This is an installment in The Posse Project, a 12-day series in which www.PHXmusic.com catches up with all 12 guys pictured on the cover of N.W.A's first album,
N.W.A. and the Posse. Today, we continue with Ice Cube, N.W.A's main lyricist who went on to become a superstar solo rapper and later an actor. To read the other installments click here.
Also Known As:
O'Shea Jackson, Purple Ice.Before the Picture
: The product of a middle-class nuclear family, Ice Cube started rapping in high school and former a group called C.I.A (Cru' In Action
) with Sir Jinx
and Kid Disaster
. He was tapped by Eric "Eazy E" Wright to write rhymes for Ruthless Records' acts and wrote classics like "Boyz-n-The-Hood
" before leaving Los Angeles to attend technical school in Phoenix for a year. Cube earned a degree in architectural drafting at the Phoenix Institute of Technology, a school at the corner of 24th Street and University, south of the airport, which closed in 1993 without being absorbed by another institution. Unfortunately, the only records the state maintains on the school are student files protected by federal privacy laws.
"The rap game wasn't looking too solid at that time so I decided to go ahead and go to school," he was quoted as saying.
In the Photo: Details about Cube's early career are hard enough to come by without adding on the extra challenge of sorting out the minutia involved in an old record cover. For example, even Joel McIver, the author of Ice Cube: Attitude, a biography of the rapper, has details about the photo wrong.
McIver, a Brit more famous for his best-seller, Justice For All: The Truth About Metallica, writes that "the cover was a generic shot of the band, plus the other rappers who appeared on the record (Dr Rock, the Fila Fresh Crew, Ron-De-Vu - a sometime rapping partner of Eazy-E in his early days - among them) in a typically urban graffiti-wall setting."
Not only is not one of the artists McIver namechecks in the photo, hopefully the past 10 days of The Posse Project have shown this photo is anything but "generic," though it was seemingly designed to appear that way. That's less a reflection on McIver's book, which is very good, than on difficulty tracking these guys down, and on the myths developed around N.W.A in the following years. No one has more to gain from those myths than Ice Cube, who is probably N.W.A's most image-conscious member.
However, if a guy who wrote a 270-page book on Cube can't sort out the rapper's role in the photo, I won't try to do it here. Cube's publicist declined an interview request so his part in The Posse will remain a mystery a little longer.