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Ice-T (Tracy Marrow) 1958–

Ice-T (Tracy Marrow) 1958

Rapper, actor, social commentator

From Crime to Rhyme

Original Gangsterand Actor

Warnings and Promises

Cop-Killer Debate

Selected works

Sources

Other

Ice-T appeared on the music scene in 1987 with a new style, gangster rap, which offers rhymes about crimeand street life in generalin unflinching detail. His tough, groundbreaking records paved the way for the wave of younger gangster-rappers that included Ice Cube and N.W.A. Before Ice-Ts arrival on the scene, rappers devoted most of their lyrics to partying. But Ice-T, an ex-criminal from South Central Los Angeles trying to go straight by way of his music, sang about what he knew: robbery, murder, pimps, hustlers, gangs, and prison. In his own words: I try to write about fun/And the good times/But the pen yanks away and explodes/And destroys the rhyme.

By the early 1990s, however, Ice-T had reached such a level of success as a recording artist and film star that his gangster image began to give way to that of a teacher. Newsweek referred to him as a foulmouthed moralist. Entertainment Weeklys James Bernard declared that Ice-T has something to teach anyone concerned about the rotting core of Americas cities. As his success broadened, Ice-T continued to sing about the streetbut with a determination to help black kids escape the ghetto and make white kids understand it. He also considered his financial future a matter of strategy: The name of the game is capitalism, reads a typical Ice-T quote from his publicity packet, and I aim to win that game, too.

Ironically, when Ice ventured into rock n rollgenerally a less controversial music form than raphe touched off his greatest controversy: a furor arose over his incendiary 1992 song, Cop Killer, recorded with his hardcore rock band Body Count. After breaking ties with his record company, he signed with the independent rap label, Priority, and continued his assault on racism and mainstream sensibilities.

From Crime to Rhyme

Ice-T was born Tracey Marrow on February 16, 1958 in Newark, New Jersey. By the time he was in the seventh grade, both his parents had died, and he went to live with an aunt in Los Angeles. While at Crenshaw High School, he wrote rhymes for local gangs and was soon drawn by his friends into petty crime. At age 17, he left his aunts home and, in his words, started hanging out in the hood with my friends. By the early 1980s, Ice was also drawn to rap music, thanks to the success of artists like

At a Glance

Born Tracey Marrow (some sources say Morrow) on February 16,1958 in Newark, NJ; raised by an aunt in Los Angeles, CA, after the death of his parents; married Darlene; one child.

Career: Recording artist and film actor. Wrote rhymes for Los Angeles gangs in 1970s; recorded The Coldest Rap in 1982 for independent label; released first album, 1987; released first album with band Body Count, 1992; signed with Priority records, 1993, and released Home Invasion. Joined Lollapalooza concert tour, 1991. Appeared in films Breaking 1984; Breakin 2: Electric Boogaloo, 1984; Rappin, 1985; New Jack City, 1991; Ricochet, 1992; CB4, Trespass, and Whos the Man, all 1993; and Surviving the Came, 1994; Tank Giri, 1995; Johnny Mnemonic, 1995; Players, 1997; Judgment Day, 1999; The Heist, 1999; Leprechaun in the Hood, 2000; 3000 Miles to Graceland, 2001; Appeared in television series New York Undercover, 1994-98; Players, 1997-98; Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, 2000-; Made for TV movie, Exiled: A Law & Order Movie, 1998; Author, with Heidi Siegmund, of The Ice Opinion, 1994.

Addresses: Record company Priority Records, 6430 West Sunset Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90028. Publicist-Susan Blond, Inc. 250 West 57th St., Suite 622, New York, NY 10107.

Kurtis Blow. In 1982 he recorded The Coldest Rap for an independent label and was paid twenty dollars for it.

Naturally, this kind of money was nothing compared to what he and his friends could make illegally. Although he claimed to have never been a gangbanger himself, he was close enough to see that world as a dead end. Eventually his friends starting being sent to prison. Then one of my buddies got life, he told Musician. And they were all calling me from jail, saying, Stay with that rap. Stay down. He stayed with it, honing his style and landing a part as a rapper in the 1984 movie Breakirí.

In addition to the advice and admiration of his friends, Ice relied on his girlfriend, Darlene, who stayed with him through the lean years and finally shared his success with him. Even though we were broke, Ice told Scott Cohen in Details, she knew that I could take five minutes out and go scam $20,000.I needed a girl who was ready to say, Dont do it, Ice. Its O.K. Darlene added that for a long time they were too broke to go to the movies: We just lived in one little room and paid rent. We didnt have a car for two years.

By the mid-1980s rap had grown from an urban phenomenon to a national one, but New York Citys rappers had a monopoly on street credentials. California, which had produced the good-natured surf pop of the Beach Boys and psychedelic rock bands like the Grateful Dead, hardly seemed a source of rhymes about urban strife. But Ice-Ts 1987 debut, Rhyme Pays, put South Central Los Angeles on the nations cultural map with its disturbing stories of inner-city warfare.

This new approach took the music community by storm; it also provoked charges from watchdog organizations like the Parents Music Resource Center and from critics on the political left and right who felt that Ice glorified violence, theft, and sexism. Subject matter aside, he drew fireand the first warning sticker placed on a rap record, by his reckoningfor using profanity. No one has yet been able to explain to me the definition of profanity anyhow I can think of ways to say stuffsaying things using legitimate words but in a context that makes a more profane comment than any bullshit swear words. The albums rap, 6 in the Morning, telling the story of a handful of gang members escaping the police became particularly well-known.

Ice returned in 1988 with Power. The cover of the album featured a bikini-clad Darlene pointing a gun at the camera; Ice hadnt softened his approach. The album yielded two hits, High Rollers and Im Your Pusher. Ices face began to appear more regularly on MTV, and he contributed the title song to the soundtrack of the 1988 film, Colors. His high-profile gangsterism provoked more attacks from various authorities, particularly when he began speaking to students in schools. In a discussion with Arion Berger in Creem, Ice presented his imitation of an FBI agent opposed to his school tours: He has a record here called, um, Im Your Pusher. Well, have you played it? Oh, we dont have a phonograph here at the Bureau.

