Sign Your Death Certificate

October 17, 2017

 It has been an overwhelmingly strong reemergence of interests in entrepreneurship in the Black community in the United States. With Dr. Boyce Watkins, Dr. Umar Johnson, Dr. Claud Anderson, Killer Mike and Willie D to name a few pushing for Black financial independence and Jay Z releasing his latest album 4:44 that has heavy overtones of financial literacy and talks of establishing your own and escaping the corporate plantation. It brought to mind one of the greatest hip-hop albums ever recorded and released in my opinion Death Certificate by Hip-Hop Icon ice Cube. He spoke of financial freedom 25 years before Jay Z, I’m going to take this time to re-visit this work of art and give my assessment of the lyrics track by track.

Death Certificate released in October of 1991 by solo artist Ice Cube former founding member of gangster rap group N.W.A. Cube had always spoke with a sense of revolution in his lyrics even in his N.W.A. days but with the release of Death Certificate he addressed issues that were very critical and spoke directly to the black community and forced us to have self-reflection, and take responsibility for our own actions. The way that he broke the album up side A was the death side and side B was the life side. I’ll start this assessment with the death side.

 

The first track on the Death side was titled The Funeral, it was an interlude:

The Funeral:

Niggas are in a state of emergency
The death side, mirror damage of where we are today
The life side a vision of where we need to go
So sign your death certificate

Fuck all, y'all
Lisa got him

Alright, on three, one, two, three
Come on brothers we gotta walk this way
Can't believe it man
The homeboy, hey, open that door
Open it, alright 'right

We've come together by God's demand
Whether it be for life or death
Well, this morning, it's over the mourning
Of one of our little brothers

This brother was a good brother
He didn't get into an excessive amount of trouble
But it's one thing, it's one thing, it's one thing
He was the wrong nigga to fuck with

 

What Ice Cube was saying with this interlude was showing that we are dead in this society as a people and in order for us to be reborn again and escape this nigga mentality of self-hate, gang banging, drug dealing, promiscuity, and fleeing the cooperate plantation we must bury the nigga mentality and be reborn again as a Black nation which he goes more in depth on the B side.

The next track I want to speak on is titled Summer Vacation the subject of this song is about a group of California drug dealers that travel to St. Louis to set up shop in a ghetto and taking over the drug trade in that community.

 

Summer Vacation:

This is the final boarding call for flight 1259 
Departing from Los Angeles final destination to St. Louis 
Thank you 

Damn G the spot's gettin' hot 
So how the fuck am I supposed to make a knot? 
Police looking at niggas through a microscope 
In L.A. everybody and they momma sell dope 
They trying to stop it 
So what the fuck can I do to make a profit? 
Catch a flight to St. Louis 
That's cool, cause nobody knew us 
We stepped off the plane 
Four gang bangers, professional crack slangers 
Rented a car at wholesale 
Drove to the ghetto, and checked in a motel 
Unpacked and I grab the three-eighty 
Cause where we stayin', niggas look shady 
But they can't fade South Central 
Cause bustin' a cap is fundamental 
Checkin' out every block close 
Seein' which one will clock the most 
Yeah this is the one no doubt 
Bust a you Bone, and let's clear these niggaz out 

Hey hey man, whats up nigga? 
Yo, well this Lench Mob nigga! 

Now clearin' 'em out meant casualties 
Still had the L.A. mentality 
Bust a cap, and out of there in a hurry 
Wouldn't you know, a driveby in Missouri 
Them fools got popped 
Took their corner next day, set up shop 
And it's better than slangin' in the Valley 
Triple the profit makin' more than I did in Cali 
Breakin' off rocks like Barney Rubble 
Cause them mark-ass niggas don't want trouble 
And we ain't on edge when we do work 
Police don't recognize the khakis and the sweatshirts 
Getting bitches and they can't stand a 
Nineteen-ninety-one Tony Montana 
Now the shit's like a war 
Of gang violence, where it was never seen before 
Punks whirl when the gat bust 
Four jheri curl niggas kickin' up dust 
And some of them are even lookin' up to us 
Wearing our colors and talkin' that gang fuss 
Giving up much love 
Dyin' for a street, that they ain't even heard of 
But other motherfuckers want to stand strong 
So you know the phrase, once again it's on 

Top of the news tonight, gangs from South Central 
Los Angeles which are known for their driveby shootings 
Have migrated into East St. Louis 
Leaving three dead and two others injured 
No arrests have been made 
Police say this is a nationwide trend 
With similar incidents occurring in Texas, Michigan, and Oklahoma 
"If it can happen here, it can happen anywhere") 

Boom, my homie got shot he's a goner black 
St. Louis niggas want they corner back 
Shooting in snowy weather 
It's illegal business, niggas still can't stick together 
Fuckin' police got the four-one-one 
That L.A. ain't all, surf and sun 
But we ain't thinkin', bout the boys 
Feudin', like the Hatfields and McCoys 
Now the shit's gettin' tricky 
Cause now they lookin' for the colors and the khakis 
Damn, the spot's gettin' hot from the battle 
About to pack up and start slangin' in Seattle 
But the NARC's, raid about six in the morning 
Try to catch a nigga while he's yawnin' 
Put his glock to my chest as I paused 
Went to jail in my motherfuckin' drawers 
Tryin' to give me, fifty-seven years 
Face'll be full of those tattooed tears 
It's the same old story and the same old nigga stuck 
And the public defender ain't givin' a fuck 
The fool must be sparkin' 
Talkin' about a double life plea bargain 
You got to deal with the Crips and Bloods by hand G 
Plus the Black Guerilla family 
And the white pride don't like Northside 
And it's a riot if any one of us die
No parole or probation 
Now this is a young man's summer vacation 
No chance for rehabilitation 
Cause look at the motherfuckin' years that I'm facin'
I'ma end it like this cause you know what's up 
My life is fucked

 

This song showed that these young black men had drive and initiative but it was misdirected and what the effects of drug dealing and influence they had on others in the mid-western city.

The next 2 songs are Giving up the Nappy Dug Out and Look Who’s Burning: Giving up the Nappy Dug Out was a song about teenage sex and low self-esteem of teenage girls. Look Who’s Burning was the perfect song to follow up giving up the nappy dug out it warned of the possible effects of having unprotected sex.

 

Nappy Dug Out:

Yeah
CUmm, uhh is Cheryl here?
Well who are you?
Tell her Ice Cube is here
WHO?!
Ice Cube!
ICE CUBE?! Man I ain't lettin my damn daughter go out with no damn Ice Cubes man! Man what the hell you talkin' about man? I brought my daughter up man in a Catholic school, private school. Man what you want with her? I'm sick of this bullshit!
Yo man, let me tell you somethin':

Your daughter was a nice girl, now she is a slut
A queen treatin' niggas just like King Tut
Gobblin up nuts, sorta like a hummingbird
Suckin up the Lench Mob crew, and I'm comin' third
Used to get straight A's, now she just skippin' class
Oh my, do I like to grip the hips and ass
Only seventeen, with a lot of practice
On black boys jimmies and white boys cactus
Sorry sorry sir, but I gotta be brief
A lotta niggas like bustin' nuts in her teeth
Drink it up, drink it up, even though she's Catholic
That don't mean shit, cause she's givin' up the ass quick
Quicker than you can say, "Candy,"
The bitch is on my Snicker... and oh man she
Can take on three men - built like He-Men
Her little-bitty twat got gallons of semen
Fourteen niggas in line ready to bang your
Pride-and-joy, I mean daddy's little angel
Tell the little bitch to bring her ass out the house
Cause your daughter's known, for givin' up the nappy dug out

I got a big old ding-a-ling, and if that bitch can hang
I'm gonna do my thing, with your dauuuughter!
Givin up the nappy dug out!
[x2]

Look motherfucker you better get from in front of my house with that old god damn bullshit, you girlie-ass motherfucker. You better get out of here witcho' fine ass. Man, youse a little fine motherfucker

Mister, mister, before you make me go
I'm here to let you know your little girl is a ho
Nympho, nympho, boy is she bad
Get her all alone and out comes the kneepads
I know she is a minor and it is illegal
But the bitch is worse than Vanessa Del Rio
And if you decide to call rape
We got the little hooker on tape, now:
Tell the fuckin' slut to please hurry up
And wear that dress that's tight on her butt
So I can finger-fuck on the way to the bed
Been in so many rooms, she got a dot on her forehead
Face turnin' red from grabbin' them ankles
Fuck and get up is how I do them stank-hoes
You should hear how she sounds with a cock in her
Boots get knocked, from here to Czechoslovakia
Two are on top, one on the bottom
First nigga got the boots; man, you shoulda shot him
Cause after I got 'em it was over
Now niggas get lucky like a four-leaf clover
On daddy's little girl
She keeps nuts in her mouth like the bitch was a squirrel
So tell Cheryl to bring her ass home
Cause the line at my house is gettin loooooooong, ay!

I got a big old ding-a-ling, and if that bitch can hang
I'm gonna do my thing, with your dauuuughter!
Givin up the nappy dug out!
[x2]

I got a big old ding-a-ling, and if that bitch can hang
I'm gonna do my thing, with your dauuuughter!
Yeah, yeah, bitch, bitch givin up the nappy dug out!
I got a big old ding-a-ling, and if that bitch can hang
I'm gonna do my thing, with your dauuuughter!
Yo

Little motherfucker!
Daddy, where did he go?
I'll tell you where he went, god damnit!
Mercy!

