The creation of "Boyz-n-the-Hood" is one of those butterfly effect-esque moments in Hip-Hop history.
The song, famously penned by Ice Cube for "hire," was intended to be given to Home Boys Only, a New York City rap group, who were signed to Ruthless Records.
They infamously rejected the record, and in turn, the song ended up becoming the launching pad for both Eazy-E — known at the time as simply "Eric" — and his N.W.A. cohorts.
While it's never been a mystery as to the origins of the song, it's also never been wholly clear if Ice Cube ever thought about taking the record for himself.
After recently being inducted in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, I posed the question with basketball as the centerpiece for the metaphor: Did he always know that he was going to pass off the song to someone else, or, did he ever think about shooting his shot?
"I wrote it as a song for hire," he says. "So once I wrote it and gave it to Eazy-E... he wasn't even named 'Eazy-E,' at the time. It was just Eric. Once I gave it to him, I felt like it wasn't mine no more. Plus, I was part of a group. I was part of a group called Stereo Crew, which later got changed to C.I.A. And so I felt like I was part of a group, just a solo song. I wouldn't be able to do it anyway unless Dre had decided to make it a group song.
I probed a bit deeper: "But in your mind, to bring it back to the basketball analogy, did you think that you were dishing off a little bounce pass, or did you think you were throwing the lob to the rim and it was going to be a smash hit?"
"Well, I wasn't sure how HBO was going to approach it," he says. "Remember it was written for that group. I didn't know if one person was going to sing it. I just didn't know how Dre was going to produce it with the group. Eazy-E just told me to write it. He told me to, 'write one of them songs like you do in the mixtapes,' because me and Dre was doing mixtapes, which we could talk about anything 'cause we wasn't trying to get on the radio. So those was basically talking about the neighborhood that I came up in. So he wanted a song like that for his new group. So that's what I wrote, and they didn't like it. I'm glad they didn't like the shit. I'm glad they didn't like it. I'm glad Eazy-E took it. I'm glad everything happened the way it did."
Ice Cube confirms he has a new album in the works called Man Down. When I probe about any hints about the possible producers he is working with he smiles, saying, "Good ones."