Ices frustration at attempts to suppress his music motivated a change of direction on his next LP, The Iceberg/Freedom of Speech. Just Watch What You Say, released in 1989. A drawing of his face appeared on the cover with a gun to either side of his head and the barrel of another in his mouth. He enlisted punk politician and former Dead Kennedys lead singer Jello Biafra to deliver an announcement of right-wing martial law over a sampled piece of deathmetal guitar, setting the tone for a relentless counterattack on conservative thinking. The record also featured, Peel Their Caps Back, which Berger called Ice-Ts most vicious criminal record so far.

Ice later reflected that the Iceberg album was too preoccupied with censorship and free expression. Sales were good on that album, he told Dennis Hunt of the Los Angeles Times, but [I can see where] some of the raps made some people think I was going soft. I just got caught up in messagesabout freedom of speech. People at the record company wanted me to do that and Im sorry that I listened to them. In the meantime, he added, the rising stars of gangster rap had upped the ante of street-tough rhyming. In 1991, though, he would come roaring to the forefront of the scene once

Original Gangsterand Actor

Ice-T landed the role of an undercover cop in the smash 1991 film New Jack City and his song, New Jack Hustler, appeared on the films soundtrack and was later nominated for a Grammy Award. He received excellent reviews for his acting in the film; Alan Light of Rolling Stone called his performance riveting. It was scary, Ice told Dave DiMartino of Entertainment Weekly. I didnt know how the actors were gonna react, and in music Im in my own domain. But when I got there, the first thing I found out was that they were, like, in awe of methey wanted, like, autographs and stuff. Soon he had signed on to play a drug dealer in another film, Ricochet.

Ices 1991 album, O.G.Original Gangster, contained twenty-four tracks of uncompromising and often violent raps. Rather than pursue the anti-censorship course of the Iceberg album, O.G. returned to Ice-Ts earlier turf with a vengeance. The albums themes are summed up by titles like Straight Up Nigga, Prepared to Die, and Home of the Bodybag. Ices raps, though laced with the profanity of earlier records, had become tougher and leaner; Mic Contract likened rap competition to gang warfare and suggested that Ice-T was ready to face off with young gangster-rappers. The album also included a rock and roll song, Body Count, named for the hardcore band he had assembled. Ice enlisted four different producers to work on the album, and DJ Evil E. provided the eclectic mix of beats and samples.

Reviews of O.G. were mostly very positive. Even as Jon Pareles of the New York Times acknowledged contradictions between Ices trigger-happy machismo and his increasing maturity. He remarked that [O.G.] works to balance the thrills of action and the demands of conscience. A notice in Musician commented, Its his candor that really draws blood, while Stereo Review insisted that Ice-Ts rhymes cut to the bone with lack of pretense or apology. And in his Rolling Stone review, Mark Coleman noted that O.G. can be heard as a careening, open-ended discussion. Of course Ice does tend to follow his sharpest points with defiant kiss-offs. But get past his bluster and this guy is full of forthright, inspiring perceptions.

Warnings and Promises

For its unsparing language and content, O.G. received a parental warning sticker; Coleman claimed that such warnings were like sticking a Band-Aid on a gunshot wound. Ice-Ts response to the sticker, in a quote which appeared in his publicity materials as well as ads for the album, was as follows: I have a sticker on my record that says Parental Guidance is Suggested. In my book, parental guidance is always suggested. If you need a sticker to tell you that you need to guide your child, youre a dumb fkin parent anyhow.

Also in 1991, Ice-T joined the ambitious traveling rock festival known as Lollapalooza. Organized by Perry Farrellwhose band, Janes Addiction, was the headlining attractionthe tour included such divergent acts as Black Rock Coalition founders Living Colour, the industrial dance outfit Nine Inch Nails, and British postpunk veterans Siouxie and the Banshees. As the only rapper on the tour, Ice-T faced Lollapaloozas predominantly white audiences with a positive attitude: All I want them to do is come out and say I like him. Not get the message, not understand a word Im saying. Just think, Those black guys on the stage I used to be scared of, I like em. I want to come out and say, Peace. If I can do that, thats cool. His participation in Lollapalooza attested to his belief that rap had the same rebellious and unifying quality that rock and roll had when it first appeared: White kids will continue to get hipper to black culture. With R&B, the kids didnt want to meet us, but this is rock & roll all over againeverybody chillin together.

Ice-T began as a controversial rapper in the late 1980s, throwing around gangster slang and strong language and provoking anxiety in many listeners. By the early 1990s, however, he had matured into a thoughtful, charismatic performer with strong careers in at least two media. Despite his newfound success, though, Ice insisted that he still made a lot of people nervous: Parents are scared because my record is Number One on the campus charts of Harvard for three months, reads a quote in his publicity packet. These kids are being trained to grow up and become Supreme Court justices and politicians.

Cop-Killer Debate

Little did the rapper realize how politically important he would become. Soon after the long-promised Body Count record hit the stores, a firestorm surrounded the song, Cop Killer. Though Ice explained the track away as the fantasy of a downtrodden but sick man driven over the edge by police brutality, police groups and conservative politicians condemned it for advocating the killing of police officers. Even then-President George Bush and Vice President Dan Quayleadmittedly not figures Ice ever cared to pleasetook the opportunity to lambast the record publicly. Time quoted Doug Elder, head of a Houston police organization, as saying, You mix this with the summer, the violence and a little drugs, and they are going to unleash a reign of terror on communities all across this country. Though the quote provided no clarification of who they were, Elder clearly appealed to fears aroused by the upheaval in Los Angeles and other cities after the 1992 acquittal of four white police officers in the beating of black motorist Rodney King.

