“Bye, Felisha.” It was a throwaway line from the 1995 Ice Cube-Chris Tucker stoner comedy Friday that two decades later became a ubiquitous meme in typical ubiquitous meme fashion. Meaning totally inexplicably. The quote, uttered under-his-breath by Ice Cube’s blunt-smoking Craig Jones to neighborhood pest Felisha, is now pop-culture code for “good riddance” — and of course it even has its own Urban Dictionary entry (the new form adopts the more common spelling of the name, Felicia).
The line shows up in the Ice Cube-produced N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton, as does as a subsequent scene showing Cube working on the script for Friday, leading “Felicia” enthusiasts to connect the dots and wonder if the hit movie just explained the popular phrase’s origin. So we asked Cube and company at the film’s junket, which you can watch in the video above.
And the answer is… not really, but there’s still an interesting story about how it ended up in Compton. Director F. Gary Gray, who also helmed Friday, told us it was Cube’s son, O'Shea Jackson Jr., who had the idea to plant the “Felicia” Easter egg in the movie. She’s manifested in the form of an N.W.A. groupie kicked out of a hotel party after her very angry boyfriend comes looking for her. It’s then that one of the bandmates push her out the door with the parting words, “Bye, Felicia.” (It’s worth noting that not everyone is thrilled with the scene’s gender politics; see this journalist’s tale of confronting Gray about what she believes to be a misogynistic moment in a film with plenty of unfavorable portrayals of women.)
In the end, the provenance of the phrase in Friday is more simple: it was just a subtly passive-aggressive salutation to a character named Felisha. Regardless, Cube expressed his amazement at the line’s unexpected popularity two decades later: “It’s really strange that a throwaway line like that would be so popular, and people would enjoy it so much, and it would be the ultimate ’get out of my face,’ diss,” he laughed.
Asked if he people quote the line back to him a lot, Cube shot back: “I use it a lot.”
Straight Outta Compton is now in theaters. Watch Gray talk more about his memories of Friday: