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Meaning of the song ‘You Know How We Do It’ by ‘Ice Cube’

Released: 1993

“You Know How We Do It” by Ice Cube is a vibrant exhibit of the West Coast lifestyle, offering a glimpse into the world of hip hop in South Central Los Angeles. It’s about the hustle, the struggle, and the unwavering pride for the West Coast culture and lifestyle.

From the very start, Cube sets the tone with the refrain, “Fool, you know how we do it,” a nod to the world he hails from – the West Coast, specifically South Central L.A., known for its grit, tenacity, and vibrant culture. When he says, “ain’t nothin’ goin’ on but the bomb-ass rap song,” he’s stressing the significance of hip hop in their lives.

The line “Just like me on the black and white ivory / Gettin’ six on artillery” refers to the balance between art and the harsh realities of street life. The “black and white ivory” here are the keys on a piano, symbolizing the harmony in his music, while “gettin’ six on artillery” points to a weapon’s charge, reflecting the hostile environment he grew up in.

“Running from Lennox, up at Venice” speaks of the constant movement and evasion that’s often necessary in a hostile environment. Then he mentions, “They wanna have me in stripes / Like Dennis the Menace.” Here, he subtly highlights the impact of racial profiling and unwarranted labels, with “stripes” referring to a prison uniform.

Skipping to the verse, “Chillin’ with the homies, smellin’ the bud,” Ice Cube describes the laid-back vibe often associated with the West Coast. However, beneath this casual atmosphere, serious discussions are taking place as indicated by the succeeding lines, “About who got a plan, who got a plot / Who got got and who got shot.”

Delving deeper into the lyrics, when Cube says, “When Ice Cube write a sentence / I want The Bomb just like George Clinton,” he’s saying he wants his lyrics to have the same powerful impact as George Clinton’s music. And with, “S-K-P is down to catch a body / Put on ‘Knee Deep,’ we’ll turn out your party,” he references the party-anthem attitude of hip hop, with ‘Knee Deep’ being one of the biggest funk hits from Clinton’s band, Funkadelic.

In the latter verses, Cube uses “Jack be nimble, and Jack be quick” to point out the speed and agility required to survive within his environment. The lyric, “That’s how I poke hot lead in yo’ ass / With ‘Mo’ Bounce to the Ounce’ in the dash” suggests that, even amidst the violence and conflict of his world, the essence of music and the spirit of hip hop remain prevalent.

Overall, “You Know How We Do It” is an unfiltered snapshot of West Coast life, underpinned by a staple theme – the inescapable intertwining of art and conflict in hip hop. Ice Cube uses his lyrics to reflect the trials and tribulations of his context, all while asserting the profound bond to his West Coast roots.

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