Make It Rough

Oh, for the halcyon days of our distant past when injustice was met with mere riots and destruction, which was only limited to parts of cities…mere “neighborhoods”, rather than global thermonuclear war.  It was troubling to watch ‘those people’ rioting in their own community, whether you were comfortably across the country, or comfortably in your glass walled mansion in Pacific Palisades.  You may have been able to see or smell smoke in your exclusive community, but you probably still watched the news footage from your own designer couch.  

Ice Cube had the better part of a nation tut tutting about his violent lyrics as he expounded on his views of the Rodney King arrest, the outcome of the trial, and the general treatment of a specific group of people in a particular community.  I wont minimize Cube’s lyrics.  He wouldn’t either.  He starts his rhythmic rant with the words, “make it rough…”. I encourage you to listen to them yourselves.  

Cube makes a coherent case for social violence.  I self-edited the word good re: the case, because “good” gives a confused meaning.  I wont morally endorse what he said, and I sense that Ice Cube doesn’t seek anyone’s absolution.  Now that that is out of the way, we can address the structure, content, and meaning in his call for destruction.  ( In complete fairness, his words were written after the destruction, but the implication re: social justice remains  extant). 

Let’s look at the blueprint.  The first verse begins with,“Not guilty!  The filthy devils tried to kill me.”   Ice Cube cites two grievances here.  The first refers to the verdict(s) regarding the officers tried for the beating of Rodney King.  “When the news gets to the hood, n***** will be hotter than cayenne pepper…”. That is fairly easy to understand there.  No translation is necessary, right?  “Kickin’ up dust is a must…”. This is an interesting line.  It isn’t just a simple rhyme. The writer is actually taking an ethical leap here by claiming that riot and disorder has become a moral imperative.  Again, I am not endorsing this view.  I disagree with it.  I am just pointing it out, as I am the entire song, so that it can be seen how this idea grows.  I think it is safe to say that this is a case being made for violence.  

Verses 2 is generally about listing specific individuals and violent fantasies about how this new moral imperative will deal with them.  It doesn’t contribute much meaning to list it specifically here, you get the gist.  

Verse 3 does have some interesting devices in this dark fantasy apologia.  Those who riot in their own neighborhoods are often criticized for…destroying their own neighborhoods.  They suffer, so they are ignited into an activity that brings further suffering to their neighborhood.  The ill-logic is right there on the surface.  One interesting line in this verse reflects that.  “Now I’m stealing blunts, and a cake from Better Crocker.  Orville Reddenbacher.  Don’t fuck with the Black owned stores, but hit the footlocker…”. This is dark, and sad, in the ways that it invokes a racist motivation, as well as an economic strategy.  It’s sad like dark, sad movie, but still fascinating.  The 3rd verse ends with, “we had to tear this motherfucker up, so what the fuck…”. It is followed by a line that alludes to a “guerrilla” who was killed by the cops after having killed some.  

He has taken a step completely outside of civilization here with destruction, and then with death.  It is about as dark as it gets.

If you want to get darker, contemplating destruction of where you live…consider armageddon.