Ice Cube, an indomitable pillar on the Mount Rushmore of hip-hop, has put together a discography that’s as much about collaboration as it is about solo storytelling. His work is a testament to how the gritty veracity of the rap game plays out when mixed with other mavens on the mic. This list of his best collaborations takes us through a sonorous safari of his storied career, featuring verses from the likes of Omg Oumy Gueye, Doughboy, WC, and Maylay, among others.
Blessed with the versatility to mesh with anyone from the unabashed Yo Yo and Flavor Flav to the street-poet Snoop Dogg and Chuck D, Cube’s collaborative dexterity is awe-inspiring. His ability to navigate the spectrum from the smooth-talking tales of Jayo Felony and Mack 10 to the hard-hitting punch of Korn and Dr. Dre, proves his status as a universal adapter of hip-hop. Add a sprinkle of Too $hort, a dash of MC Ren, mix in a little Das EFX, and you’ve got a flavor every true rap connoisseur can appreciate.
Ice Cube has collaborated with the following greats:
- Omg Oumy Gueye
- Jayo Felony
- Yo Yo
- Flavor Flav
- Snoop Dogg
- Pusha T
- Mack 10
- Chuck D
- Chris Rock
- Mr. Short Khop
- George Clinton
- Squeak Ru
- Dr. Dre
- Krayzie Bone
- Lil Jon
- Ms. Toi
- Too $hort
- MC Ren
- Das EFX
What we have here is essentially a musical mural on the wall of hip-hop – a canvas painted with Cube’s raw rhymes interlaced with the stylistic signatures of these various artists. The result is a compilation that serves as a microcosm of hip-hop’s evolutionary arc.
So let’s get into the collaborations list. From the smooth sailing of ‘You Can Do It’ to the raw eruption of ‘Check Yo Self’, here are the Best of 23 Ice Cube Collaborations, Ranked from Worst to Best.
23 Y’all Know How I Am
Born out of Cube’s undeniable swagger, this track is a presentation of his unapologetic vibe that’s been rocking the music scene since his N.W.A days. The lyrics are assertive declarations of his self-confidence and street cred, embodying the spirit of the hustler in him.
In this joint, Cube makes it clear that he’s the embodiment of L.A hip-hop – all about keeping it real, not conforming, and going hard. Doubled down with a gritty Ice Cube flow, the lyrics paint a raw yet slick picture of the artist, declaring his street-savviness and refusal to bow down to anyone. The chorus, on repeat, is an aggressive embrace of his image, cementing his unwavering nature.
While it may not have made the heavy-hitting charts, “Y’all Know How I Am” offers a bold insight into the iconic West Coast rapper’s mindset, adding another layer to Cube’s multifaceted hip-hop legacy.
22 Life In California
The track is a defiant salute to the Golden State, resonating with a braggadocious swagger that’s quintessentially Ice Cube. The lyrics paint a vivid portrait of the urban hustle, living fast and chasing dough from L.A. to the Bay, repping the West Coast to the fullest. Cube makes it clear that this ain’t no R&B or Motown tune; it’s Rapid-fire Authentic Poetry (R.A.P.).
No stranger to controversy, Cube showcases his consummate storytelling skills, bringing to life a vivid tapestry of California’s streets amid gunplay and survival. He asserts his status as the West Coast king, slamming the industry and keeping it 100. The song channels the spirit of the streets – the grind, grit, and glee exhibited by the players in the game. This unapologetic anthem of west coast life comes at you with one potent undercurrent: Ain’t no denying that Ice Cube reps where he stays, proving why he’s a cornerstone in the edifice of Hip Hop culture.
21 It’s A Man’s World
Cube’s verse reflects that old-school, patriarchal flavor of hip-hop, boasting about his one-night stands, the power of his sexuality, and the autonomous nature of his existence. He lyrically walks the tightrope between bravado and misogyny, sharing a worldview that somewhat dismisses the worth of women to serving men.
