Ice Cube once unveiled the strange origin of his stage name
(Credit: Paramount)

Old School Archives

Ice Cube once unveiled the strange origin of his stage name

Ice Cube is a name known throughout hip-hop, from his breakthrough as part of N.W.A. to his outstanding success in Hollywood as an actor. The legendary rapper was responsible for hits such as ‘F*ck Tha Police’ and ‘It Was A Good Day’. However, the origin of his stage name is bizarre, to say the least.

Born and raised in the Crenshaw neighbourhood of South Central LA by his mother, Jackson grew up with his older brother and half-sister, who got tragically murdered when he was 12. However, it was the performer’s older sibling who would end up giving him his name.

As a youngster, Jackson was quite loud and was an audacious, exciting character. It was this that led to John Singleton’s interest in Ice Cube. The director saw this and knew that Jackson was an actor in waiting and, as such, cast him in his first film, Boyz n the Hood, which became a breakout hit.

Although Jackson’s charisma eventually helped him get his foot in the door of Hollywood, when he was growing up as a young, reckless child in Crenshaw, it landed him in some heated exchanges. One of which was with his brother.

One of Ice Cube’s most well-known characters is James Payton, the witty police officer he plays in the hit comedy film franchise Ride Along. While promoting Ride Along 2 in 2016, Jackson sat down with Peter Travers of to speak about the movie and the dynamics of LA, where the film is based. 

Speaking about the prevalence of nicknames, Jackson revealed how he became known as Ice Cube, recalling, “My brother gave me that name when I was younger. I was about 12 [or] 13, and he’s nine years older than me. And, you know, around that time I’m coming into puberty. I’m kinda ready to figure out what the world is all about.”

He continued, “He was never at home, and his girlfriends would always call, and I would pick up and try to talk to them and try to convince them to leave him and come with me. And he got so mad with me one day; he said, “Man, you know what? I’m gonna slam you in that refrigerator. You know, [as a] matter of fact, I’m gonna shove you in the freezer [and] pull you out when you’re an ice cube.”

Jackson divulged that from then on, he made sure everybody called him ‘Ice Cube’ until it naturally stuck, and people in the neighbourhood knew him as O’Shea ‘Ice Cube’ Jackson. He also explained it on The Howard Stern Show the same year. You can watch Jackson explain it in the video below.