IT AIN'T OVER MUTHAFUCKAS
Ice Cube left the seminal Compton crew NWA in December 1989 over a financial dispute. In May 1990 He dropped the classic AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted, on which he took the high road and didn't say one word about NWA or his split from the group.
Apparently, not being able to leave well enough alone and having 5 minutes and 13 seconds to fill on their May 1991 album, Niggaz4Life (the first half of which represents some of the best work of the genre, pre or post-Cube), they dropped "Message to BA" and "Real Niggaz."
The former is a weak collection of random, fabricated disses from NWA sympathizers, spoken answering machine style and punctuated with MC Ren explaining how he plans to formally introduce Ice Cube to a broomstick, should the two ever meet.
"Real Niggaz" on the other hand is simply an outstanding song featuring a driving beat and some of the most rapidly delivered furious rhymes NWA has ever kicked. And then late in the song someone seems to have said, "oh yeah, we gotta dis Ice Cube."
Perhaps there were some other more subliminal disses earlier in the track, but it's not until MC Ren drops this gem that it's clear that this is a dis record... well sorta:
"They played out, that's what niggaz were chanting / One nigga left and they said we ain't happening // People had thought we was finished and then done wit / But if you think about it, yo, we really ain't done shit"
And Dre follows up with:
"... We started out wit too much cargo / So I'm glad we got rid of Benedict Arnold
So after 19 tracks full of blistering, scathing social commentary and controversy, there is a brief pause at the end of Death Certificate and then Ice Cube is heard, almost in a whisper saying, "Damn. I forgot to do somethin'. … Oh yeah, it ain't over muthafuckas!"
And thus begins, not the shot across the bow, but the direct kill shot to the dome that is "No Vaseline" — The lyrical equivalent of a Mortal Kombat-style fatality in which Cube reached into NWA's collective chest and ripped out its heart, leaving only a shell of the World's Most Dangerous Group to collapse in total defeat.
How devastating was "No Vaseline?" Stripped of every last shred of street credibility NWA issued no reply record and shortly thereafter dissolved completely under a cloud of the same financial shadiness Ice Cube brought to light.
Why was the song so devastating?
Well, for the same reason Eminem's "Whitey's Revenge" obliterated Everlast and the reason the whole HipHop community let out a collective DAAAAAAAAAMN when Jay-Z rhymed to Nas, "I came in your Bentley backseat / Skeeted in your Jeep / left condoms on your babyseat" — because it's based on the truth.
The overriding theme of the song is that NWA's white manager Jerry Heller (or as he's known to Cube: white man, white boy, Jew, that devil, cracker), a then 51-year-old Jewish dude, was ripping off the group financially.
Equally significant is Ice Cube highlighting the irony of this crew of hardcore, Black gangsta rappers being engaged in any number of activities directly contrary to that hardcore image.
"Yella boy's on your team so you're losin'" — check — DJ Yella has gained more fame as a porn director than as the group's "DJ." And in the context of NWA what did that really mean? Dre did the bulk of the producing and it's not like any of the group's albums showcased any turntablism.
"You're gettin fucked out your green by a white boy with no Vaseline" — check — Two of the group's most prominenet members eventually left the group and Ruthless Records over financial disputes with Eazy E and Heller, signifying some type of fiscal shenanigans.
"You used to be down with the AK / now I see you on a video with Michel'le // Lookin' like straight Bozos / I saw it comin', that's why I went solo" — check — The video speaks for itself. Thanks YouTube
"House nigga gotta run and hide / Yellin' Compton but you moved to Riverside" — check — NWA group members moved into a large home in the Los Angeles suburb of Riverside.
"I'll never have dinner with the president!" — check — On March 18, 1991 Eric "Eazy E" Wright paid $1,230 to attend the Salute to the Commander in Chief, sponsored by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, attended by 1,400 Republicans and punctuated by a speech from President George HW Bush.
When asked about the event, one of The Villain in Black's spokespeople told Entertainment Weekly, "Eazy really loves the president. He thinks he's a great humanitarian and that he did a great job with Desert Storm."
The HipHop Thugsta told the Washington Post, "I do support the president's policy in the Persian Gulf. I'm not against anything, really, that he's doing."
Eazy offered a pseudo explanation in an op-ed piece in the LA Times.
And for the record, this wasn't the last, uhhhh, questionable decision Eazy made. Imagine the additional ammunition Ice Cube would have had if Death Certificate was released a year later when Eazy E, performer on the classic record "Fuck Tha Police," decided to publicly support Theodore J. Briseno, one of the accused officers in the Rodney King beating trial. The bizarre position prompted Geto Boys member Willie D to proclaim, "Eazy-E is a sellout!"
By any dis record standard, "No Vaseline" gets high marks. But when the dis record simultaneously humiliates and sticks a fork one of HipHop's most important groups, it has to be considered among the ranks of the greatest ever.