It's hard to believe, but Ice Cube's debut solo record AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted came out 30 years ago. To honor the occasion, the rapper/actor hosted a live event on social media where he spoke about the album and its creation. One story he brought up was the time Fred Rogers sued him for using his iconic theme song from Mister Rogers' Neighborhood in the album track "A Gangsta's Fairytale." Ice Cube doesn't seem too bummed out about the situation all of these years later.
When thinking back on "A Gangsta's Fairytale," Ice Cube remembered the inspiration behind the song. "I actually wrote this for Eazy-E. But y'all know what it is, we weren't getting down at the time so I had to take it myself," Ice Cube said. "It's a trip. Because of this song, Mr. Rogers sued us." The rapper went on to discuss the lawsuit and had this to say.
"He was mad 'cause we had the Mister Rogers theme at the beginning of this sh*t, 'It's a wonderful day in the neighborhood' and all that. [He] sued us and was getting like five cents a record 'til we took that part off. That's just a fun fact."
Ice Cube released AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted in 1990 after he bailed from N.W.A., which is shown in Straight Outta Compton. This isn't the first time that the rapper has discussed the lawsuit with Fred Rogers. He brought it up in Brian Coleman's excellent 2017 book Check The Technique Vol. 2. You can read what he had to say about it back then below.
"We had that 'It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood' thing in the beginning of the original. Did Mister Rogers sue us? Damn. Actually, yeah, I remember. He told us we couldn't use it, we took the song off the album, and he sued us anyways. I think they made us give him damages because we mention his name one time."
Fred Rogers didn't seem like a guy that was into West Coast gangsta rap when he was around, but stranger things have happened. Like a lot of Ice Cube's raps back in the day, AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted is focused on social injustice and what life was like living in South Central Los Angeles in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The album is still considered to be one of the defining moments in hip hop.
AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted went on to sell over 3.1 million records worldwide without the release of a video or a single, which is pretty crazy to think about now. It went on to influence Tupac Shakur, Ras Kass, and Xzibit on the West Coast, along with East Coast rappers Nas, The Notorious B.I.G., and more recently, Saigon, JPEGMafia, and Southern rapper Young Jeezy. You can check out Ice Cube's Instagram story for the info on the album, or check out the Mr. Rogers part below.