In 1988, gangsta rap pioneers N.W.A. released their groundbreaking studio debut, Straight Outta Compton. Its often graphic depiction of crime and violence led to N.W.A. being deemed the ‘World’s Most Dangerous Group’ by major media outlets among the rash of controversy that stemmed from the album’s success. Few would have believed that a quarter of a century later, the same Ice Cube that suggested ‘punk police are afraid of me’ would make an appearance with beloved puppet Elmo on Sesame Street.
However, that’s exactly what has happened. A video posted to the official Sesame Street channel on YouTube sees Ice Cube discussing the word ‘astounded’ with Elmo, before transforming himself into an actual ice cube. It’s far from the first time that we’ve seen the rapper appear in family-friendly entertainment — the films Are We There Yet? and Are We Done Yet? set a precedent in 2005 and 2007 respectively — but it’s certainly evidence of just how varied his career has been.
One of the ways that Sesame Street has managed to stay relevant over the course of its long broadcast history is its use of celebrities and public figures. More than anything else, these appearances do a great deal to keep the show in the public eye and maintain its reputation as a cultural touchstone — and part of the success of that effort is thanks to the huge breadth of culture that the show takes in. The fact that artists as diverse as Yo Yo Ma and Ice Cube could both appear on the show and neither one seem out of place is a testament to how all-encompassing Sesame Street is.
Many have taken to social media to express their surprise and delight at seeing Ice Cube appear alongside Elmo.
Never thought I'd see the day Ice Cube be on Sesame Street. lol #Dope
— NOVEL (@IamNovel) October 29, 2014
— Dan Power (@danpower728) October 30, 2014
However, not everyone was in favour of the appearance. For some, seeing the rapper who featured on songs like ‘Dopeman’ and ‘Gangsta Gangsta’ appearing on a childrens television classic was a little too jarring. Some of his acting roles may have seemed questionable to some fans, but it’s hard to argue against this performance being the furthest away from his early work with N.W.A.
So, ice Cube goes on Sesame Street and everyone is like, ok with that?
— Willie ???? (@Willie1derful) October 30, 2014
Whichever side of the argument you stand on, it’s difficult to argue that Ice Cube doesn’t do a good job. Just as he looks right at home as the foul-mouthed, irritable police chief in the Jump Street movies, he seems very comfortable in a setting intended for younger audiences. We’ve seen some awful results when rappers try their hand at acting — the less said about Vanilla Ice’s stab at Hollywood, the better — but Ice Cube has proven himself as very capable in a variety of roles. In fact, his great success prompts some potent questions about how the 90s rap scene could have turned out differently.
Do you think Ice Cube did a good job on Sesame Street? Or would you prefer to see him go back to his roots. Let us know in the comments section below, or drop us a line on Twitter.