Ice expressed no surprise about the riotshe called them a revolution in a Rolling Stone interviewas hed been predicting such a turn of events for years. He was adamant in his public statements about a point few authorities cared to acknowledge: that rap, Ices included, had opened the ears of a lot of white kids. For the first time there was something like a riot and the white parents werent able to say Look how terrible they [people of color] are, because the white kids said, We know why they did it, he insisted to Spin. Why? Because theres been a dialogue through rap music to let them know were really ready. Ultimately, however, he elected to have Cop Killer removed from the album and later gave Musician magazine seven reasons why. Among them was his claim that it was a good way to let people know what censorship is like. In addition, giving the single away at concerts neutralized the charge that he was motivated by greed. Finallyand perhaps most importantlyremoving it helped to restore the focus on police brutality.

Surprisingly, the result of the controversy left no obvious rancor between Ice and Warner Bros./Sire. Apparently, the company never demanded that Ice-T pull the record; So I have a lot of loyalty to them, he remarked. Even so, star and label elected to part company. Ice, after reviewing his options, signed with Priority, a Los Angeles-based label best known for releasing records by Ice Cube and N.W.A. In 1993 he came roaring back into the public eye with the album, Home Invasion, in which he continued to mine the theme of raps infiltration of young white minds. Time called the record for the most part, balanced and coherent, adding, With his gangsta posturing, Ice-T is far from a role model for urban youth, but his real goal is to expose suburbia to inner-city anger.

Ice continued appearing in filmshe co-starred with Ice Cube in the thriller, Trespass, and in late 1993 was at work on Ernest Dickersons Surviving the Game, in which he plays a homeless man hunted for sport. In addition, Ice collaborated with speedmetal rockers Slayer on a song for the Judgment Night soundtrack. He also announced plans for a new Body Count album. We wanted a group that has the attack of Slayer, the impending doom of [British metal pioneers Black] Sabbath, the drive of [U.K. punk-metal trio] Motorhead and [is] groove-oriented, he explained to Musician, to come up with what I call consumable hardcore musica record that once you hear it you can sing it. Despite his declared revolutionary principles, his lyrics for Body Count were lambasted by critics for their perceived misogyny.

Clearly, Ice-T came through the onslaught of negative publicity he received for Cop Killer with a redoubled sense of purpose and a diversified career portfolio. In addition to his film and recording work, he announced his intention to publish a book, The Ice Opinion, through St. Martins Press. Whether he would set off a new controversy with his future work remained to be determined, but he demonstrated that he was less interested in shock than in dialogue. I write to create some brain-cell activity, he insisted in Time. I want people to think about life on the street, but I dont want to bore them. I want them to ask themselves, Does it matter to me?

Apparently, what Ice thought mattered to many. Ice continued to represent the voice of street after the 1994 release of The Ice Opinion even though as an entertainer, he was several thousand dollars and many years from the streets. The book touched on Ices views of sex, religion, education, and drugs. And in a review of The Ice Opinion, Artforum International Magazine noted Ices own contradictions. They describe the book as, On the one hand a profound critic of crime and the injustice of the prison system, coupled with an urgent call for access to education; on the other, a seriously seductive glamorization of the criminal life as the ultimate independent free space.

Ice-T took that contradictory stance to the networks and producer Dick Wolf in 1997 when he proposed his crime fighting drama, Players. The show followed a group of ex-convicts who were working with the Feds to fight crime with crime. Ice was accustomed to television roles and Dick Wolfs style after guest appearances on Wolfs Fox Network show New York Undercover. The foray from Cop Killer to the right side of the law didnt concern Ice either. Im not going to do anything that isnt me, he explained to People Weekly. I still gotta go back to my neighborhood. Each of the roles allowed Ice to stand behind his view on law enforcement. I believe in doing the right thing, He told Entertainment Weekly. But I dont believe that just because you put on a uniform that makes you right. Ice must have enjoyed working with Wolf, he signed on to play Detective Odafin (Fin) Tutuola on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit in 2000.

Ice-Ts next album release was 7th Deadly Sin, with Body Count. To promote the release, he entered into a groundbreaking partnership with Atomic Pop, a full-service, internet music company. Atomic Pop provided an aggressive online marketing program for the release but ultimately lacked the marketing force outside the Net that was necessary to push the album. In an interview with Hollywood Reporter Ice T explained, Atomic Pop did an excellent job in setting up a website, but honestly, they lacked in the offline promotion department. He added, I am trying to work with labels over the Net, but at the moment, I really only use the Net as a promotion device.

The importance of cyberspace not being lost on Ice-T, he took a less than popular stance in the discussions surrounding Napster, a website that provided easy access to MP3 sharing software. Although he understood musicians views against Napster, he labeled record executives that conspired to shut the website down gangstas. Ice also said that he understood how fans could feel vindicated in ripping off the labels by sharing music because labels had historically abused artists.

Ice-Ts willingness to seek out the Net as a viable outlet for music led to an appointment to the advisory board of Solutions Media Inc. (SMI) in 2000. After hosting the unveiling of SMIs Internet music division, SomeMusic.com, SMI president and CEO Wayne Irving II welcomed Ice-Ts business sense and input as a songwriter, actor, author and musician. Knowing that he participates or speaks at just about every music conference in the world and promotes exactly what we are providing, explained Irving, I knew he would be a great addition to our team. As a member of the SMI board, Ice contributed to the development of viable electronic applications for the consumer market. For example, I dont have time to burn up MP3s and deal with the technology, he told the Hollywood Reporter. I love (MP3). but I dont think they have gotten user-friendly enough to where I would listen to an MP3 over a CD.

Ice T also ventured into the fun part of the computer world as the voice of Agent Nathaniel Cain in Fox Interactives Sanity, Aikens Artifact, a science-fiction fantasy adventure game. Ironically, his participation in bringing the Net and computer futures to the forefront is as important as his past forays to bring street life into the spotlight. Ultimately, there has to be a paradigm shift, and I think it will be here soon. he told the Hollywood Reporter. Once you get into the Internet, you tend to think that everyone knows what you know. But you really are still a minority. People are just now getting cell phones, and people are also just now getting into computers. Staying on top of music innovations, Ice still gets people to think about life. His presence on the net has merely added the streets to the net and forces them to question; Does it matter to me?

