photo & text by nacrowe
what i always loved about ICE-T is his AUTHENTICITY. he doesnt hide behind metaphors or character studies to get his point across. he is the very definition of unadorned directness. on an ICE-T (or even BODY COUNT) record, undoubtedly the main character is ICE-T and his street-level worldview. he has made a career on serving up hard truths. i remember reading that CHUCK D of PUBLIC ENEMY once said that "rap is CNN for black people" and i'd put ICE-T on a shortlist of similar acts from that period including MOBB DEEP, ICE CUBE and (of course) PUBLIC ENEMY who repeatedly detailed an unflinching account of the reality on the ground in urban BLACK AMERICA of POLICE BRUTALITY, the DRUG WAR and generational repercussions that come from a lack of access to economic and educational resources.
arguably this sober, no-punches-pulled sensibility found its early peak on his legendary OG: ORIGINAL GANGSTER (SIRE, 1991) album with seminal tracks "NEW JACK HUSTLER (NINO'S THEME)," "THE TOWER," "HOME OF THE BODYBAG," "ESCAPE FROM THE KILLING FIELDS" and, expectedly, "O.G. ORIGINAL GANGSTER." listening to an ICE-T record is an unrelenting experience as he attempt to lyrically to take you through a lived experience, one in which you definitely would not want to experience firsthand. there is a sense that this is the dark underbelly of the AMERICAN DREAM, one that our exploitive capitalist system doesnt want to acknowledge or give air time to. it is the the experience of the forgotten minorities that these systems seek to politically and economically muzzle or culturally disparage when convenient.
while his rhyme-style is a bit staid and repetitive next to the expert flows of peers like RAKIM or KRS-ONE and hasnt aged particularly well, in my estimation this is beside the point. it gets the job done. and unlike most of his contemporaries, ICE-T is still out there and still vital. his longtime BODY COUNT project, which mad its initial appearance on the "BODY COUNT" track off of O.G. ORIGINAL GANGSTER, is very much admired to date tackling current social ills like the seemingly endless senseless murders of BLACK males by racist white people filled with a deeply warped sense of IDENTITY, PRIVILEGE and AMERICAN HISTORY.
thank god this dude is still out there killing it. much respect to ICE-T and O.G. ORIGINAL GANGSTER is the perfect place to look into his catalogue. i'd also suggest the BODY COUNT BLOODLUST (CENTURY MEDIA, 2017) record as a bookend to such.
love this dude. seriously.