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“It Was a Good Day” – Ice Cube

If rap music has power ballads, then this may be its finest.  I was 13 in the spring of 1993, the same time MTV began airing the music video for what would become Ice Cube’s most recognized anthem.  In 1993, MTV was one of the two ways I learned about new music (the other being my sister away at college and the mix tapes she would make me…bands with crazy names like Hootie and the Blowfish and Counting Crows).  The problem was my parents, who didn’t care for MTV any more than they cared for my burgeoning sense of fashion.  For that reason, most of my viewing took place when I had the house to myself.  It was then, as a 13-year-old suburban white boy, that I realized I loved rap music.

There was and is something altogether relaxing about “It Was a Good Day.”  Perhaps it’s the laid back sampling, the steady, if not monotonous melody that loops throughout the track and invited me into an average day in South Central Los Angeles.  Maybe it’s Ice Cube’s delivery, which is never rushed, making it all the easier for me to rap along with.

Just wakin’ up in the mornin’ gotta thank God

I don’t know but today seems kinda odd

No barkin’ from the dog, no smog

And mama cooked a breakfast with no hog.

Ice Cube likes pork products for breakfast?  This I could relate to.  Hooking up with girls and wondering if I’d live to see another day?  Not so much.  But sausage biscuits?  I feel that.  For real.  Of course the music video made the lyrics come alive.  Ice Cube looked like a total badass cruising the city streets in his classic candy apple green Chevy Impala, the hydraulics thrusting the car up and down to match the beat.  Of course I was unfamiliar with the entire vernacular. “Brew,” “chronic,” and certainly “punanny” were all foreign nouns as far as I was concerned.  My sheltered childhood had left me behind my public school contemporaries, but thanks to a largely descriptive music video, I was quickly putting two and two together.  It wasn’t just the depiction of casual sex and recreational drug use that seemed so authentic, or for that matter, so raw.  It was the flow of the words, not unlike poetry, that grabbed me.  It was unlike anything I had heard up until that point.  Granted, my only real exposure to rap had been M.C. Hammer and (please understand that it pains me to write this) DC Talk, which would be a little bit like only ever eating at the Olive Garden before moving to Italy.  There was no comparison.  I was hooked on the phrasing, the clever word play, the ability to weave a story into four minutes of rhymes.  Both Vanilla Ice and Snow had ruined everything for white rappers a few years before, and Eminem had yet to break through, so I doubted a career was in the cards for me.  That, however, didn’t stop me from rapping in the car, in the shower, and in my head.

And it still hasn’t.

Drunk as hell but no throwing up

Halfway home and my pager’s still blowing up

Today I didn’t even have to use my AK

I gotta say it was a good day.

Find more artists like Ice Cube at Myspace Music.