Ice Cube Stays ‘True to the Game': Sept. 14 in Hip-Hop History
On this day in hip-hop history, Ice Cube released the scathing "True to the Game," Amy Winehouse and Nas are born, Destiny's Child cement their legacy, Eve dropped her debut album and a civil suit alleging child sexual abuse is filed against Michael Jackson.
1992: Ice Cube releases "True to the Game"
The final single from Ice Cube's 1991 classic, Death Certificate, which is widely regarded as one of the best hip-hop albums ever, "True to the Game" features three storytelling verses about "sellouts" who he feels betrayed by black folks with their various supposed misdeeds and choices. The first is a dude who's married to a white woman and has moved to the suburbs, denying his roots. Cube kidnaps the guy and throws him in the trunk. Next up to feel Cube's wrath is an MC Hammer look-alike, whom Cube accuses of "giving our music away to the mainstream." "On MTV but they don't care / They'll have a new n-gga next year," Cube , tells the Hammer impersonator before tossing him in the truck too. The third verse is directed towards a sellout who "don't associate with the 'Negroes'" as he attempts to whiten himself to climb the corporate ladder. Cube kidnaps all three offenders, ties them up and forces them to listen to what's assumed to be some preaching about what it means to be black in America. Death Certificate is definitely an angry record, with a fed-up Cube weaving complex stories about what's like growing up black in a historically oppressive country, and "True to the Game" is one of its most direct singles. In 2017, the album was re-issued by Interscope, and Cube talked about its continued impact to Variety.
“I would hope a record like Death Certificate has helped to enlighten people about how a lot of people felt when I released it in ’91, and understand about how some of the most militant in [the black] community still feel and why," he said. "The record is really meant to build understanding in a lot of ways, even though it’s pretty hardcore. So to see that we’re still going through some of these same issues, and to think that the record is probably going to piss off just as many people as it did when it was first released, that just lets you know where are as a society."
1993: Civil suit filed against Michael Jackson for allegedly sexually abusing a 13-year-old boy
In the summer of 1993, Evan Chandler accused Michael Jackson of sexually abusing his 13-year-old son, Jordan. After failing to come to a financial agreement, Chandler filed a civil suit on Sept. 14, 1993. The accusation became the first to go public against the superstar singer and, in 1994, Jackson reached a settlement with Chandler, closing the criminal investigation. Evan accused Jackson of molesting his son but the boy's mother said the accusations were false, and defended Jackson, saying he didn't have an inappropriate relationship with her son. Jackson ended up canceling his Dangerous World Tour in the midst of the allegations, which he later addressed from his Neverland Ranch via satellite in December 1993.
"As you may already know, after my tour ended I remained out of the country undergoing treatment for a dependency on pain medication," he said. "There have been many disgusting statements made recently concerning allegations of improper conduct on my part. These statements about me are totally false. ... I will say I am particularly upset by the handling of the mass—matter by the incredible, terrible mass media. At every opportunity, the media has dissected and manipulated these allegations to reach their own conclusions. I ask all of you to wait and hear the truth before you label or condemn me. Don't treat me like a criminal, because I am innocent. I have been forced to submit to a dehumanizing and humiliating examination. ... It was the most humiliating ordeal of my life, one that no person should ever have to suffer. ... But if this is what I have to endure to prove my innocence, my complete innocence, so be it."
1993: Prince looks back with The Hits/The B-Sides
Prince dropped a massive collection of his songs, the three-disc The Hits/The B-Sides on Paisley Park Records/Warner Bros. in 1993. The album debuted at No. 19 on the Billboard 200 when it was released, but re-entered the chart at No. 6 in 2016 following the superstar's unexpected death. The album featured the previously unreleased song, "Pope," featuring Prince's future wife Mayte, which found the icon dabbling in rap.
Prince reportedly had little interest in the project. However, he had his longtime manager, Alan Leeds, write the liner notes instead of Rolling Stone journalist Neal Karlen. This was the same year that Prince engaged in a battle with Warner Bros., changing his name to an unpronounceable symbol, and appearing publicly with the word "slave" written on his cheek.
“A lot of people didn’t know what I was doing,” he told The Guardian in 2011, “but it helped some people. I don’t care what people think.” He’s not as angry now. “I don’t look at it as Us versus Them. I did. But you know The Wizard of Oz? When they pull back the curtain and see what’s going on? That’s what’s happened.”
1993: Poor Righteous Teachers release Black Business
The third album from Poor Righteous Teachers, Black Business, peaked at No. 29 on the Rap/Hip-Hop chart. The 13-track record was pushed by the single, "Nobody Move," which had moderate success. The Trenton, N.J. group was celebrated alongside other acts like Public Enemy and X-Clan for their moral approach to music, an ideology group member M.O.I. JR explains came from being members of the Nation of Gods and Earths.
"The impact on our music was in direct measure to the profound impact the NGE had on our lives as young black males growing up in America," he told the San Francisco Bay View in 2011. "The NGE nurtured good habits like reading and studying, which in turn oriented us to the social and political construct in which we were embedded. Awareness of this 'racialistic' environment gave – not only our lyrics – but our general conversation and lifestyle meaning and substance."
1993: Judgment Night soundtrack released
Featuring a merger of rock and hip-hop acts, the soundtrack to the action thriller, Judgment Night, was released in 1993. The movie starred Emilio Estevez and Cuba Gooding Jr., and was moderately successful, though one of its biggest selling points was the rock-rap pairings on the soundtrack. Though rockers and rappers had joined forces before 1993, (Public Enemy and Anthrax, Ice T and Body Count, among others) the Judgment Night soundtrack was one of the early times the merger's viability was really tested for an entire album. Among the standouts on the soundtrack were the Teenage Fanclub and De La Soul collaboration on "Fallin," Faith No More and Boo-Ya Tribe's collaboration on "Another Boy Murdered," and Helmet and House of Pain hooking up on "Just Another Victim." The soundtrack peaked at No. 17 on the Billboard 200.
1999: Eve's debut album Let There Be Eve... Ruff Ryders' First Lady arrives
The debut album from Eve arrived in 1999, and just in case the title isn't clear enough, she was the only woman rapper in the Ruff Ryder's all-male crew. The album went double platinum, propelled by the singles "Gotta Man," and "Love Is Blind" featuring Faith Evans. Produced almost entirely by Swizz Beatz, the album also pushed Eve to become only the third female hip-hop act to hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, a feat previously accomplished by only Lauryn Hill's Miseducation of Lauryn Hill in 1998 and Foxy Brown's Chyna Doll earlier in 1999. Before Eve's debut dropped, it was much anticipated. Prior to signing to the Ruff Ryders, she'd had a stint on Dr. Dre's Aftermath Records, though she said it "just wasn't the right situation." Even back in 1999, the rapper/actress had vision.
"I want to break into so many other things: movies, management, production," she told Rolling Stone in 1999, upon the release of her album. "Acting I know I could do...."
2000: Destiny's Child drops "Independent Women, Pt. 1"
First appearing on the soundtrack to the hit remake of Charlie's Angels in 2000, "Independent Women, Pt. 1" by Destiny's Child was also included on their smash 2001 album, Survivor. The song remains one of their signature tracks, a feminist anthem that stands alongside their other hit, "Survivor." The song held down the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 for 11 consecutive weeks. It's the first song to feature vocals from Michelle Williams and the only single to feature Farrah Franklin's vocals.
Nas, Mic Geronimo and Amy Winehouse are born
On 1973, Nasir Jones, better known to the world as Nas, was born in Queens, N.Y. Considered one of the best emcees to ever pick up a mic, his most recent effort, NASIR, was produced entirely by Kanye West and in dropped in June 2018. In 1973, Mic Geronimo was also born in Queens. His 1995 TVT debut, The Natural, featured then-unknown rappers DMX, Ja Rule and Jay-Z. In 1983, singer Amy Winehouse was born. Her signature album, the soulful 2008 record Back to Black, is considered one of the best releases of the past two decades, and was nominated for five Grammys. Winehouse tragically died of alcohol poisoning in 2011 at only 27.