Selected works

(films)

Breakin, 1984.

New Jack City, 1991.

Trespass, 1993.

Surviving the Game, 1994.

(television)

New York Undercover.

Players, 1997.

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, 2000.

albums

Rhyme Pays (includes 6 in the Morning), Sire, 1987.

Power (includes High Rollers and Im Your Pusher), Sire, 1988.

The Iceberg/Freedom of Speech Just Watch What You Say (includes Peel

O.G.Original Gangster (includes New Jack Hustler, Straight Up

Body Count (includes Cop Killer; song deleted from second version),

Home Invasion, Priority, 1993.

Return of the Real, Priority, 1996.

7th Deadly Sin, Priority, 1999.

With other artists

Colors (motion picture soundtrack; appears on title song), Sire, 1988.

New Jack City (motion picture soundtrack; appears on New Jack Hustler).

(With Ice Cube) Trespass (motion picture soundtrack; appears on title song).

(With Slayer) Judgment Night (motion picture soundtrack.

Sources

Artform, Summer 1994.

Billboard, June 8, 1991.

Broadcasting & Cable, August 7, 2000.

Business Wire, March 23, 2000, pp. 350; May 11, 2000, pp. 77.

Creem, April/May 1991; June 1993, pp. 58-67.

Details, July 1991.

Emerge, September 1992, p. 30.

Entertainment Weekly, May 24, 1991; May 31, 1991; February 12, 1993, pp.

Hollywood Reporter, July 14, 1999, pp. 18; August 2,2000, pp. 5; August 7, 2000, pp. 4; February 14, 2001, pp. 7.

Jet, August 17, 1992, pp. 35.

Los Angeles Times, April 21, 1991.

Musician, June 1991; August 1991; January 1993.

Newsweek, July 1, 1991.

New York Times, May 19, 1991.

Option, March 1992, pp. 75-79.

Parade (Detroit), June 6, 1993, p. 2.

People Weekly, June 30, 1997, pp. 16

Publishers Weekly, June 28, 1993, p. 17; January 24, 1994, pp. 45.

Rolling Stone, May 16,1991; June 13, 1991; September 19, 1991; June 25,

The Source, May 1991.

Spin, May 1991; July 1993, pp. 71-75, 92-93.

Stereo Review, August 1991.

Time, June 22, 1992, pp. 66-68; May 3, 1992, p. 81.

Online

Internet Movie Database, http://www.imdb.com

Other

Ice-T press release, Warner Bros./Sire 1991.

Simon Glickman and Leslie Rochelle

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Ice-T 1958(?)–

Ice-T 1958(?)

Rapper, actor, social commentator

From Crime to Rhyme

Original Gangsterand Actor

Warnings and Promises

Cop-Killer Debate

Selected discography

Sources

Ice-T appeared on the music scene in 1987 with a new style: gangster rap, which offers rhymes about crimeand street life in generalin unflinching detail. His tough, groundbreaking records paved the way for the wave of younger gangster-rappers that included Ice Cube and N.W.A. Before his arrival on the scene, rappers devoted most of their lyrics to partying. But Ice-T, an ex-criminal from South Central Los Angeles trying to go straight by way of his music, sang about what he knew: robbery, murder, pimps, hustlers, gangs, and prison. In his own words: I try to write about fun/And the good times/But the pen yanks away and explodes/And destroys the rhyme.

By the early 1990s, however, Ice-T had reached such a level of success as a recording artist and film star that his gangster image began to give way to that of a teacher. Newsweek referred to him as a foulmouthed moralist. Entertainment Weeklys James Bernard declared that Ice-T has something to teach anyone concerned about the rotting core of Americas cities. As his success broadened, Ice-T continued to sing about the streetbut with a determination to help black kids escape the ghetto and make white kids understand it. He also considered his financial future a matter of strategy: The name of the game is capitalism, reads a typical Ice-T quote from his publicity packet, and I aim to win that game, too.

Ironically, it was when Ice ventured into rock n rollgenerally a less controversial music form than rapthat he touched off his greatest controversy: a furor arose over his incendiary 1992 song Cop Killer, recorded with his hardcore rock band Body Count. After breaking ties with his record company, he signed with the independent rap label Priority and continued his assault on racism and mainstream sensibilities.

From Crime to Rhyme

Ice-T was born Tracey Marrow in the late 1950she refuses to release his actual birthdatein Newark, New Jersey. By the time he was in the seventh grade, both his parents had died, and he went to live with an aunt in Los Angeles. While at Crenshaw High School, he wrote rhymes for local gangs and was soon drawn by his friends into petty crime. At age 17, he left his aunts home and, in his words, starting hanging out in the hood with my friends. By the early 1980s, Ice was also drawn to rap music, thanks to the

At a Glance

Born Tracey Marrow (some sources say Morrow), late 1950s (he refuses to reveal exact date), in Newark, NJ; raised by an aunt in Los Angeles, CA, after the death of his parents.

Recording artist and film actor. Wrote rhymes for Los Angeles gangs in 1970s; recorded The Coldest Rap in 1982 for independent label; released first album, 1987; released first album with band Body Count, 1992; signed with Priority records, 1993, and released Home Invasion. Joined Lollapalooza concert tour, 1991. Appeared in films Breakin, 1984; Breakin 2: Electric Boogaloo, 1984; Rappin 1985; New Jack City, 1991; Ricochet, 1992; CB4, Trespass, and Whos the Man, all 1993; and Surviving the Came, scheduled for release in 1994. Author, with Heidi Siegmund, of The Ice Opinion, 1994

Addresses: Record company Priority Records, 6430 West Sunset Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90028. Publicist-Susan Blond, Inc. 250 West 57th St., Suite 622, New York, NY 10107.

success of artists like Kurtis Blow. In 1982 he recorded The Coldest Rap for an independent label and was paid twenty dollars for it.

Naturally, this kind of money was nothing compared to what he and his friends could make illegally. Although he claimed to have never been a gangbanger himself, he was close enough to see that world as a dead end. Eventually his friends starting being sent to prison. Then one of my buddies got life, he told Musician. And they were all calling me from jail, saying,Stay with that rap. Stay down. He stayed with it, honing his style and landing a part as a rapper in the 1984 movie Breakin.

In addition to the advice and admiration of his friends, Ice relied on his girlfriend, Darlene, who stayed with him through the lean years and finally shared his success with him. Even though we were broke, Ice told Scott Cohen in Details, she knew that I could take five minutes out and go scam $20,000.I needed a girl who was ready to say, Dont do it, Ice. Its O.K. Darlene added that for a long time they were too broke to go to the movies: We just lived in one little room and paid rent. We didnt have a car for two years.

By the mid-1980s rap had grown from an urban phenomenon to a national one, but New York Citys rappers had a monopoly on street credentials. California, which had produced the good-natured surf pop of the Beach Boys and psychedelic rock bands like the Grateful Dead, hardly seemed a source of rhymes about urban strife. But Ice-Ts 1987 debut, Rhyme Pays, put South Central Los Angeles on the nations cultural map with its disturbing stories of inner-city warfare.

This new approach took the music community by storm; it also provoked charges from watchdog organizations like the Parents Music Resource Center and from critics on the political left and right who felt that Ice glorified violence, theft, and sexism. Subject matter aside, he drew fireand the first warning sticker placed on a rap record, by his reckoningfor using profanity. No one has yet been able to explain to me the definition of profanity anyhow. I can think of ways to say stuffsaying things using legitimate words but in a contextthat makes a more profane comment than any bullshit swear words. The albums rap 6 in the Morning became particularly well-known, telling the story of a handful of gang members escaping the police.

Ice returned in 1988 with Power. The cover of the album featured a bikini-clad Darlene pointing a gun at the camera; Ice hadnt softened his approach. The album yielded two hits, High Rollers and Im Your Pusher. Ices face began to appear more regularly on MTV, and he contributed the title song to the soundtrack of the 1988 film Colors. His high-profile gangsterism provoked more attacks from various authorities, particularly when he began speaking to students in schools. In a discussion with Arion Berger in Creem, Ice presented his imitation of an FBI agent opposed to his school tours: He has a record here called, um, Im Your Pusher. Well, have you played it? Oh, we dont have a phonograph here at the Bureau.

Ices frustration at attempts to suppress his music motivated a change of direction on his next LP, The Iceberg / Freedom of SpeechJust Watch What You Say, released in 1989. A drawing of his face appeared on the cover with a gun to either side of his head and the barrel of another in his mouth. He enlisted punk politician and former Dead Kennedys lead singer Jello Biafra to deliver an announcement of right-wing martial law over a sampled piece of deathmetal guitar, setting the tone for a relentless counterattack on conservative thinking. The record also featured Peel Their Caps Back, which Berger called Ice-Ts most vicious criminal record so far.

Ice later reflected that the Iceberg album was too preoccupied with censorship and free expression. Sales were good on that album, he told Dennis Hunt of the Los Angeles Times, but [I can see where] some of the raps made some people think I was going soft. I just got caught up in messagesabout freedom of speech. People at the record company wanted me to do that and Im sorry that I listened to them. In the meantime, he added, the rising stars of gangster rap had upped the ante of street-tough rhyming. In 1991, though, he would come roaring to the forefront of the scene once again.

Original Gangsterand Actor

Ice-T landed the role of an undercover cop in the smash 1991 film New Jack City and his song New Jack Hustler appeared on the films soundtrack and was later nominated for a Grammy Award. He received excellent reviews for his acting in the film; Alan Light of Rolling Stone called his performance riveting. It was scary, Ice told Dave DiMartino of Entertainment Weekly. I didnt know how the actors were gonna react, and in music Im in my own domain. But when I got there, the first thing I found out was that they were, like, in awe of methey wanted, like, autographs and stuff. Soon he had signed on to play a drug dealer in another film, Ricochet.

Ices 1991 album O.G.Original Gangster contained twenty-four tracks of uncompromising and often violent raps. Rather than pursue the anti-censorship course of the Iceberg album, O.G. returned to Ice-Ts earlier turf with a vengeance. The albums themes are summed up by titles like Straight Up Nigga, Prepared to Die, and Home of the Bodybag. Ices raps, though laced with the profanity of earlier records, had become tougher and leaner; Mic Contract likened rap competition to gang warfare and suggested that Ice-T was ready to face off with young gangster-rappers. The album also included a rock and roll song, Body Count, named for the hardcore band he had assembled. Ice enlisted four different producers to work on the album, and DJ Evil E. provided the eclectic mix of beats and samples.

Reviews of O.G. were mostly very positive. Even as Jon Pareles of the New York Times acknowledged contradictions between Ices trigger-happy machismo and his increasing maturity, he remarked that [O.G.] works to balance the thrills of action and the demands of conscience. A notice in Musician commented, Its his candor that really draws blood, while Stereo Review insisted that Ice-Ts rhymes cut to the bone with lack of pretense or apology. And in his Rolling Stone review, Mark Coleman noted that O.G. can be heard as a careening, open-ended discussion. Of course Ice does tend to follow his sharpest points with defiant kiss-offs.But get past his bluster and this guy is full of forthright, inspiring perceptions.

Warnings and Promises

For its unsparing language and content, O.G. received a parental warning sticker; Coleman claimed that such warnings were like sticking a Band-Aid on a gunshot wound. Ice-Ts response to the sticker, in a quote which appeared in his publicity materials as well as ads for the album, was as follows: I have a sticker on my record that says Parental Guidance is Suggested. In my book, parental guidance is always suggested. If you need a sticker to tell you that you need to guide your child, youre a dumb fkin parent anyhow.

