Ice Cube – It was a good day

Gangsta-rap songwriting

Ice Cube – It was a good day – Lyrics

Verse 1

Just waking up in the morning gotta thank God
I don’t know but today seems kinda odd
No barking from the dog, no smog
And momma cooked a breakfast with no hog
I got my grub on, but didn’t pig out
Finally got a call from a girl I want to dig out
Hooked it up on later as I hit the do’
Thinking will I live another twenty fo’
I gotta go cause I got me a drop top
And if I hit the switch, I can make the ass drop
Had to stop at a red light
Looking in my mirror not a jacker in sight
And everything is alright
I got a beep from Kim and she can fuck all night
Called up the homies and I’m askin’ y’all
Which park, are y’all playin’ basketball?
Get me on the court and I’m trouble
Last week fucked around and got a triple double
Freaking brothers every way like M.J.
I can’t believe, today was a good day

Verse 2

Drove to the pad and hit the showers
Didn’t even get no static from the cowards
Cause just yesterday them fools tried to blast me
Saw the police and they rolled right past me
No flexin’, didn’t even look in a brothers direction as I ran the intersection
Went to $hort Dog’s house, they was watchin’ Yo! MTV Raps
What’s the haps on the craps
Shake ‘em up, shake ‘em up, shake ‘em up, shake ‘em
Roll ‘em in a circle of niggaz and watch me break ‘em
With the seven, seven-eleven, seven-eleven
Seven even back do’ little Joe
I picked up the cash flow
Then we played bones, and I’m yellin’ domino
Plus nobody I know got killed in South Central L.A.
Today was a good day

Verse 3

Left my homies house paid
Picked up a girl been tryin’ to fuck since the twelfth grade
It’s ironic, I had the brew she had the chronic
The Lakers beat the Supersonics
I felt on the big fat fanny
Pulled out the jammy, and killed the punanny
And my Jimmy runs deep so deep so deep put her butt to sleep
Woke her up around one
She didn’t hesitate, to call Ice Cube the top gun
Drove her to the pad and I’m coasting
Took another sip of the potion hit the three-wheel motion
I was glad everything had worked out
Dropped her butt off, then I chirped out
Today was like one of those fly dreams
Didn’t even see a berry flashing those high beams
No helicopter looking for a murder
Two in the morning got the fat burger
Even saw the lights of the Goodyear Blimp
And it read Ice Cube’s a pimp (yeah)
Drunk as hell but no throwing up
Half way home and my pager still blowing up
Today I didn’t even have to use my A.K.
I got to say it was a good day

Ice Cube – It was a good day – Lyrics analysis


Verse 1

Just waking up in the morning gotta thank God

This first line expresses two feelings: the gratitude of being alive, and the faith in God. The audience who hears this tends to empathize directly with the speaker, because these feelings are beautiful to live and to see. So we start on a positive note and not on the usual “I’mma shoot you nigga “.

Yet… this faith in God seems acceptable, but at the time, Ice Cube had just converted to Islam, which means this thanks goes to Allah, who is not the most appreciated God among Americans, on average… Islam is a protest faith, the one of rebels like the Black Panthers and the Nation of Islam. The meaning of the line therefore changes, depending on whether the audience knows that Ice Cube is talking about Allah, or that they ignore it. If they know it, they know it’s funny that others believe that Ice Cube is talking about the Catholic God.

As we will see, the song will be narrative, and consist of a tale of a common day gangster, from sunrise to the night. We thus attend from the first line the beginning of this little story.

It is rare that a rap song is narrative, really rare. Most of the time, rap lyrics are a montage of insults, assaults to the audienceslogans, punchlines, short scenes, but almost never a whole story. This song distinguishes itself by its ambitious choice to participate in the American narrative culture without being limited to a primitive style of writing coming out of the illiterate ghetto. However, this song does not betray its culture by this choice, since it keeps the gangster as a theme and main characterHero. It popularizes this figure with means known to the mainstream audience, because narrative songs, including ballads – as we will see it is one – are widespread in other genres, including rock and pop.

I don’t know but today seems kinda odd

By showing his concern that something is odd, is not as usual, this verse generates a suspense: we want to know what’s wrong, what’s not normal, and for that we need events to test, clues to investigate. He will provide them in the next lines!

No barking from the dog, no smog

Then what? This keeps the suspense alive, it feeds a list of things that make this day odd, and starts to develop a parallel description of this gangster’s day.

Those clues have a positive meaning… which hides some negativity :

  • if the dog does not bark, it means that there were no intruders today, no thieves, no attackers, no VRPs, no Jehovah’s Witnesses, no jerk! – which assumes that they usually all come and make the dog bark…
  • if there is no smog – pollution-laden fog – then we can breathe healthy air – that assumes that we usually suffocate in this smog…

And momma cooked a breakfast with no hog


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Gangsta-rap songwriting
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