Leave it to the internet to obssess — at length — over one of hip-hop’s more obscure mysteries.
The story begins back in February 1993, when Ice Cube released “It Was A Good Day” on this third solo album The Predator. The song became an instant classic, recounting the rapper’s journey through a day where everything seems to be going his way.
Here the video, which contains explicit language:
Almost two decades later, comedian Donovan Strain combed through the lyrics and found a variety of clues that he claimed allowed him to pinpoint the exact date the events in the song took place: January 20, 1992.
The analysis narrowed down potential dates based on several lyrical indicators, including the broadcast schedule of the television program MTV Raps, the L.A. Lakers' defeat of the Seattle SuperSonics and the commercial availability of cellular pagers (one line starts, “Got a beep from Kim").
Strain's discovery was lauded online — but competing theories soon emerged.
Tumblr user Mike B. challenged Strain’s contention that pager use in Southern California only began in the 1990s, arguing that while they weren't widespread, they did exist earlier (he pointed out a verse in 1988’s “F**k Tha Police” where Ice Cube describes himself as a “teenager with a little bit of gold and a pager.”)
Mike B. suggested the song may have actually described events on November 30, 1988, noting that a woman referenced as merely a romantic prospect in “It Was A Good Day” (“Kim,” possibly Ice Cube’s current-day wife and then-girlfriend Kimberly Woodruff) would already have been in a long-term relationship with the rapper on the day initially identified by Strain.
Alas, Ice Cube finally threw cold water on all the theories in a 2012 interview with Moviefone: “It’s a fictional song. It’s basically my interpretation of what a great day would be.... So, you know, it's a little of this and a little of that. I don't think you can pinpoint the day.”
Despite the admission, the mythology of Ice Cube’s song may have already eclipsed the reality. This year, a charity project in Los Angeles is raising money by enlisting the Goodyear blimp to realize one of the song’s more improbable recollections: "Even saw the lights of the Goodyear Blimp/And it read, 'Ice Cube's a pimp.'" Here's their pitch:
George spoke with Ice Cube back in 2011 about his career, and about how hip-hop has changed since he was topping the charts. Here's their conversation: