"WHEN WILL THEY SHOOT?"
We'll jump off j3's Illest 33 Songs in the History of Hip Hop with one of the finest Cube tracks ever recorded. The fury and fervor on this track made Cube one of my favorite emcees ever. On what will go down as one of Cube's most popular offering with the help of a radio-ready ghetto-anthemic "It was a Good Day" and the Muggs-produced "Wicked," The Predator, for those who didn't jump straight to "Good Day" starts with a haunting scene from American Me where an individual is strip-searched in prison before launching straight into "When Will They Shoot." Cube's first line: an explosive, "G***amn, another ***king payback with a twist!" Stirred, maddened, hardened by the Rodney King verdict which turned into Los Angeles into a furnace (like Cube needs another reason to be upset), Cube comes with some of the most seething and furious words ever delivered dating back to Amerikkka's. Borrowing a not-so-disguised sampling of Queen's "We Will Rock You," producer Bobcat Elvin (who, most notably, produced LL's "Mama Said Knock You Out") laid the track that Cube would use to take shots at LAPD's then-Chief of Police, Daryll Gates, NWA, the KKK and then just roundhousing America into submission ("Uncle Sam is just Hitler without an oven, burning our black skin, buy a neighborhood, then push the crack in").
"Blacker than a trillion midnights," Cube's three verses are more a reckless melee than the poised delivery of the past. He quickly shifts his targets from one line to the next. His delivery is much like a young welterweight coming out of the corner throwing everything he has, swinging at the head in front of him as hard as he can to do one thing: draw as much blood as possible. Fitting that this would be the first track on the record. Start it off with a bang. In retrospect, "Good Day," in the context of the record, is almost a much-needed break between Cube assaults. Predator, as an album, is a vicious and relentless attack all embodied in "Shoot?"
It's construction is so heavy, it's lyrical content so brutal and scathing that, when it's complete, it feels like a ten-minute flogging. Surprising that it times in just over four and a half minutes. You know when you hear some gangbanger reflect on getting jumped-in, they say they "thought it would never end," or "it felt like fifteen minutes," that's "When Will They Shoot?"