Also in 1991, Ice-T joined the ambitious traveling rock festival known as Lollapalooza. Organized by Perry Farrellwhose band, Janes Addiction, was the headlining attractionthe tour included such divergent acts as Black Rock Coalition founders Living Colour, the industrial dance outfit Nine Inch Nails, and British postpunk veterans Siouxie and the Banshees. As the only rapper on the tour, Ice-T faced Lollapaloozas predominantly white audiences with a positive attitude: All I want them to do is come out and say I like him. Not get the message, not understand a word Im saying. Just think, Those black guys on the stage I used to be scared of, I like em. I want to come out and say, Peace. If I can do that, thats cool. His participation in Lollapalooza attested to his belief that rap had the same rebellious and unifying quality that rock and roll had when it first appeared: White kids will continue to get hipper to black culture. With R&B, the kids didnt want to meet us, but this is rock & roll all over againeverybody chillin together.

Ice-T began as a controversial rapper in the late 1980s, throwing around gangster slang and strong language and provoking anxiety in many listeners. By the early 1990s, however, he had matured into a thoughtful, charismatic performer with strong careers in at least two media. Despite his newfound success, though, Ice insisted that he still made a lot of people nervous: Parents are scared because my record is Number One on the campus charts of Harvard for three months, reads a quote in his publicity packet. These kids are being trained to grow up and become Supreme Court justices and politicians.

Cop-Killer Debate

Little did the rapper realize how politically important he would become. Soon after the long-promised Body Count record hit the stores, a firestorm surrounded the song Cop Killer, Though Ice explained the track away as the fantasy of a downtrodden but sick man driven over the edge by police brutality, police groups and conservative politicians condemned it for advocating the killing of police officers. Even then-President George Bush and Vice President Dan Quayleadmittedly not figures Ice ever cared to pleasetook the opportunity to lambast the record publicly. Time quoted Doug Elder, head of a Houston police organization, as saying You mix this with the summer, the violence and a little drugs, and they are going to unleash a reign of terror on communities all across this country. Though the quote provided no clarification of who they were, Elder clearly appealed to fears aroused by the upheaval in Los Angeles and other cities after the 1992 acquittal of four white police officers in the beating of black motorist Rodney King.

Ice expressed no surprise about the riotshe called them a revolution in a Rolling Stone interviewas hed been predicting such a turn of events for years. He was adamant in his public statements about a point few authorities cared to acknowledge: that rap, Ices included, had opened the ears of a lot of white kids. For the first time there was something like a riot and the white parents werent able to say Look how terrible they [people of color] are, because the white kids said, We know why they did it, he insisted to Spin. Why? Because theres been a dialogue through rap music to let them know were really ready. Ultimately, however, he elected to have Cop Killer removed from the album and later gave Musician magazine seven reasons why. Among them was his claim that it was a good way to let people know what censorship is like. In addition, giving the single away at concerts neutralized the charge that he was motivated by greed. Finallyand perhaps most importantlyremoving it helped to restore the focus on police brutality.

Surprisingly, the result of the controversy left no obvious rancor between Ice and Warner Bros./Sire. Apparently, the company never demanded that he pull the record; So I have a lot of loyalty to them, he remarked. Even so, star and label elected to part company. Ice, after reviewing his options, signed with Priority, a Los Angeles-based label best known for releasing records by Ice Cube and N.W.A. In 1993 he came roaring back into the public eye with the album Home Invasion, in which he continued to mine the theme of raps infiltration of young white minds. Time called the record for the most part, balanced and coherent, adding, With his gangsta posturing, Ice-T is far from a role model for urban youth, but his real goal is to expose suburbia to inner-city anger.

Ice continued appearing in filmshe co-starred with Ice Cube in the thriller Trespass and in late 1993 was at work on Ernest Dickersons Surviving the Game, in which he plays a homeless man hunted for sport. In addition, Ice collaborated with speedmetal rockers Slayer on a song for the Judgment Night soundtrack. He also announced plans for a new Body Count album. We wanted a group that has the attack of Slayer, the impending doom of [British metal pioneers Black] Sabbath, the drive of [U.K. punk-metal trio] Motorhead and [is] groove-oriented, he explained to Musician, to come up with what I call consumable hardcore musica record that once you hear it you can sing it. Despite his declared revolutionary principles, his lyrics for Body Count were lambasted by critics for their perceived misogyny.

Clearly, Ice-T came through the onslaught of negative publicity he received for Cop Killer with a redoubled sense of purpose and a diversified career portfolio. In addition to his film and recording work, he announced his intention to publish a book called The Ice Opinion through St. Martins Press. Whether he would set off a new controversy with his future work remained to be determined, but he demonstrated that he was less interested in shock than in dialogue. I write to create some brain-cell activity, he insisted in Time. I want people to think about life on the street, but I dont want to bore them. I want them to ask themselves, Does it matter to me?

Selected discography

Rhyme Pays (includes 6 in the Morning ), Sire, 1987.

Power (includes High Rollers and Im Your Pusher), Sire, 1988.

The Iceberg/Freedom of Speech Just Watch What You Say (includes Peel Their Caps Back ), Sire, 1989.

O.G.Original Gangster (includes New Jack Hustler, Straight Up Nigga, Prepared to Die, Home of the Bodybag, Mic Contract, and Body Count), Sire, 1991.

Body Count (includes Cop Killer; song deleted from second version), Sire, 1992.

Home Invasion, Priority, 1993.

With other artists

Colors (motion picture soundtrack; appears on title song), Sire, 1988.

New Jack City (motion picture soundtrack; appears on New Jack Hustler), Sire, 1991.

(With Ice Cube) Trespass (motion picture soundtrack; appears on title song), MCA, 1993.

(With Slayer) Judgment Night (motion picture soundtrack; appears on Disorder), Epic, 1993.

Sources

Periodicals

Billboard, June 8, 1991.

Creem, April/May 1991; June 1993, pp. 58-67.

Details, July 1991.

Emerge, September 1992, p. 30.

Entertainment Weekly, May 24, 1991; May 31, 1991; February 12, 1993, pp. 6-7.

Jet, August 17, 1992, pp. 35.

Los Angeles Times, April 21, 1991.

Musician, June 1991; August 1991; January 1993.

Newsweek, July 1, 1991.

New York Times, May 19, 1991.

