The 20th Anniversary Of Ice Cube’s ‘Death Certificate’

By Nadeska Alexis

Ice Cube’s classic and controversial 1991 album Death Certificate celebrates its 20th anniversary on October 29. The Priority Records release was Cube’s second solo album—the South Central rapper parted ways with NWA in December 1989—and it sold over 100, 000 copies during its debut week. Besides making a historic dent on the music charts, the album was praised and lauded for its risqué content, which found Cube delving into politics, crime and, of course, his gritty street tales.

A few of the album’s popular songs included “Black Korea,” “No Vaseline,” and My Summer Vacation,” which became anthems following the album’s release. “My Summer Vacation,” in particular, painted a vivid tale of a drug dealer’s grind, with Ice Cube detailing the strategy of L.A. drug dealers who relocated to St. Louis one summer to increase their profits.

Reaction to the LP was extra explosive thanks to the timing of its release. Death Certificate followed N.W.A.’s 1990 Ice Cube diss tracks “100 miles and Runnin’” and “Real Ni–az.” Cube’s back-and-forth with his former group members had sent anticipation for the album soaring, and it peaked with the scathing diss track “Vaseline.” It would take a while for the heat to cool off, with the record ultimately selling over 1.5 million copies.

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Due to Death Certificate’s overwhelming popularity, the album was re-released on Priority Records in 2003, bearing a new cut “How to Survive in South Central,” taken from the Boyz n the Hood soundtrack. Last month, Boyz n the Hood John Singleton told IndieWire that he was in talks to direct an N.W.A. biopic. “I can’t talk about it too prematurely about the stuff I’m doing because nothing’s come to fruition yet, but Cube and I are talking about doing the N.W.A. story,” Singleton explained. “The script is really, really good, and so we’re just figuring it out. New Line really wants to make it.”

We’ll stay tuned for an N.W.A. biopic, but in the meantime, cheers to 20 years of Death Certificate!