ICE-T ON PRICE OF POLITICAL SPEECH, OVERTHINKING HIP HOP, AND UNCOVENTIONAL MEANS TO HELP UNCONVENTIONAL YOUTH (MF GALAXY 070)



WHOSE OPINIONS ARE IRRELEVANT TO HIM, THOUGHTS ON WILL SMITH, WHAT HE DOESN’T PUT INTO HIS BODY, BEING AT THE MILLION MAN MARCH, RELATIONSHIP WITH FEMALE CRIMINALS

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Ice-T is one of the best-known artists from what is now widely known as the golden era of hip hop—the 1986 to 1992 span that saw the widest assortment of lyrical content and the climax of political and Africentric work. West coast artist Ice-T brought a mixture of allegedly autobiographical stories and fictional ballads named “crime rhymes,” while also engaging in incisive social commentary against racism, media, and government.

In 1992, Ice-T’s musical career nearly imploded under attacks from White police, Charlton Heston, Al Gore’s wife Tipper, US vice president Dan Quayle, and President George H.W. Bush. Ice-T’s heavy metal band Body Count released the revenge fantasy ballad “Cop Killer,” about brutal and murderous racist police.

Having survived the onslaught with the support of The National Black Police Association, Ice-T continued to grow his acting career, which had begun with the 1984 US film Breakin’, grew through 1991’s New Jack City, and later hit its height on television’s Law & Order: SVU.

In the year 2000, Ice-T performed in Edmonton at club then called Red’s. In this episode you’ll hear what he had to say, including:

  • How he’d changed over the years
  • The personal price of political speech
  • How hip hop is overintellectualised
  • Whose opinions are irrelevant for him
  • His experience of the Million Man March
  • The unconventional means needed to help unconventional youth
  • His ongoing relationship with female criminals
  • His thoughts on Will Smith
  • What he doesn’t put into his body, and
  • His reflective and hilarious stories of being a touring musician.
A few of notes: I have no way of knowing what claims Ice-T made of his past are actually true; creating a fictional onstage persona is almost as much a key element of hip hop as it is of pro-wrestling. At one point Ice-T describes having been a pimp; I don’t know if his claims are true, but certainly now as a husband and father, I marvel at my failure sixteen years ago to have asked him about the inherent depravity of such a degrading and misogynistic profession. You are a grown-up, so decide for yourself if you want to listen.

That being said, for those of you who subscribe to the EXTENDED EDITION PODCAST, you’ll hear the commentaries on Ice-T’s remarks, also recorded in the year 2000, by E-Town community activists Darren Jordan and Kelly Fraser.

Also, when I recorded this interview in the year 2000, I’d never heard of Kid Rock. That’s important to know to understand the sarcasm of Ice-T’s comment and my confusion at his answer.

Finally, Ice-T let me interview him immediately after his show. There’s no question that any artist, or speaker, walking offstage after an intense performance is in a mind-state that isn’t suited to honest reflection, but to spectacle and artifice. But note while you’re listening how Ice-T slowly calms, becoming quieter and possibly more sincere. He was generous with his time, and for that I thank him.

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