Ice Cube Recalls N.W.A. Getting Booed At The Apollo. It Was Not A Good Day (Video)
N.W.A may have become one of the biggest, most influential and celebrated Rap groups ever, but they had to pay dues first. Ice Cube recently sat down with Pigeons & Planes to share a less flattering moment in the group’s history, the time the Ruthless Records act got booed off stage at the Apollo Theater in New York City.
Apparently, before the release of their breakout album Straight Outta Compton, N.W.A. had been asked to rock a big Hip-Hop showcase at the famed Harlem theater. Featuring some of the day’s top East Coast acts, like EPMD, Run-D.M.C. and Big Daddy Kane, N.W.A was the only West Coast group on the bill, as recalled by Cube. Furthermore, the group “wasn’t hot yet,” as he put it, a recipe for disaster. “We all had watched Showtime At The Apollo, so we all knew if it went bad what was gon’ happen,” Cube explained, referring to the venue’s storied heckling and jeering. “We hit the stage, and as soon as they saw the Jheri curls, all you heard was ‘boo!’ I mean, before we even got a line out, they was booin’…I guess they just wasn’t feeling the Jheri curls,” he added. “Kurtis Blow had one. Why the f*ck couldn’t we?”
Although the crowd didn’t exactly give them a chance, the group was received far more amicably by their peers. Cube accounted meeting Run in an elevator during that same trip to New York, who was impressed by an Eazy-E song (presumably his early classic “Boyz-n-the-Hood” single), supposedly telling the Compton MC, “Man, that song is hot.” To the group, he assured, “They don’t know nothin’ about y’all, right now, but that song is hot. Y’all about to blow up.”
Cube would, of course, go on to leave the group and eventually return to the Apollo to perform his seminal solo debut, AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted, produced largely by legendary East Coast production team, The Bomb Squad. His second Apollo appearance garnered a much different reception: “Man, them people rushed the door. They was throwin’ money. They was just hype,” he claimed. “It just had me on cloud 20 because all I had in my mind was that memory of being booed at the Apollo. You don’t get that out your mind.”