Option, March 1992, pp. 75-79.

Parade (Detroit), June 6, 1993, p. 2.

Publishers Weekly, June 28, 1993, p. 17.

Rolling Stone, May 16, 1991; June 13, 1991; September 19, 1991; June 25, 1992, pp. 15-16; August 20, 1993, pp. 30-32, 60.

The Source, May 1991.

Spin, May 1991; July 1993, pp. 71-75, 92-93.

Stereo Review, August 1991.

Time, June 22, 1992, pp. 66-68; May 3, 1992, p. 81.

Other

Ice-T press release, Warner Bros./Sire 1991.

Simon Glickman

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"Ice-T 1958(?)–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Ice-T

Ice-T

Rapper, actor

From Crime to Rhyme

Original Gangsterand Actor

Warnings and Promises

Selected discography

Sources

Ice-T appeared on the music scene in 1987 with a new style: gangster rap, which offered rhymes about crime and street life in general in unflinching detail. His tough, groundbreaking records paved the way for the wave of younger gangster-rappers that included Ice Cube and N.W.A. Before his arrival on the scene, rappers devoted most of their lyrics to partying. Ice-T, an ex-criminal from South Central Los Angeles trying to go straight by way of his music, sang about what he knew: robbery, murder, pimps, hustlers, gangs, and prison. In his own words: I try to write about fun/And the good times/But the pen yanks away and explodes/And destroys the rhyme.

By the early 1990s, however, Ice-T had reached such a level of success as a recording artist and film star that his gangster image began to give way to that of a teacher. Newsweek referred to him as a foulmouthed moralist. Entertainment Weeklys James Bernard declared that Ice-T has something to teach anyone concerned about the rotting core of Americas cities. As his success broadened, Ice-T continued to sing about the streetbut with a determination to help black kids escape the ghetto and make white kids understand it. He also considered his financial future a matter of strategy: The name of the game is capitalism, reads a typical Ice-T quote from his publicity packet, and I aim to win that game, too.

From Crime to Rhyme

Ice-T was born Tracey Marrow in the late 1950she refused to release his birthdatein Newark, New Jersey. By the time he was in the seventh grade both his parents had died, and he went to live with an aunt in Los Angeles. While at Crenshaw High School, he wrote rhymes for local gangs and was soon drawn by his friends into petty crime. At age 17 he left his aunts home and, in his words, starting hanging out in the hood with my friends. By the early 1980s, Ice was also drawn to rap music, thanks to the success of artists like Kurtis Blow. In 1982 he recorded The Coldest Rap for an independent label and was paid twenty dollars for it.

Naturally, this kind of money was nothing compared to what he and his friends could make illegally. Although he claimed to have never been a gangbanger himself, he was close enough to see that world as a dead end. Eventually his friends starting being sent to prison. Then one of my buddies got life, he told Musician. And they were all calling me from jail, saying, this aint the place, homes. Stay with that rap. Stay down. He stayed with it, honing his style and landing a part as a rapper in the 1984 movie Breakin.

For the Record

Real name, Tracey Marrow (some sources say Morrow); born during the late 1950s in Newark, NJ; parents deceased during childhood; raised by an aunt in Los Angeles, CA.

Recording artist and film actor. Wrote rhymes for Los Angeles gangs in 1970s; recorded The Coldest Rap in 1982 for independent label; made film debut in 1984 movie Breakin; released first album, 1987; appeared in film New Jack City, 1991; cast in film Ricochet, 1991; joined Lollapalooza concert tour, 1991.

Addresses: Record company Sire Records, 75 Rockefeller Plaza, 20th Floor, New York, NY 10019-6979. Publicist Susan Blond, Inc., 250 West 57th St., Suite 622, New York, NY 10107.

In addition to the advice and admiration of his friends, Ice relied on his girlfriend Darlene, who stayed with him through the lean years and finally shared his success with him. Even though we were broke, Ice told Scott Cohen in Details, she knew that I could take five minutes out and go scam $20,000. I needed a girl who was ready to say, Dont do it, Ice. Its O.K. Darlene added that for a long time they were too broke to go to the movies: We just lived in one little room and paid rent. We didnt have a car for two years.

By the mid-1980s rap had grown from an urban phenomenon to a national one, but New York Citys rappers had a monopoly on street credentials. California, which had produced the good-natured surf pop of the Beach Boys and psychedelic rock bands like the Grateful Dead, hardly seemed a source of rhymes about urban strife. But Ice-Ts 1987 debut, Rhyme Pays, put South Central Los Angeles on the nations cultural map with its disturbing stories of inner-city warfare.

This new approach took the music community by storm; it also provoked charges from watchdog organizations like the Parents Music Resource Center and from critics on the political left and right that Ice glorified violence, theft, and sexism. Subject matter aside, he drew fireand the first warning sticker placed on a rap record, by his reckoningfor using profanity. No one has yet been able to explain to me the definition of profanity anyhow. I can think of ways to say stuffsaying things using legitimate words but in a contextthat makes a more profane comment than any bullshit swear words. The albums rap 6 in the Morning became particularly well-known, telling the story of a handful of gang members escaping the police.

Ice returned in 1988 with Power. The cover of the album featured a bikini-clad Darlene pointing a gun at the camera; Ice hadnt softened his approach. The album yielded two hits, High Rollers and Im Your Pusher. Ices face began to appear more regularly on MTV, and he contributed the title song to the soundtrack of the 1988 film Colors. His high-profile gangsterism provoked more attacks from various authorities, particularly when he began speaking to students in schools. In a discussion with Arion Berger in Creem, Ice presented his imitation of an FBI agent opposed to his school tours: He has a record here called, urn, Im Your Pusher. Well, have you played it? Oh, we dont have a phonograph here at the Bureau.

