Wednesday, December 17, 2014

TMFW 67 - Ice Cube's Good Day

[Note: today's TMFW deals with an Ice Cube rap song from the early 90s, and as such uses some crude language and themes.  If you are of delicate sensibilities, you might choose to sit this one out.]
Before he was the star of heartwarming movies like "Barbershop" and "Are We There Yet?", before he hung out with Elmo on Sesame Street, and before he was engaged in a battle over "who's colder" with a bottle of beer, Ice Cube was an influential hip hop artist.  A principal contributor to the commercialization of "gangsta rap," Cube (do we call him "Cube"?  Didn't we have this same issue with Kenny G in TMFW 38?) wrote the lyrics to Eazy-E's song "Boyz-n-the-Hood" (audio NSFW) and wrote most of the lyrics on N.W.A.'s breakout record Straight Outta Compton.  After royalty disputes - what's more gangsta than that? - Cube left N.W.A. and started a solo career.

Ice Cube released his third solo album, The Predator, in 1992.  The record went double platinum, lead by the single "It Was a Good Day" The song tells the story of, well, a good day for Cube.  The lyrics detail everything that happened:

Cube woke up to a day with no smog in LA, ate breakfast cooked by his mother, and then headed out in his convertible.  He "got a beep" from a woman named Kim, who told him that she "can fuck all night," then joined some friends at a park for basketball, where he "freak[ed them] like MJ."  He drove home, unmolested by the police, and then headed to his friend Short Dog's house and watched "Yo! MTV Raps."  At Short Dog's they played craps and dominoes. Cube performed well at these games, as he notes that he "picked up the cash flow."  He left Short Dog's and picked up a woman who he had been pursuing for some time.  He supplied beer and she supplied marijuana, and that night the LA Lakers beat the Seattle SuperSonics in basketball.  Cube and his lady friend had relations, to the point that his efforts put the young lady to sleep.  He woke her up to bring her home, and she complimented his physical prowess by calling him "top gun."  After dropping his friend off at her home, he went to a Fatburger drive through at 2 a.m.  Though he was "drunk as hell" he did not throw up.  Cube also notes that he saw the Goodyear Blimp, that nobody he knew was murdered, and that there were no police helicopters flying that night.  Finally, he notes that he did not have to use his AK gun, and concludes that the day "was like one of those fly dreams" and was a good day.

"It Was a Good Day" was released February 23, 1993.  It reached #1 on the Billboard rap chart and #7 on the R&B/Hip-Hop chart, and is now seen as a classic. 

All of that is a nice backstory, but what makes it a TMFW entry is that, in January 2012, a blogger/comedian named Donovan Strain announced that he had calculated the precise date that Ice Cube had a good day.  Using the clues left in the song - "Yo! MTV Raps" was on, the Lakers beat the Sonics, it was a clear day with no smog, Ice Cube had a pager so they were at that time commercially available, he saw the Goodyear Blimp, he got a Fatburger at 2 a.m., etc. - Strain systematically narrowed down the options and landed on January 20, 1992.  He therefore dubbed January 20 "National Good Day Day."

Predictably, the internet reacted with glee.  A clearly amused Ice Cube played it cool when asked about it, saying only "nice try." But others fact-checked the claim, and with one exception - was it November 30, 1988 instead? - January 20 has become the agreed date.  In fact, this year Ice Cube celebrated National Good Day Day by helping to raise $25,000 for a south central LA charity and watching as the Goodyear Blimp took to the sky and flashed "Ice Cube Says Today Was a Good Day" in lights.  Goodyear even invited Donovan Strain along to the festivities.  He gladly went, and had a good day.

BONUS FACT: The "Kim" who pages Ice Cube in the song - the one who "can fuck all night" - is Kimberly Woodruff.  She and Ice Cube have 4 kids together, who are between the ages of 13 and 25.  They have been married for 22 years. 

BONUS FACT 2:  This is only tangentially related, but I enjoy this picture of someone's creative, friendly graffiti at a soda fountain.

BONUS FACT 3:  The late 90s and early 2000s saw a wave of "ironic" covers of rap songs by white artists.  The most famous is perhaps The Gourds' cover of Snoop Dogg's "Gin and Juice," but apropos of today's fact Dynamite Hack does a solid cover of NWA's "Boyz-n-the-Hood" (audio NSFW on both of those).   I am not sure how to feel about the cultural-appropriation-as-a-
gag nature of the songs, but they are fun to listen to and they sound good.

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