These are some responses to a number of the questions that have already been raised repeatedly by people aware of this project. I’m sure there will be more, but for now these constitute the most frequently asked.
Q: Does this mean you think Ice Cube is the greatest rapper of all-time?
A: Not at all. As a matter of fact considering how precipitously his skills declined after the Predator album, culminating with the god-awful, your career is officially over, hot garbage horribleness of this verse from 2001's "Connected For Life," I have a hard time arguing he should be in the top 30:
To all them bitches that think they bootylicious
I think they nutritious - I think they do dishes
I'm makin three wishes, or takin' they pictures
And spendin' they riches and fuckin' they bitches
Ego maniac - little homies call me brainiac
Ice Cube's an asshole and it ain't an act
So take a hit of that - and remember that
Where my motherfuckin niggas and my bitches at?
Q: Why have you overlooked all of the anti-homosexual references peppered throughout the album?
A: I haven’t overlooked them, and they are definitely there, but complaints about homophobic lyrics in rap songs have to take a bronze medal to misogyny and depictions of Black on Black violence on the list of things to be offend by.
If I can overlook Ice Cube calling for the lynching and burning of a Black man, the incessant use of the word nigga, and a host of other things in order to see the album as a complete piece of art told from a specific perspective, then you can set aside your complaints — especially if they are relegated only to the anti-gay references and Black on Black violence, misogyny, and the word nigga don’t ruffle your feathers.
I prioritize concern based on the magnitude of the problem and the number of victims of Black on Black violence and violence against women are staggering. Should terms like "fag" and "faggot" be used to degrade or dehumanize? Of course not. I'm not here to defend that, but I'm also not going to pretend that language, as provocative, insensitive or politically incorrect as it may be, has ever actually prevented me from being able to assess an album in total. Perhaps a lifetime of listening to HipHop has desensitized my ears.
Ice Cube gave a direct warning about the most violent and deadly civil disturbance in the past two centuries, along with a warning about the conditions and patient care at the primary hospital serving the most disadvantaged area of the county.
To become hung up on the offensive language and stopping there is like criticizing Paul Revere for whipping his horse and ignoring the fact he sent up the call that the British were coming.
And while we're on the subject of words and language, let’s pause to highlight that on later pressings of the album, the word "Jew" has been scrubbed out but "nigga" is crisp and clear and oft repeated. Hmmmm.
Q: Why do you call yourself the Hiphop Taliban?
A: You can’t give yourself a nickname. HipHop Taliban was bestowed upon me by a longtime friend due to my apparently fanatical devotion to declaring what is and is not real HipHop.
Q: Isn’t that name disrespectful to the troops and the victims of 9/11?
A: Well first of all it’s not HipHop Al Qaeda.
It's not any more disrespectful than Hova is blasphemous.
Besides, as far as I’m concerned the HipHop-related name to be up in arms about is Rick Ross, who named himself after "Freeway" Rick Ross, the asshole who flooded Black communities nationwide with tons of cocaine/crack in the '80s. Crack cocaine has devastated generations of Black people and communities to a greater extent than any plot conceived by any semi-state sponsors of terrorism.
So you wanna be mad at something, start with that treasonous bastard and the fat wack rappin' jackass who thought it would be cool to steal his name and make you shake your rump.
Q: What about 2Pacalypse Now
While the album is solid, it is Tupac’s first. Even though his passion, charisma and seemingly boundless energy carry the album, it is a raw product with lyrical and rhythmic peaks and valleys that prevent it from being his best work, yet alone one of the great HipHop albums.
2Pacalypse Now is another album that has some of the elements that make Death Certificate HipHop’s greatest, but not enough to qualify it to be ranked the greatest.
Q: Does this mean you think Death Certificate is HipHop’s most important album?
A: No. Without albums like Criminal Minded, Nation of Millions, Straight Outta Compton, Run DMC, The Message, Paid in Full, HipHop would never have advanced beyond disposable pop culture party rap (ie Disco), and therefore an album like Death Certificate would not have been possible.
Important albums mark some shift or advancement in the music that allow it to expand into other areas it previously hadn’t existed. HipHop’s most important albums tend to be skewed toward much older releases, as it was much easier to find new ground to break 30 years ago when the art form was in its infancy.
For Example, Straight Outta Compton, Nation of Millions, and Criminal Minded are incredibly important albums. However, it can be argued that Niggaz 4 Life, Fear of a Black Planet and Edutainment are better, more polished and focused albums, both lyrically and technically, even though the older albums are much more important in the course of HipHop history.
"The Message," by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five and "Rapper’s Delight" by the Sugarhill Gang are arguably the two most important songs in the history of HipHop, but they are definitely not even in the discussion as far as the greatest songs from a rhyme skills and lyrical perspective.
Q: Who are you to say which album is HipHop's greatest?
A: In the words of Ludacris.... "B--ch, I'm Me!" For a more formal answer, click here
Q: Does Ice Cube consider Death Certificate to be his best album?
A: I conducted an interview with Ice Cube back in 1997 and at that time he told me Death Certificate was his best album. He also told me he planned to return to the more political themes and topics he hit on with Death Certificate. Unfortunately that never occurred. This is a clip from that interview: