The Real Meaning Behind Ice Cube’s ‘Trying To Maintain’

Ice Cube’s song “Trying to Maintain” was released in February 2021. The rapper unexpectedly announced that he was going to drop a new track the day before in an Instagram post, which showed a silhouetted image of him holding a flame up to a microphone.

The former N.W.A. member hasn’t released new music since his 2018 album Everythang’s Corrupt, which peaked at number 62 on the Billboard 200 chart. Kyle Mullin praised Ice Cube’s “vigorous delivery” in Exclaim! while XXL wrote that he had “fire but little finesse.” This new single shows him delivering the same fire and vigor through lyrics like “I don’t fit in your formula / I only fit in your b***h, I’m warning ya.”

Throughout the new song’s lyrics, Ice Cube lashes out at anyone trying to criticize him, telling them “Your baby mind is in a stroller,” and that he’s “been a vet.” Internet commenters seem to get a specific mention when he raps “F**k your cancel culture, b***h / You can’t cancel a soldier, quit.” He also mentions “clickbait” and the media discussing him, declaring, “F**k a critic and his analytics.” In the chorus, he either explains or defends his actions by reminding the listener that he’s just “trying to maintain.”

Although fans speculated this might be the first single from a new album, Ice Cube denied that any full-length projects were coming out soon. “Clarity: New solo song… still finishing up that Mt. Westmore album…” the rapper tweeted. Instead, the track might be a response to a 2020 controversy. 

Is Ice Cube hitting back at the critics who "cancelled" him for meeting Trump?

The lyrics of “Trying to Maintain” may be a response to the criticism that Ice Cube, whose real name is O’Shea Jackson, faced in 2020 for his political actions. Twitter exploded when a senior advisor to Donald Trump revealed that Ice Cube had worked with the president in the months leading up to the election, per Newsweek.

Although he slammed Trump in one of his songs on Everythang’s Corrupt — which was straightforwardly called “Arrest The President” — Ice Cube seemed to have changed his tune by 2020. In November, he confirmed that he had multiple discussions with Trump about his campaign “Contract With Black America,” as The Independent reported.

Ice Cube also joined his fellow rappers Lil Wayne and 50 Cent in publicly praising Trump’s “Platinum Plan,” designed to invest $500 billion in black communities. Per NME, he denied that he was endorsing Trump for a second term, but refused to confirm if he would vote for Democrats Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

He announced on Feb. 4, 2021, that he will be meeting with president Joe Biden to discuss the future of the “Contract for Black America,” confirming that he is still willing to work with politicians on the campaign. “They reached out,” he said, according to The Hill. “We haven’t talked yet. We’re just starting to figure out when we can have this meeting.”

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