It might be odd to imagine the lovable and squeaky-clean Mr. Rogers making money from gangsta rap, but that’s exactly what happened, according to Ice Cube. The West Coast rap pioneer related the story to fans during an Instagram Live session celebrating the 30th anniversary of his solo debut album, AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted. While talking about the creation, reception, and impact of that album, he revealed that one person who received royalties from it would have been unexpected to anyone not in-the-know: The host of the educational children’s TV show, Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, which was once sampled on the project.
The song in question, “A Gangsta’s Fairytale,” opens with a sample of a portion of the Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood theme song, which the usually agreeable television host took issue with, suing Ice Cube for royalties and eventually prompting Cube to remove the sample entirely from later reissues of the album. As he told fans who tuned into his Live:
“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. It’s a trip because off this song, Mr. Rogers sued us. He was mad because we had the Mister Rogers theme at the beginning of this sh*t. ‘It’s a wonderful day in the neighborhood,’ and all that. The n**** sued us and was getting like five cents a record until we took that part off.”
I’m not sure what’s funnier — the thought of the wholesome Mr. Rogers checking his mail for a check from an album called AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted or the fact that Ice Cube apparently doesn’t know the words to the Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood theme song. In any event, you can check out the full Live stream above.