Released: 1991

Aight, so check this, we diving into the raw, unfiltered ether of “No Vaseline” by Ice Cube. This joint right here? It’s the epitome of a diss track, a scathing retaliation against his former crew, N.W.A, and their manager Jerry Heller. Cube lays it down without a hint of subtlety, spitting venom after his contentious split from the group over financial disputes.

The track kicks off with Ice Cube setting the stage, letting everyone know that the drama with N.W.A ain’t finished—”it ain’t over, motherfuckers.” He’s prepping the mic to unleash havoc. He flips N.W.A’s own bars against them, referencing “A bitch is a bitch,” but that’s just the warm-up. Cube’s gonna dismantle the image and integrity of Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, MC Ren, DJ Yella, and Jerry Heller with each line.

First up, Cube takes aim at Eazy-E and Dr. Dre, mocking their authenticity and questioning their street cred. He drags them for what he sees as selling out and going Hollywood, abandoning their Compton roots. The line “Livin’ with the whites, one big house, and not another nigga in sight” is a brutal call-out of what Cube perceives as their departure from the realness they once represented.

Ice Cube No Vaseline

Cube then serves up some personal attacks, throwing shots at Dre’s production skills and accusing Eazy of being manipulated by Heller. By saying “But I’m a man, and ain’t nobody helpin’ me,” he’s declaring his independence, contrasting himself as a self-made success against his former homies, who he sees as puppets to their white manager.

He further humiliates them by claiming they’ve been duped out of their money—”gettin’ fucked out your green by a white boy with no Vaseline”—invoking one of the track’s key metaphors, suggesting they’re being exploited without lubrication, raw and painfully. The chorus keeps drilling this point home, a repetitive reminder that N.W.A is getting played without even realizing it.

Then Cube drops the hammer on Eazy-E’s loyalty, calling him a snitch and implying he’s close with the authorities, a severe accusation in the streets. He goes as far as calling Eazy a “Half-pint bitch,” showcasing Cube’s complete lack of respect for his former bandmate. The lines “Eazy-E would be hangin’ from a tree / With no Vaseline,” though hyperbolic, exemplify the extreme animosity Cube harbors towards him.

Finally, Cube addresses the racial politics at play, seeing Eazy and the rest as sellouts to their race by siding with Heller. The line “With a white Jew telling you what to do” is laced with antisemitic undertones, a controversial aspect of the song reflecting the raw, unfiltered discourse Cube is known for, though it’s a grim stain on his commentary.

The last verses are a blitz of personal attacks on Eazy-E’s sexuality, a common but problematic diss tactic in hip-hop culture at the time, equating homosexuality with weakness. Ice Cube finishes with a hefty dose of insults about Eazy-E’s appearance, calling out his nose job and Jheri curl, undermining his street image.

Ice Cube’s “No Vaseline” is hardcore, real talk, a landmark in the diss track genre for its brutal honesty and ferocity. It’s a history lesson in beef, a master class in vengeance, and a capsule of the animosity that can brew when brotherhood in hip-hop turns into rivalry.