Ices frustration at attempts to suppress his music motivated a change of direction on his next LP, The Iceberg/Freedom of Speech Just Watch What You Say, released in 1989. A drawing of his face appeared on the cover with a gun to either side of his head and the barrel of another in his mouth. He enlisted punk politician and former Dead Kennedys lead singer Jello Biafra to deliver an announcement of right-wing martial law over a sampled piece of deathmetal guitar, setting the tone for a relentless counterattack on conservative thinking. The record also featured Peel Their Caps Back, which Berger called Ice-Ts most vicious criminal record so far.

Ice later reflected that the Iceberg album was too preoccupied with censorship and free expression. Sales were good on that album, he told Dennis Hunt of the Los Angeles Times, but [I can see where] some of the raps made some people think I was going soft. I just got caught up in messagesabout freedom of speech. People at the record company wanted me to do that and Im sorry that I listened to them. In the meantime, he added, the rising stars of gangster rap had upped the ante of street-tough rhyming. In 1991, though, he would come roaring to the forefront of the scene once again.

Original Gangsterand Actor

Ice-T landed the role of an undercover cop in the smash 1991 film New Jack City and his song New Jack Hustler appeared on the films soundtrack. He received excellent reviews for his acting in the film; Alan Light of Rolling Stone called his performance riveting. It was scary, Ice told Dave DiMartino of Entertainment Weekly. I didnt know how the actors were gonna react, and in music Im in my own domain. But when I got there, the first thing I found out was that they were, like, in awe of methey wanted, like, autographs and stuff. Soon he had signed on to play a drug dealer in another film, Ricochet.

Ices 1991 album O.G.Original Gangster contained twenty-four tracks of uncompromising and often violent raps. Rather than pursue the anti-censorship tack of the Iceberg album, O.G. returned to Ice-Ts earlier turf with a vengeance. The albums themes are summed up by titles like Straight Up Nigga, Prepared to Die, and Home of the Bodybag. Ices raps, though laced with the profanity of earlier records, had become tougher and leaner; Mic Contract likened rap competition to gang warfare and suggested that Ice-T was ready to face off with young gangster-rappers. The album also included a rock and roll song, Body Count, which was the name of the hardcore band he had assembled. Ice enlisted four different producers to work on the album, and DJ Evil E. provided the eclectic mix of beats and samples.

Reviews of O.G. were mostly very positive. Entertainment Weeklys James Bernard declared that Ice-T has something to teach anyone concerned about the rotting core of Americas biggest cities, and gave the album an A. Even as Jon Pareles of the New York Times acknowledged contradictions between Ices trigger-happy machismo and his increasing maturity, he remarked that [O.G.] works to balance the thrills of action and the demands of conscience. Its his candor that really draws blood, a notice in Musician commented, while Stereo Review insisted that Ice-T raps in lightning-quick, non-nonsense rhymes that cut to the bone with lack of pretense or apology. In his Rolling Stone review, Mark Coleman noted that O.G. can be heard as a careening, open-ended discussion. Of course Ice does tend to follow his sharpest points with defiant kiss-offs. But get past his bluster and this guy is full of forthright, inspiring perceptions.

Warnings and Promises

For its unsparing language and content, O.G. received a parental warning sticker; Coleman claimed that such warnings were like sticking a Band-Aid on a gunshot wound. Ice-Ts response to the sticker, in a quote which appeared in his publicity materials as well as ads for the album, was as follows: I have a sticker on my record that says Parental Guidance is Suggested. In my book, parental guidance is always suggested. If you need a sticker to tell you that you need to guide your child, youre a dumb fkin parent anyhow.

1991 also saw Ice-T join the ambitious traveling rock festival known as Lollapalooza. Organized by Perry Farrellwhose band, Janes Addiction, was the headlining attractionthe tour included such divergent acts as Black Rock Coalition founders Living Colour, the industrial dance outfit Nine Inch Nails, and British postpunk veterans Siouxie and the Banshees. As the only rapper on the tour, Ice-T faced Lollapaloozas predominantly white audiences with a positive attitude: All I want them to do is come out and say I like him. Not get the message, not understand a word Im saying. Just think, Those black guys on the stage I used to be scared of, I like em. I want to come out and say, Peace. If I can do that, thats cool. His participation in Lollapalooza attested to his belief that rap had the same rebellious and unifying quality that rock and roll had when it first appeared: White kids will continue to get hipper to black culture. With R&B, the kids didnt want to meet us, but this is rock & roll all over againeverybody chillin together.

Ice-T began as a controversial rapper in the late 1980s, throwing around gangster slang and strong language and provoking anxiety in many listeners. By the early 1990s, however, he had matured into a thoughtful, charismatic performer with strong careers in at least two media. Despite his newfound success, though, Ice insisted that he still made a lot of people nervous: Parents are scared because my record is Number One on the campus charts of Harvard for three months, reads a quote in his publicity packet. These kids are being trained to grow up and become Supreme Court justices and politicians.

Selected discography

Rhyme Pays (includes 6 in the Morning), Sire, 1987.

Power (includes High Rollers and Im Your Pusher), Sire, 1988.

(Contributor) Colors (motion picture soundtrack; includes Colors), Sire, 1988.

The Iceberg/Freedom of Speech Just Watch What You Say (includes Peel Their Caps Back), Sire, 1989.

(Contributor) New Jack City (motion picture soundtrack; includes New Jack Hustler), Sire, 1991.

O.G.Original Gangster (includes New Jack Hustler, Straight Up Nigga, Prepared to Die, Home of the Bodybag, Mic Contract, and Body Count), Sire, 1991.

Sources

Periodicals

Billboard, June 8, 1991.

Creem, April/May 1991.

Details, July 1991.

Entertainment Weekly, May 24, 1991; May 31, 1991.

Los Angeles Times, April 21, 1991.

Musician, June 1991; August 1991.

Newsweek, July 1, 1991.

The New York Times, May 19, 1991.

Rolling Stone, May 16, 1991; June 13, 1991; September 19, 1991.

The Source, May 1991.

Spin, May 1991.

Stereo Review, August 1991.

Other

Ice-T press release, Warner Bros./Sire, 1991.

Simon Glickman

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"Ice-T." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Ice-T." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 17, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/ice-t

"Ice-T." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved December 17, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/ice-t