On February 24, 1993, American gangsta rap star Ice Cube released the song “It Was a Good Day.” The song was a smash hit, topping Billboard’s Hot Rap Songs list and hitting 15 on the Hot 100 list. True to its title, “It Was a Good Day” outlines a pretty good day in the life of Ice Cube. The lyrics are a bit too R-rated for this, a family-friendly publication, but Wikipedia summarizes it well, so, let’s use that. But before we do, there are, let’s say, adult themes, so if you’re using Now I Know in your 4th-grade classroom, skip this one.
Okay, onward to Wikipedia:
The song (and the music video) tell the story of how Ice Cube has a good day in South Central Los Angeles. Throughout the song he enjoys playing basketball, having sex, smoking marijuana (whether coincidentally or on purpose, the song is 4:20 in length), getting drunk, going to his friend Short Dog’s house to watch Yo! MTV Raps and later win at craps and bones, eating fast food at 2 AM, and cruising the streets of South Central undisturbed, free from having “to use [his] AK.” He even sees the lights on the Goodyear blimp, which Ice Cube says reads “Ice Cube’s a Pimp”.
Okay, maybe that’s not everyone’s definition of a “good day.” But it was a good day for Ice Cube. And, maybe — it was a real day. In fact, there’s a very good chance that it happened 25 years ago today: January 20, 1992.
To be clear, at no point in the song do the lyrics explicitly mention the day, month, or even year of the events cataloged. But, intentional or not, Ice Cube left a lot of clues about the date of his good day. Add in the sheer number of people who use the Internet, and you’re going to find at least one person who spends a good amount of time piecing those clues together and posting it somewhere online. That’s what happened here: a few years back, a website named Murk Avenue used its Tumblr to catalog some of those clues.
To start, Murk Avenue noted, Yo! MTV Raps debuted in August of 1988. As Ice Cube was watching that show, the good day must have occurred no earlier than then. And similarly, the song came out in February of 1993 (and was certainly recorded earlier), setting our upper-bound. Next — and the Wikipedia synopsis misses this key clue — Ice Cube notes that his favorite basketball team, the Los Angeles Lakers, defeated the Seattle Supersonics that day. Murk Avenue runs down all the dates on which this happened, and as it turns out, there are only a dozen during the August 1988 to February 2003 time frame. We’re well on our way to finding the good day.
After that, things get a bit dicey. (To quote Albus Dumbledore, “from this point forth, we shall be leaving the firm foundation of fact and journeying together through the murky marshes of memory into thickets of wildest guesswork.” Or, at least, we’re going into conjecture and some subjective measurements.)
First, Murk Avenue points out, the song implies that the air quality in LA that day was pretty good; after all, Ice Cube was able to see the Goodyear blimp. Reasonable enough, right? By looking at smog levels, the author was able to eliminate eight of the remaining twelve dates.
Next — and this is the biggest jump — comes Ice Cube’s reference to an unexpected tryst with his girlfriend at the time, Kim. As the lyrics state, Kim didn’t call Ice Cube up, inviting him over; rather, she sent him a “beep.” That’s a reference to a beeper, and Murk Avenue makes the leap that “beepers weren’t adopted by mobile phone companies until the 1990s.” Assuming that’s true, we’re down to only two dates: January 18, 1991 and January 20, 1992. As Ice Cube was filming Boyz n the Hood on the first of those dates, that left January 20, 1992, as the only remaining possibility.
At first, Ice Cube denied this, telling the press that “It Was a Good Day” was a “fictional song” — “[his] interpretation of what a great day would be,” but not a date specific. To muddy the waters even further, another blogger took issue with the conclusions of Murk Avenue, noting that beepers were available in the late 1980s and, well, the rest of the argument is too reliant on curse words to go into further detail. Suffice it to say that this second blogger came up with a different date: November 30, 1988.
But then, Ice Cube did something surprising. A group of advertising creatives got together in hopes of using “It Was a Good Day” as a fundraiser for A Place Called Home, a Los Angeles-area charity which helps kids with various aspects of their lives. Specifically, this advertising trio (per Adweek) set out to make January 20th “National Good Day Day,” marking the festivities with an Ice Cube-themed greeting from the Goodyear blimp. And on that date in 2014, that’s exactly what happened — per a follow-up post from Murk Avenue (with pictures), the Goodyear blimp took flight from a Los Angeles-area airstrip with a simple message: “It’s a Good Day.” The campaign raised $25,000 for A Place Called Home via crowdsourced donations. And a special guest showed up for the festivities: Ice Cube himself. All it took for him to acknowledge that January 20th was the Good Day was for someone to turn the occasion into a good deed.
So, Happy 25th Annual National Good Day Day.
From the Archives: Save Ferris . . . and Juan: When was Ferris Bueller’s Day Off? The bonus item answers that question.