Givin up the nappy, givin up the nappy dug out" [x2]
Givin up the nappy dug out [x2]
Givin up the nappy, givin up the nappy dug out [x2]
Givin up the nappy dug out 
Givin-givin up the nappy dug out
Mercy!

Warning: when having sexual intercourse with a female like Cheryl
You must use, jimmy hat condoms

We're called jimmy hats, have you ever seen us?
Most guys wear us round rolled up on your penis
If you're real smart, you will always use us
Put me in your wallet, 'fore some dummy screws us
And goin bare back, without the bare facts
'll have creepy crawlers crawlin on your nutsac!
So get the JIMMY to the hats
It's me and two brothers in a pack

Run out and get your jimmy hats
Small, and extra large
Run out and get your jimmy hats

Or this might happen to you!

 

Look Who’s Burning:

I went to the free clinic, it was filled to capacity
Now how bad can a piece of ass be?
Very bad, so I had to make the trip
And thank God, I didn't have the drips
I was there so a hoe couldn't gimme that
Just to get, twenty free jimmy hats
Now look who I see
Ain't that, yeah, that's the bitch from up the street!
With the big fat tail
Who always told Cube to go to hell
She thought she was wiser
Now she's sittin in the waitin room, burnin like heat-mizer
Yeah I see ya
First Miss Thang, now Miss Gonorrhea
Man it's a trip how the world keeps turnin
It's 1991, and look who's burnin

"Does it get you hot?" 
"It's got me hot!"
"This is a girl playin hard to get"
"Burnin up, burnin!"
"What have I, done stuck my duck in?"
"Does it get you hot?" 
"It's got me hot!"
"This is a girl playin hard to get"
"Burnin up, burnin!"
"What have I, done stuck my duck in?"

Now everybody is a victim, you can go see 'em
And you'll hear more claps than the Coliseum
Sittin there all quiet and embarrassed
Whup, there go that bitch who was careless
I remember, she wouldn't give the cock
To anybody who lived on the block
Now hoe, look what you got
Bend that big ass over for the shot
Cause somebody is pipin hot
Drippin like a faucet, I'm glad I didn't toss it
Got you a college boy, who was worse than me
And he probably fucked the whole university
Still wanted him to dick you down, kick you down
With some bucks, now who got fucked?
With a nigga for the money he's earnin
But ask for some water bitch, and look who's burnin

"Does it get you hot?" 
"Can you get that?"
"This is a girl playin hard to get" 
"Burnin up, burnin!"
"Why is my thing-thing burnin like this?"
"Does it get you hot?" 
"Can you get that?"
"This is a girl playin hard to get" 
"Burnin up, burnin!"
"Why is my thing-thing burnin like this?"

Yo, it ain't my fault you got the heebie-jibbies
But you still try to act like you didn't see me
So I walk over, and say "Hi
Bitch, don't try to act surprised!"
You shoulda put a sock on the pickle
And your pussy wouldn't be blowin smoke signals
Man, this is gonna kill 'em
Guess who got a big fat dose of penicillin?
They'll ask, "Who?", and I tell 'em you
The new leader of the big booty crew
And after the day, I'm sorry to say
You come through the neighborhood, you couldn't give it away
To a nigga, who's out to get major paid
But you'll have him, pissin out razorblades
But a bitch like you'll be returnin with the H-I-V, R.I.P.

"You can't trust a big butt and a smile" 
"I'm burning up!"
"You can't trust a big butt and a smile" 
"You can't trust a big butt and a smile" 
"I'm burning up!"
"What have I, done stuck my duck in?"
"You can't trust a big butt and a smile" 
"I'm burning up!"
"You can't trust a big butt and a smile" 
"You can't trust a big butt and a smile" 
"I'm burning up!"
"What have I, done stuck my duck in?"

"Done stuck my duck in?"
"I'm burning up!"
"It's hot, I'm burning up!"

 

A Bird in the Hand spoke on how graduating from high school and having nothing but a diploma did very little to find employment to provide for yourself which pushed many to drug dealing.

 

A Bird in the Hand:

