’s “Today Was A Good Day,” key moments on Lethal Injection hint at Cube’s transition from agitated rap spokesperson to mainstream pop culture figure. The album’s second single, “You Know How We Do It,” is like an unofficial sequel to “Today Was A Good Day,” with Cube riding a relaxed backdrop that’s based around “Summer Madness” by Kool And The Gang. “Chilling with the homies, smelling the bud/ Double parked and I’m talking to Dub/ About who got a plan, who got a plot/ Who got got, and who got shot,” raps Cube, relaying his daily operations in unhurried fashion while peppering his verses with name-checks to fellow west coast hip-hop contemporaries including Compton’s Most Wanted figurehead MC Eiht.

Ice Cube - You Know How We Do It (Official Music Video)

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There’s a similarly melodic lilt to large sections of Lethal Injection. “Make It Ruff, Make It Smooth” co-stars K-Dee from Cube’s Da Lench Mob collective and spotlights the two MCs engaging in a game of lyrical contrast over its elegant synth-centric sway; “Down For Whatever” is a slinkily growling slice of G-funk delivered by Madness 4 Real; and “When I Get To Heaven” spotlights Cube coating his lyrics in a spiritual sheen as he calls out the tenets of certain organized religions over pillowy bass and flute.

When I Get To Heaven

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“Listen to the preacher man, but are you talking to me?” questions Cube at the outset of the song, which closes out the album. Then the MC gets prickly mode and reminds us that – even when matched with production to soothe – he has fire in the belly: “I can’t hear you with a mouth full of pig’s feet/ If I should need the swine flesh/ Your body is a mess, but you’re blessed/ With a father, son, spirit and the holy ghost/ But my whole neighborhood is comatose/ Looking for survival/ The devil made you a slave and he gave you a bible.”

Listen to Ice Cube’s Lethal Injection now.

Hip-Hop 50 logo

In celebration of hip-hop’s 50th anniversary, uDiscover Music is publishing 50 album reviews throughout 2023 that highlight the breadth and depth of the genre. The Hip-Hop 50 logo was designed by Eric Haze, the mind behind iconic graphics for EPMD and LL Cool J.

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