The Ugly Details Of Ice Cube & Common’s Beef Show Just How Far They’ve Come

Last week, Ice Cube and Common released “Real People.” The Barbershop: The Next Cut soundtrack inclusion may be promotional for the film both MC/actors star in, but the lyrics and theme of the song suggest much more. The collaboration follows a mid-1990s beef that saw both parties release dis’ records at one another. This was before Minister Louis Farrakhan created a gathering for Cube, Comm’, and others at the Nation Of Islam headquarters in Chicago.

An article at Medium’s Cuepoint delves deep into the Cube and Common beef, and sheds some interesting and new light on the conflict, which apparently grew to include Pete Rock, Mack 10, and others.

Common’s 1994 hit “I Used To Love H.E.R.,” one of his most beloved songs to this day, is what set it off. The Resurrection single seemingly referenced “Boyz-N-The-Hood,” an Eazy-E song written by Cube, and questioned some of the qualities associated with West Coast Hip-Hop.

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Dug Infinite, a fellow Relativity Records artist who would produce elements of One Day It’ll All Make Sense, says the Chicago, Illinois MC never intended to prod his peers. “Honestly I don’t think Common ever intended that as a dis’, more it was Common just trying to actively tell his version of the history of what happened to Hip-Hop.” Elsewhere, Common has stated that he even opened up for Cube and N.W.A. in the 1980s, and was a fan.

Common would echo that point in his memoir, One Day It’ll All Make Sense. “I guess Ice Cube heard my song different.” Notably, at the time Comm’ Sense learned of Cube’s retort, “Westside Slaughterhouse” on Mack 10’s self-titled debut, he was with four West Coast artists, one of whom grew up with Cube. “I was in New York, hanging out backstage at an Alkaholiks show, when King T said, ‘Yo, Comm’, you heard that Cube verse? He’s talking about you. It ain’t really that bad, though.’ The way he was saying ‘It ain’t really that bad,’ I knew that it had to be precisely that bad.” In fact, the multi-platinum MC and burgeoning actor spit lines like, “Used to love her, mad cause we fucked her / Pussy whipped bitch, with no common sense” towards an artist with only two comparatively lower profile albums.

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Despite Cube’s reputation for scathing, high-profile beefs with N.W.A. at the top of the decade in “No Vaseline,” Common accepted the challenge. In a weird turn of events, this is how Pete Rock entered the equation. The producer half of Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth was not an artist Common had worked with before, or somebody commonly associated with controversial songs. Still, as Common’s producer No I.D. (now Executive Vice President and Head of Creative at Def Jam) reportedly distanced himself, Pete was down to get in the proverbial crossfire.

“I remember getting a phone call from [Common] saying how upset he was about getting disrespected by Ice Cube. I told him, ‘If you need my help, I’m here,’” Pete Rock told Complex in 2011, as quoted by Medium. “I made that beat at a friend’s house with records that I had given him so he could make beats, because he made beats too. I left them over there, [so I used the records] and came up with the track. I couldn’t believe that [Common] would like it.” Common, who was with Pete at the session, did like it. He used the track and it became 1996’s “Bitch In Yoo.”

The article debunks a myth that Common also took shots at label-mate Fat Joe in a demo version of the song, before Pete Rock later admits that his role in the record apparently affected his relationship with Cube. Moreover, the piece recalls that Comm’ performed the white-label 12″ single, including at a festival event with Ice Cube also on the bill. The record called out Cube’s point about Hip-Hop originating in the West, especially as he sampled Grandmaster Flash & The Furious 5’s “The Message” alongside Das EFX on 1993 hit “Check Yo Self.” The now Oscar Award-winner rapped, “Hypocrite, I’m filling out your death certificate / Slinging bean pies and St Ide’s in the same sentence.”

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By 1997, Minister Farrakhan intervened, and hosted a Peace Summit, that would also included figures in Hip-Hop beefs such as Tha Dogg Pound, Fat Joe, Snoop Dogg, and Bone-Thugs-N-Harmony, as detailed by an N.O.I. member and Rap artist who were present. However, the Peace Summit did not bring a complete end to the conflict between Cube and Common’s camps. That same year, Sprite launched a “Voltron” campaign with a commercial involving Common, Goodie Mob, Fat Joe, and Cube’s then bandmate in Westside Connection, Mack 10.

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As confirmed by Common, somebody in his camp instigated a stare-down with the Inglewood, California MC that escalated. “Mack 10 said ‘You’ll lose, here,” recalls Dug Infinite. “Like, ‘Maybe in Chicago you can do that.’ Mack 10’s bodyguard stepped up and the guy from Chicago called him ‘Wack 10’ and there was some pushing and shoving.” As the legend has it, a Mack 10 associate went to a car and returned with a gun. Fat Joe intervened and squashed the moment. Notably, two years later, Joe would work extensively with Mack 10 and his Hoo-Bangin’ Records on the film, Blood Is Thicker Than Water. The work also starred Cube, MC Eiht, Big Pun, and WC.

Dug Infinite recalls that despite the attempts to quell the situation by the Terror Squad, there was another incident that day. “The guy from Chicago got kicked out of that Sprite commercial shoot and went outside and did some damage to Mack 10’s car,” he says, adding that another fight ensued, including one of Mack’s associates looking for the responsible party while armed.

In truly what history may consider the last straw in the 1990s Common vs. Ice Cube beef, the Chi City MC was forced to pay for the damages to Mack 10’s automobile. “That had to come out of Common’s budget,” Dug confirms—likely referring to Common’s ’97 One Day… third LP.

Notably, both Common and Cube would have public conflicts after those with one another. On the debut Westside Connection LP, Cube (joined by Mack and WC) took on former collaborators Cypress Hill, on “King Of The Hill.” That beef has since ended. In the early 2010s, Common and Drake became involved in a surprising beef that also involved Comm’ bangin’ on wax with “Sweet” and Drizzy’s retaliation of “Stay Schemin’.” That conflict also has been moved to past tense.

From point-blank disses to pushing and shoving, loaded guns, and one vandalized car, there was more to Cube and Common’s battle than may have met the eye or the ears. While one or both sides of so many Rap feuds often cannot move past their ill feelings, today, these two foes-turned-friends can stand together and reflect on the “wickedness” as “Real People.”

Read: The Bitch in You: Revisiting Ice Cube and Common’s Vicious 90s Rap Battle by Mike Pizzo at Cuepoint.

Related: Common & Ice Cube Demonstrate How “Real People” Move Past Beef (Audio)