However, the track takes an insightful twist. In response, Yo-Yo enters the scene, challenging Cube’s lofty claims with a hip-hop-infused feminist discourse. She confronts the machismo, speaking of the value women bring beyond just their physicality, and the inherent strength they possess. Yo-Yo counters Cube’s sexism with lines indicating that without the influence and work of women, men’s achievements would be unattainable. She celebrates women’s liberation while critiquing the misogynistic aspects of society, thus providing a much-needed counterbalance to Ice Cube’s male bravado. Ultimately, the song shows a dynamic battle of the sexes, underlining the complexities of gender roles within the realm of hip-hop.
20 I’m Only Out For One Thang
The track delivers a stark juxtaposition of Cube’s witty wordplay and Flav’s raucous energy, which, mixed with the provocative nature of the lyrics, makes it a full-blown embodiment of hip-hop’s rebellious spirit. The narrative is centered around courting a woman, framing it within Cube’s broader commentary on the struggles of urban life. Embedded in the story are key elements like Cube’s femme fatale, the pursuit of pleasure, and the sheer resilience of a scrappy upstart from the ‘hood. As with many of Cube’s tracks, the undercurrent of social criticism is palpable. Ice Cube isn’t just a rapper, he’s a raconteur, using his vivid tales to shed light on the reality that many turn a blind eye to.
19 You Gotta Lotta That
The player’s anthem, laying bare the swaggering bravado and candid sexuality woven into the complex tapestry of Cube’s lyrical genius. The track centers on Cube’s unapologetic fascination with a woman’s physical allure, her “ass” as he indicates, and his ensuing pursuit of her. Rife with gritty metaphors and brazen bravura, the song is a demonstration of Ice Cube’s mastery at weaving narratives around desire, charisma, and male bravado.
Though sexually explicit, Cube manages to infuse a certain sly charm into his lyrics, his bold lines interlaced with a dash of humor and a heavy dose of street-smart wit. He navigates the themes of attraction, lust, and sexual conquest with a deft hand, his words brimming with characteristic confidence. The song is a celebration of raw desire, served up in Cube’s inimitable style. No holds barred, no apologies given; it’s Ice Cube at his most audacious.
18 Late Night Hour
The track effortlessly marries Cube’s hardcore West Coast rap style with the Neptunes’ funky, innovative beats. The lyrics paint a picture of a life steeped in the gritty reality of inner-city struggles, while also creating imagery of luxurious, hedonistic nightlife. Cube’s narrative is assertive and unabashedly rebellious, reflecting his own journey from the rough streets of Compton to the heights of rap stardom. Throughout the song, his wordplay is sharp, gritty, and laced with a dark humour that’s been a hallmark of his career. The lyrics show Ice Cube as the “beast” on the block, unapologetic about his wealth and success, and unafraid of confrontation, whether it’s with the police, rival gang members, or anyone who underestimates him. A key takeaway from the track is Cube’s constant emphasis on authenticity, with the recurring line “if it’s what ya need boy, do ya thang” underlining the importance of staying true to oneself, no matter the circumstances.
17 Make It Ruff, Make It Smooth – Remastered
This richly nuanced song features Ice Cube in conversation with K-Dee, bouncing bars off each other as they delineate their perspectives on the complex spectrum of hip-hop – from raw, unfiltered hardcore to smoothly articulated lyrical mackin’. Cube’s verses show off his ability to spit bars that are as tough as they are clever, adhering to the ‘ruff’ aesthetic he’s cemented in the game. On the other side, K-Dee lays down his smooth style, painting an intriguing contrast to Cube’s approach.
As the song unfolds, both find common ground in their desire for respect, power, and authenticity. “Make It Ruff, Make It Smooth – Remastered” blurs the lines between the hardcore and the mellow, embodying the dichotomous quality of the genre and Ice Cube’s ability to maintain his balance on that tight rope. This collaboration offers listeners an intriguing perspective into the dualistic nature of hip-hop, providing a robust journey through its diverse soundscape.
