Ice Cube is a highly respected figure in both hip-hop and Hollywood. As one of the godfathers of gangsta rap, the rapper (real name O’Shea Jackson) has become an international star. However, he did not expect his son to achieve the same feat, nor did he provide him a leg-up. Some celebrity figures give their children handouts and call-in favours to make them famous. Many in hip-hop accuse Will Smith of this and criticise him for it. However, Ice Cube has not come under the same scrutiny for such a deed. It is common knowledge he never flung his children into the spotlight. Especially not his eldest son O’Shea Jackson Jr.
Born in 1991, O’Shea Jackson Jr is an actor and rapper and is the eldest of Ice Cube’s four kids. Many had no idea bout O’Shea Jackson Jr. until it hit the headlines in 2014 that he would be playing his dad in the 2015 biographical film Straight Outta Compton. His unsurprising, uncanny resemblance to his father made him the perfect individual to play Ice Cube. The movie acted as an exceptional launchpad for his acting career, and he would go on to take on other projects and endeavours within Hollywood.
Ice Cube ensured his kids would never have to struggle as he did in Compton. To ensure he and his family were as far from danger as possible, the ‘You Can Do It’ rapper moved his wife and children to the San Fernando Valley, home to the Kardashians. Irrespective of where he grew up, Jackson Jr. still tried his hand at rapping and (for a short while) performed under the stage name Doughboy. With such an interesting rise to fame and a large filmography, in 2021, music publication NME, sat down with the actor to speak about his childhood as Ice Cube’s son and his musical influences.
Speaking with NME journalist Mark Beaumont, Jackson Jr. spoke on various artists and genres of music. When questioned about the first record he truly fell in love with, the actor reflected and unveiled that it had to be ‘I’m Going Down’ by the iconic R’n’B singer Mary J. Blige. Detailing how he became attached to the track, the thespian explained, “That song, my mum had on repeat because she saw what it did to me. I still get a little bit of chills when I hear it because it’s just so nostalgic.”
He proceeded to add, “It makes me feel like I’m in the backseat while my mum drives us to school. It has such a warm place in my heart. At that young age, you don’t know nothing about love, you don’t know nothing about true pain, but it’s just that voice of Mary J. It reminds me of the times before I even knew what the world was or knew any of the hardships that one faces. It was a simple time in my life and a beautiful song.”
Beaumont and Jackson continued to delve deeper into the actor’s relationship with music. Along the way, he revealed that the first album he ever bought with his own money was Redman’s Malpractice, and recollected how his mother warned him about the language. However, eventually, they got onto a particularly interesting topic. Live performances. When the journalist inquisitively questioned the rapper about his first experience of a live performance, the actor responded with no hesitance, “Ice Cube”.
Jackson Jr. spoke about how he and his family spent much time on the road accompanying their father. He explained, “I’m a tour baby. I was two years old, going around the world, going to London and Germany on tour with my dad, sitting in my mum’s lap on the side of the stage.” The Straight Out Of Compton performer then detailed, “I eventually ended up joining him on stage when I was 18, when I turned 18 is when he kind of put me to work. I was helping build the stage, helping break it down, in charge of towels, going to soundchecks, taking bags, anything to give me that feel of what it is to really be on the grind out there.” It undoubtedly must have been electrifying for the actor to see his father on stage at such a young age. Below you can watch some footage of an Ice Cube concert.