Before the reality shows, the movies, wifing up Coco and basically becoming a OG. There was a time ago(20 years ago to be exact) when Ice T was possibly one of the most FEARED artists in America. During the time where Freedom of Speech were becoming the main attacks of most politician’s agendas, Ice T was one of those artists that not only refused to back down from the powers that be. He also made some heavy ground breaking music and was apart of the building process of what rap music would eventually become.
“Radio Suckers never play me”
What very few people don’t know is that Ice T didn’t start off as a gangsta rapper. He actually caught his first break in the movie Breakin as a break dancer and started rapping about having fun and partying on records.
Ice said himself that his people came to him and gave him the game that was gonna change his career: Talk about how WE ARE LIVING. The hood where Ice T surfaced from was becoming an everyday warzone. Everything to Gangs, Drugs, Sex, Violence, prostitution, Poverty, Pain were plaguing South Central like a plague and people looked at Ice as their spokesperson to express their way of life to the microphone. Ice’s career would forever be changed.
Success with Colors
The more Ice started talking about what he saw as “reality” the more popular his records would become. His debut album Rhyme Pays which was released in 1987 quickly went Gold not only because of 6 Morning but mainly because of his contribution to the Oliver Stone movie Colors which was the soundtracks lead single. This was HUGE at the time because a gangsta rapper having a main single for a Oliver Stone movie was unheard of.
Ice continued to push the buttons and fight for freedom of speech with albums such as Power and Iceberg/Freedom of Speech What You say. Ice continued to drop alot of knowledge along with reality based raps which further increased his popularity with not only the streets but also Rock and Roll fans because they felt that the Powers that Be were trying to censor them so they aligned themselves with Ice in the fight.
O.G. Original Gangster
As the 90s came. The fight between politicians and the music industry became much more nastier. Ice’s peers Ice Cube, Paris, NWA, Public Enemy and the Geto Boys were already targeted for their abrasive unpatriotic comments and Ice was gonna face more of the same as he released possibly his most controversal album titled O.G. The Original Gangster.
Ice talks about everything from the N word usage, The crabs in the bucket mentality from black folks, the harsh realities behind prison, police brutality, and the player life. O.G. would also remain as Ice T’s best work to date and 1991 became much better as he snagged a lead role in the classic hood crime cinema New Jack City. The critics were doing nothing but letting Ice laugh all the way to the bank.
Ice T has always been a fan of hard rock so it was only right for him to form his own band and take a shot at the Rock Scene. This is where Ice started becoming a serious threat to the establishment. Not only because he became more successful in the rap world and landed acting gigs in hollywood for “gangsta rap” Now he was gonna take his vision and express the hardship of the suppressed into what would consider be a white man’s genre. ROCK.
He did just that with the song Cop Killer. Cop Killer was basically Fuck the Police the heavy metal version but this time Ice could have possibly caused a serious uproar and have police fearing for their lives. Their were already racial tensions due to the Rodney King beating, So Ice only threw more gasoline in the fire with this cut here and it couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. Ice would even do a Rolling Stone Cover in a police uniform to further piss off his critics.
Ice T just like Public Enemy when they start crossing into Heavy Metal or hard Rock. They start becoming more powerful because its clear that their messages are now being heard from not just the black community but now being exposed to the world. The record was so controversal that President George Bush Sr, Vice President Dan Quayle, Tipper Gore, and CLEAT(Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas) called for a boycott of anything related to Time Warner and demanded Ice T to be kicked off the label. Time Warner eventually cave in under to the heavy pressure and released Ice T from the label.
Ice was obviously pissed and bitter behind the whole fallout. He was pissed at his label for punking out and leaving him out the dry when they pulled his record. Ice was pissed at the fact that he felt that his critics won the battle and he was in a constant fight to protect his vision of what his music should be. So Ice took the money that he had already acquired from both music and acting and started his own label Rhyme Syndicate records and received distribution from Priority. Now Ice was able to speak his mind and it was about to be no holds barred.
The battle with his previous label seemed to have worn then on Ice’s creativity as an artist and you can tell by listening to this album that his raps weren’t as focused as they once were before. He also had to play by the rules once again in terms of getting the album released due to the fact that the Rodney King riots were fresh, an election involving Bill Clinton and George Bush Sr was coming up and his peers Dr Dre, Tupac Shakur and Ice Cube were already subjects to controversal lyrics in their music.
Home Invasion overall was a great album despite how many critics felt. Ice still had alot to say in this album and he never once changed his whole style up to fit what was going on at the moment. Especially when you hear records such as Race War, 99 Problems, and Its On. Many felt that Ice’s career went on a downward spiral after this album but thats mainly because of the fact that by the time the album was released, Political rap took a backseat.
Ice T 20 years later
Ice T is happily married with his wife of 10 years Coco. He has since released many movies, books, albums, done lectures and still tour with his rock band when he finds the time. It’s good to see that despite being blackballed, having his music career stall due to politics that he’s still alive and living good because many artists would have died either broke or been killed. Salute Ice for fighting the good fight and still keeping it real to this day.