Ice Cube

Ice Cube helped pioneer the gangster rap movement as both a solo artist and a member of seminal hip-hop crew N.W.A. before forging a successful Hollywood career thanks to franchise-spawning hits such as "Friday" (1995), "Barbershop" (2002) and "Ride Along" (2014). Born O'Shea Jackson in the South Central Los Angeles area of Baldwin Hills in 1969, Ice Cube developed a passion for hip-hop at high school where he adopted a stage name inspired by a threat issued by his older brother. After studying architectural drafting at the Phoenix Institute of Technology, Cube resumed his musical ambitions, forming The C.I.A. with Sir Jinx and collaborating with Dr. Dre on side project Stereo Crew. Dre was so impressed with Cube's talents that he was invited to join MC Ren, DJ Yella, Eazy-E and himself in the line-up of N.W.A., the controversial Compton-based crew credited with popularizing the sound of gangster rap. Cube reportedly wrote half of their seminal 1988 sophomore Straight Outta Compton but just a year later left the group following a contract dispute with manager Jerry Heller. Cube proved to be just as uncompromising on AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted, the 1990 solo debut which drew accusations of racism and misogyny. 1991 sophomore Death Certificate continued to court controversy in the same way before Cube showcased his acting talents for the first time as Crip gang member Doughboy in John Singleton's ground-breaking "Boyz n the Hood" (1991). Spawning his first Top 20 single, "It Was a Good Day," 1992's The Predator topped the Billboard 200 on its way to domestic sales of three million. And after joining fellow gangster rapper Ice T in neo-noir "Trespass" (1992), Cube embraced the burgeoning G-funk scene on 1993's Lethal Injection. Over the next five years, Cube put his solo career on hold, teaming up with WC and Mack 10 to form Westside Connection, guiding the careers of Da Lench Mob and Mr. Short Khop and contributing to tracks by Tupac, Del the Funky Homosapien and Kan. He also further established his acting credentials, appearing as a crime suspect in "The Glass Shield" (1994), reuniting with Singleton to play an Afrocentric student in "Higher Learning" (1995) and impressively writing, producing and starring alongside Chris Tucker in stoner classic "Friday" (1995). After starring as a South African exile in thriller "Dangerous Ground" (1997) and cameraman in creature feature "Anaconda" (1997), Cube added director to his list of talents with the dark comedy "The Players Club" (1998). That same year he returned to the music fold with fifth studio effort War & Peace Vol 1. (The War Disc), with a second volume featuring ex-bandmates Dr. Dre and MC Ren arriving in 2000. By this point, Cube had also added co-starred with George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg in Gulf war drama "Three Kings" (1999), joined various other rappers in gang rivalry tale "Thicker than Water" (1999) and reprised his role of Craig Jones in sequel "Next Friday" (2000). Cube once again took a lengthy solo hiatus to concentrate on Hollywood, playing a prisoner in John Carpenter's sci-fi horror "Ghosts of Mars" (2001), sharing top billing with Mike Epps in bounty hunter comedy "All About the Benjamins" (2002) and starring as salon owner Calvin Palmer in "Barbershop" (2002), a role he would reprise for its 2004 and 2016 sequels. After showing up as rival biker gang leader Trey in "Torque" (2004), Cube took over from Vin Diesel as the leading man in sequel "XXX: State of the Union" (2005) and made a surprising detour into family-friendly territory with the part of reluctant babysitter Nick Parsons in "Are We There Yet" (2005). In 2006, Cube dropped his seventh solo LP, Laugh Now, Cry Later, following it up two years later with Raw Footage. But he continued to rack up the film credits, too, appearing alongside Tracy Morgan in petty crime comedy "First Sunday" (2008), starring as an amateur baseball coach in Fred Durst's sports dramedy "The Longshots" (2008) and joining forces with Epps once more in "The Janky Promoters" (2009). In 2010, Cube added I Am the West to his discography, explored his passion for both gangster rap and the Oakland Raiders for the "30 for 30" (ESPN, 2009-) documentary series, played a reclusive former boxer in "The Lottery Ticket" (2010) and produced and co-starred in "Are We There Yet?" (TBS, 2010-13), a small screen spin-off from his hit same-named movie. After playing an investigator in corrupt cop drama "Rampart" (2011), Cube bagged the role of foul-mouthed police captain Dickson in "21 Jump Street" (2012), shared the screen with Kevin Hart in another franchise-spinning comedy "Ride Along" (2014) and voiced The Candle Maker in hit animation "The Book of Life" (2014). Cube then served as producer on "Straight Outta Compton" (2015), the N.W.A. biopic in which he was portrayed by his own son O'Shea Jackson Jr, before starring as a warring teacher in broad comedy "Fist Fight" (2017) and releasing his long-awaited 2018 tenth album, Everythang's Corrupt. Cube then joined the cast of Los Angeles music drama "Covers" (2020) and returned with a fourth installment of his stoner comedy series, "Last Friday" (2020).