Fresh out of school cause I was a high school grad
Gots to get a job 'cause I was a high school dad
Wish I got paid like I was rappin' to the nation
But that's not likely so here's my application
Pass it to the man at AT&T
'Cause when I was in school I got the A-E-E
But there's no S-E for this youngsta
I didn't have no money so now I have to punch the 
Clock like a slave, that's what be happenin'
But whitey says there's no room for the African
Always knew that I would clock G's
But welcome to McDonald's can I take your order please
Gotta sell ya food that might give you cancer
'Cause my son doesn't take no for an answer
Now I pay taxes that you never give me back
What about diapers, bottles, and similac
Do I gotta go sell me a whole lotta crack
For decent shelter and clothes on my back?
Or should I just wait for help from Bush
Or Jesse Jackson, and operation Push
If you ask me the whole thing needs a douche
A masengel what the hell cracker sell in the neighborhood
To the corner house bitches
Miss porker, little Joe or Todd Bridges
Or anybody that he know
So I got me a bird, better known as a kilo
Now everybody know I went from po' to a nigga that got dough
So now you put the feds against me
'Cause I couldn't follow the plan of the presidency
I'm never givin' love again
But blacks are too fuckin' broke to be republican
Now I remember I used to be cool
Till I stopped fillin' out my W-2
Now senators are gettin' high
And your plan against the ghetto backfired
So now you got a pep talk
But sorry, this is our only room to walk
'Cause we don't want to drug push
But a bird in the hand is worth more than the bush

Tell the politicians, the hustlers, live and let live (yeah)
Tell the politicians, the hustlers, live and let live (yeah)

Alive on Arrival which was one of my favorite songs off of the album tells the story of a man shot and having to deal with the intolerable conditions of county hospitals.

 

Alive on Arrival:

Down at the best spot

Its me and J-Dee and they sellin' more birds than a pet shop

The spot's hot, and everybody nervous

That's when the blue car surfaced

Oh why did fools have to let loose?

Heard six pops from a deuce-deuce

Big Tom had to push us

13 niggas runnin' straight to the bushes

For they gats so they can draw down

But why a motherfucker like me have to fall down?

Not knowin' why I dropped out

Fuck it, still can't afford to get popped out

So now I gotta jet

Only ran one block, but my shirt is soakin' wet

Tryna see if we got 'em

Looked down and my sweatshirt's red at the bottom

Didn't panic but I still looked cracked out

Yelled to the homies then I blacked out

 

[Interlude 1: Homies]

Get up, man! Get up, man! (C'mon keep that nigga awake, man!)

C'mon, man! Get up man, c'mon man!

 

[Verse 2]

Woke up in the back of a trey

On my way to MLK

That's the county hospital, jack, ha

Where niggas die over a little scratch

Sittin' in the trauma center

In my back is where the bullet entered

"Yo, nurse, I'm gettin' kinda warm!"

Bitch still made me fill out the fuckin' form

Coughin' up blood on my hands and knees

Then I heard, "Freeze, nigga! Don't move!"

Yo, I didn't do a thing

Don't wanna go out like my man Rodney King

Still got gaffled

Internal bleeding as the bullet starts to travel

Now I'm handcuffed

Being asked information on my gang affiliation

"I don't bang, I rock the good rhymes

And I'm a victim of neighborhood crime."

 

[Interlude 2: Police Officers]

Are you the only one who got shot? What kinda gun was he carrying? Do you know who it was? (No, man, don't know who it was, man) Are you in a gang? (Man, what does it matter, man? I'm shot)

 

[Verse 3]

I need to see a MD

And y'all motherfuckers giving me the third degree?

Look at the waiting room

It's filled to the rim like the county jail day room

Nobody gettin' help

Since we poor, the hospital it moves slow

Now I'm laid out

People steppin' over me to get closer to the TV

Just like a piece of dog shit

Now will I die on this nappy ass carpet?

One hour done passed

Done watched two episodes of M*A*S*H

And when I'm almost through

They call my name and put me in ICU

Halfway dead

No respect, and handcuffed to the bed

Now the drama starts

Cause the bullet must be just a hair from my heart

Then I begin the ass kissin'

Just to get looked at, by a overworked physician

Had the chills, but my temperature's a hundred and three

Only got a band-aid and a IV

That's when I start cussin'

Police steady askin' me who did the bustin'

 

[Interlude 3: Police Officers]

What did you get shot with? (Twenty-two!)

Who shot you? (I dunno who shot me)

Was it gang-bangers? (Had to be)

 

[Verse 4]

Why, oh why, can't I get help?

Cause I'm black, I gots to go for self

Too many black bodies the hospital housin'

So at 10 p.m, I was Audi 5000

 

The song to end the Death side was fittingly titled Death which was performed by the Honorable Dr. Khalid Muhammed.

 

Death:

Let me live my life!

We can no longer LIVE OUR LIVES...

Then let us... GIVE OUR LIVES for the liberation...

And salvation of the Black Nation

Saints, saviors, soldiers, scholars... healers and killers

No longer dead, deaf, dumb and blind out of our mind!

BRAIN-WASHED with the white men's mind

NO MORE HOMICIDE!

NO MORE FRATRICIDE!

NO MORE SUICIDE, INFANTCIDE AND... GENOCIDE!

Look that goddamn white man in his COLD... blue-eyes

Devil don't even TRY... We Bebe's Kids!

We DON'T die... we... MULTIPLY!

You heard the Death Side

Open your black eyes for the REBIRTH...

Resurrection... and rise!

 

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