16 What Can I Do? – Remix
He masterfully paints a gritty picture of his journey from the drug-fueled streets of South Central LA to a newfound understanding of the consequences of his actions. Cube explores the struggle of escaping the cycles of crime and incarceration, detailing his journey from the dangerous world of drug trade to the sobering reality of prison life. The remorse and frustration in his tone reflect his struggle of making sense of the path he’s treading on. His lyrical prowess, combined with the haunting samples that punctuate the song, serve as a stark reminder of the bleak future that awaits those who fall into the trap of the streets. The title question, “What Can I Do?” rings through as a resigned plea for redemption and change, echoing the sentiment of many caught in similar circumstances.
15 Endangered Species (Tales From The Darkside)
The track offers an unfiltered lens into the heart of the socio-political climate Ice Cube and his community face – from police brutality, inner-city violence, to the harsh reality of being young, black, and perceived as a threat. Cube’s verses paint a bleak picture of survival, telling a compelling urban narrative laced with anger and frustration.
On the other hand, Chuck D’s verse offers a pan-Africanist perspective, advocating for unity and understanding of the shared plight among individuals of African descent worldwide. The intertwining narratives of Cube’s hyper-specific urban condition and Chuck’s broader societal analysis make “Endangered Species” a powerfully articulated piece that underscores the double-edged sword of racial tension and internal community struggles. A protest in form and function, it remains an enduring testament to Ice Cube’s status as a vital, socially conscious voice in hip-hop.
14 You Ain’t Gotta Lie (Ta Kick It)
Cube, one of the most influential figures in hip-hop, discerningly calls out the fibs and pretentiousness that often shroud the industry. He decodes the lies, peeling back layers of deceit to expose the authenticity beneath.
The track is a manifesto of truth, with Cube stressing that realness trumps all – you don’t need to spin tall tales to fit in or to impress. The lyrics are unapologetically forthright, dismissing fake personas and unnecessary opulence. Through blunt dialogues, it encapsulates his no-nonsense approach to the game, emphasizing that respect comes from honesty and talent, not from surface-level braggadocio.
From an outspoken critique of law enforcement to lamenting false alliances, Ice Cube lays down his reality without sugar-coating. He makes it clear that he’s all about the genuine, raw essence of hip-hop and doesn’t have time for lies. This track is, at its core, a reality check – a potent reminder that in hip-hop, as in life, authenticity should reign supreme.
13 Pushin’ Weight
Cube comes through with the sort of bravado only a rap veteran could deliver. He’s unapologetically asserting himself, laying claim to the fact that he’s been in the rap game much longer than many could fathom. He equates his lyrical delivery to dealing weight, exploiting the commonality between the hustle of the streets and the struggle for hip-hop dominance. He’s not merely dishing out words; he’s distributing potent lyrical doses that incite both thought and attitude. It’s about survival, navigation, and retaliation amid the gritty realities of urban life. Beyond the boasting and braggadocio, the track is a stark reminder of Cube’s prodigious ability to push rhyme weight, influencing countless emcees by setting an indomitable benchmark in hip-hop culture.
12 Bop Gun (One Nation)
Couched in Parliament-Funkadelic references, Cube riffs off George Clinton’s ‘One Nation Under a Groove,’ embedding this rhythmic journey with a gritty narrative of street-level realities and a celebration of Black unity. The “Bop Gun” is a symbol of empowerment; it’s a metaphorical weapon that “frees your mind”. This mirrors the overarching theme of the song – liberation through the power of music, specifically the funk, which has deep roots in the African American experience. Cube’s lyrics split hairs between cutting social commentary and bold humour, creating a narrative that’s gritty yet light-hearted. The song is rueful yet optimistic, stark yet soulful. The intertwining of hard-hitting rap verses with a buoyant funk track showcases Ice Cube’s versatility and his ability to exist and excel in the musical grey areas, bridging the gap between funk and the emerging West Coast rap scene.
11 Bop Gun (One Nation) – Remastered
The track rides on a danceable groove, fueling Cube’s incendiary lyricism that’s as biting as it is playful. Previewing how adept he is at weaving socio-political commentary with street knowledge, Cube presents an audacious narrative that’s as much about resistance as it is about having a good time.
Layered symbolically with the ‘bop gun’ metaphor, Cube seems to be saying he’s here to shake you out of your complacency. He’s here to make you dance, to make you feel, and most importantly, make you think. From his curt dismissal of ‘drama’ to his self-assured proclamations of ‘one nation under a groove’, Cube portrays a world of defiance and joy, dark but uplifting. This track isn’t just a party anthem, it’s a fist raised in defiance, a beacon of resilience. It’s a slamming celebration of unity in the face of adversity, foreshadowing Cube’s evolution from N.W.A’s hothead to a thought-leader in the genre.
10 Bop Gun (One Nation) – Radio Edit
Known for his eloquent delivery and raw persona, Ice Cube joins forces with the imitable George Clinton, bridging the gap between funk and rap. The song has Ice Cube’s trademark grit and defiance, while delivering powerful commentary on individual liberation and unity, giving a nod to Parliament-Funkadelic’s original message. He uses vivid imagery and compelling metaphors, framing life in the West Coast context — the smog-filled streets and the pursuit of fun despite hardship. The playful jabs at law enforcement and societal constraints showcase Cube’s audacious style. This innovative track blurs genre lines – funk meets rap, old school meets new, making it a classic testament to Ice Cube’s pioneering spirit and hip-hop’s ability to channel cultural evolution.
9 The Gutter Shit
This is Ice Cube, the Don Mega of West Coast hip-hop, at his rawest and grimiest, alongside Jay-O Felony, Gangsta and Squeek Rule. Expressing a clear disdain for pretentiousness in the rap game, they lay down rhymes about keeping it real, staying true to the streets, and celebrating their unabashedly ‘gutter’ roots.
The track is filled with cultural commentary and social insights, portraying the life and struggles of the average person clawing their way out from the underbelly of society. Cube proudly proclaims his origins from “the gutter,” while dismissing the shiny veneer of commercial rap. “That play it for your mother sh*t,” as he calls it. The gritty verses are a mirror reflecting the harsh reality of struggle and survival at the bottom of the societal hierarchy.
8 Fuck Dying
With its unapologetic defiance in the face of mortality, the rap veteran positioned himself as an eternal force in hip-hop. The lyrics embody the persona of the ‘Don Mega’, a name signifying Cube’s dominance in the game. Cube makes it clear that he ain’t going nowhere, he’s in this for the long haul, refusing to falter or fade. He invites listeners to join his cause, promising to provide an army against the struggles of life.
The gritty narrative born out of LA’s concrete jungle screams with audacious resistance, illustrating Cube’s refusal to surrender to the systemic powers. He challenges convention with the mantra “Fuck Dying”, implying he’d rather confront challenges head-on than accept defeat. The song, much like Cube’s career, marks a resolute stand against anything threatening to undermine the spirit of hip-hop. While the gallant track can be seen as Cube’s personal assertion of longevity, it also speaks to the enduring power of the genre itself. Just like Cube, hip-hop ain’t dying—it’s here to stay, persevering and pushing through, delivering blow after blow against societal structures.
7 Natural Born Killaz
Dr. Dre. paints a gritty picture of urban life, capturing the essence of a ‘maniac’s’ mentality. Steeped in an atmosphere of paranoia and violence, Cube and Dre take listeners on an intense journey through the streets, armed with a chillingly vivid narrative.
The lyrics frame the protagonists as unstoppable forces, “doomed to be a killer” from birth, navigating a labyrinth of hazards in the form of shady figures and imminent danger. The song serves as a grim commentary on the enduring cycle of violence and fear, characterized by confrontations and the threat of death looming overhead. Amidst the unease, however, Cube and Dre also exhibit a dark fascination with chaos, drawn to the ‘sound of sirens’ and ‘terrified screams.’
6 Until We Rich
The track serves as a motivational anthem for the hustlers in the struggle, telling them ain’t nothing impossible. Cube spits in his classic West Coast style, showcasing his lyrical proficiency and unique storytelling ability. The lyrics delve into the harsh reality of street life, encouraging listeners to strive for success despite the odds.
The song presents a narrative that many can relate to; the quest for wealth not just for the luxuries it can buy but for the security and stability it can offer. Ice Cube and Krayzie Bone deliver heartfelt verses that emphasize the importance of mental strength, self-reliance, and determination in achieving one’s dreams. They urge the youth to be ambitious, to stay true to themselves, and to never lose focus of their goals. “Until We Rich” is not just hip-hop; it’s a manifesto for survival and success in the toughest of environments.
