Music

Bring Back the Jheri Curl

It's the Only Hope for Ice Cube

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THOUSANDS OF YEARS AGO, a gangsta named Sampson reigned supreme over the cities of the Philistines. He drank heartily of wine; he set fire to the tails of 300 foxes and sent them running through ramshackle villages; he slew over 1,000 Philistines with only the jawbone of a donkey.

And then, Sampson fell off. Under the spell of a white devil's nappy dugout, he told Delilah where his powers came from, and took a nap. When he woke up, he was bald, and he sucked.

Thousands of years later, Ice Cube (O'Shea Jackson) was coming straight outta Compton, rolling with Lorenzo in the Benzo, and sweating all the bitches in biker shorts. He was one of the most feared and influential black men in America—a scowling powerhouse with a Jheri Curl, prison blues, and a degree in architectural drafting that we didn't learn about until later. Single-handedly writing "Dopeman" and "Express Yourself," while co-authoring "Fuck tha Police," "Gangsta Gangsta," and "Straight Outta Compton," Cube created and defined a genre of music that has since become a ubiquitous, multi-billion dollar industry. After getting paid $32,000 with no royalties for all of his work on N.W.A.'s debut CD, Cube went on to create three amazing solo albums, shouting that "Eazy's dick is smellin' like MC Ren's shit." Then one day, Ice Cube woke up, was bald, and sucked.

In this world, there have been two Ice Cubes. The one who wrote, "To a kid lookin' up to me/Life ain't nothin' but bitches and money," and the one who's slated to star next year in the title role of Welcome Back, Kotter. What separates these two men who share the same body and name? Here's a hint: It's all about the activator. Jheri Cube hit Crenshaw swap meets, thought with his ding-a-ling, called police "faggots," shouted, "Fuck you bitch," and kept rolling. But after he decided that the Jheri-drip stood between he and that white devil money, his famous frown turned upside down, and as I write this, the sequel to Are We There Yet? is slated to begin production in June of this year.

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