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How Ice Cube used one of his songs to show his softer side

Ice Cube, along with Ice-T, was a pioneer of gangsta rap and one of the founding fathers of hip hop in California. Throughout the late 1980s and 1990s, Ice Cube was the face of LA hip hop and made several hits.

From ‘F*k Da Police’ to ‘Check Yo Self’, the LA rapper was unmatched in his city. However, although the Compton rapper had his edgy, gangsta sound, that is not to say the rapper (real name O’Shea Jackson) didn’t have a softer side, and for Cube’s third album, The Predator, he put away the rugged Ice Cube we all knew and let his softer more vulnerable self come to the forefront. 

‘It Was A Good Day’ is the second single from the rapper’s third solo album, The Predator, released in 1993. Containing a sample from The Isley Brothers’ single ‘Footsteps in The Dark’, the single is slow and smooth.  The song was intended to be a contrast to the other songs on the album, which was recorded in the wake of the 1992 LA Riots. When talking about the inspiration behind the song, the rapper stated, “The inspiration was my life at the time… I was at the top of the rap game. It was the summer of ’92, and I was in a hotel room, really in a state of euphoria. I had all the money I had dreamed of. I was in a good frame of mind. And I remember thinking, ‘Okay, there’s been the riots, people know I will deal with that. That’s a given. But I rap all this gangsta stuff – what about all the good days I had?”

An extremely popular song, ‘It Was A Good Day’ is a dreamy ballad of optimism. Released in February 1993 on Priority Records, the song reached number 15 on the Billboard Hot 100 and is certified gold in the US and UK. One of the rapper’s pivotal songs, the track has aged beautifully, and a lot of hip hop fans have found they appreciate it more in hindsight. ‘It Was A Good Day’ was Ice Cube’s way of trying to remedy the dystopian sentiments that arose in LA after the riots by reflecting on all things positive. Hip hop embraced the song, produced by DJ Pooh, considering it a breath of fresh air and a much-needed break from the violence and aggression gangsta rap exuded. ‘It Was A Good Day’ received lots of spins on Urban radio stations, and even some play on Top 40 stations with audacious program directors.

Although the track is mostly positive and provides a streak of optimism and vulnerability, rarely seen from the gangsta rapper, Ice Cube ends this song on a negative note, ordering his DJ to stop the record and declaring, “Stop this s–t! What the f–k I’m thinking about.” 

‘It Was A Good Day’ was even accompanied by a music video that shows the day from start to end. We see Ice Cube waking up in the morning, eating breakfast with his family and driving around in his car. We see him play basketball with his friends, watch TV and relax as he drinks and smokes. The music video (directed by F. Gary Gray) is uncomplicated and shows a mere day in the life of Jackson. The ending is somewhat dramatic, but we can’t give it all away.

‘It Was A Good Day’ is a classic, and Ice Cube was softer and more vulnerable than ever. You can watch the music video for ‘It Was A Good Day’ below.