5 Go To Church
It’s an anthem for the resolute, paying homage to the gritty underbelly of the streets while advocating for self-confidence and action rather than fear-induced silence. The lyrics position the trio as rule-breakers rebelling against societal norms, employing street parlance to emphasize their own hardcore personas, standing firm in their gangster identities and defiantly challenging anyone trying to cramp their style.
Ice Cube plays on the Church-Streets dichotomy, encouraging those too scared to live the street life to take their fears to the church. He also highlights the struggle of trying to make a name in the hip-hop sphere and contends the authenticity of those who seem powered by ‘steroids’ rather than raw talent. Snoop Dogg parlays his Long Beach roots into an edgy verse about running the club scene. It’s no stretch to say that “Go To Church” is an unequivocal assertion of their thug life cred, a clear demonstration of hip-hop’s rebellious spirit.
4 You Can Do It
From a thematic standpoint, the lyricism is centered on the grind – the non-stop effort that goes into achieving one’s goals. It’s not merely about survival; it’s about thriving. Cube takes us through this journey with his renowned grit and unapologetically raw style.
Embedded is also an appreciation for the good times, from partying to getting intimate – an ode to the joys that sweeten the grind. This balance of work and play creates a narrative relatable to those who live the hard-knock life but find time to revel. Special mention goes to the chorus line that urges listeners to put their back and their ‘ass’ into whatever they’re doing. It’s a brash, playful prod that resonates with Cube’s overall audacity.
While there’s an undertone of aggression, the song finishes with an almost celebratory vibe – a testament to the pleasure and fulfilment derived from the pursuit of one’s dreams, hard-won wins, and celebrated shared connections.
3 Ain’t Got No Haters (feat. Too Short)
Cube’s supercharged charisma is in full effect here, gliding on the west-coast flavored beats, painting a vivid picture of a life devoid of haters, but instead filled with the spoils of his triumphant career. With braggadocious bars, Cube showcases his high-rolling lifestyle, dismissing the notion of adversaries. Too Short jumps in with his distinctive cadence, upping the ante with his tales of hustling, and getting paid for calling out fake players in the game. This track is a testament to resilience in the face of adversity, a celebration of solid longevity in the mercurial world of hip-hop. The message is clear: persistent hustle, along with originality, leads to a life where detractors become non-existent and you’re left basking in layers of success.
A testament to Cube’s resilient legacy in the game. The track sees Cube reunite with his N.W.A. brethren, Dr. Dre and MC Ren, marking a powerful return of the legendary West Coast group. The lyricism is a reminder of Ice Cube’s unapologetic, defiant persona that positioned him as a vocal critic of socio-political issues. The song’s chorus is a greeting to the haters and naysayers, asserting the continuance of his influence in the scene despite the odds. Interweaving narratives of street life with a triumphant, no-holds-barred approach, Cube’s verses are layered with a hustler’s wisdom born from South Central, LA. The production, courtesy of Dr. Dre and Mel-Man, oozes that vintage G-funk sound, steering clear of the mainstream, affirming Ice Cube’s commitment to his roots. All in all, “Hello” is a booming, straight-shooting West Coast anthem that underscores Ice Cube’s indelible footprint in the hip-hop game.
1 Check Yo Self
The narrative pushes listeners to be wise about their choices, reminding them of the dire consequences they might face if they don’t keep themselves in check – a wreck. Ice Cube’s gritty lyrics are laced with vivid street vernacular, painting a grim picture of the hood where he grew up. The rapper doesn’t shy away from tackling provocative themes, showcasing the harsh realities, the betrayal, and the violence that often spring from blind ambition.
The song is anchored by Ice Cube’s trademark delivery – assertive, unapologetic, and downright menacing at times. But it’s not all doom and gloom; the track is packed with witty wordplay and sharp one-liners that add a layer of irony and humor to the message. The way Cube constantly switches the narrative perspective keeps the listener on their toes, ensuring the staying power of this unforgettable track.