Ice-T has not lost taste for violence

Ice-T played detective Fin Tutuola in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
Ice-T played detective Fin Tutuola in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK• Ice-T claims that original copies of the album featuring Cop Killer are so rare that even he does not have one.

"The only way you can get it now is on YouTube," he said. "They're on Amazon and they're pretty expensive too."

Nearly 25 years ago, Ice-T (the hip-hop star born Tracy Marrow) and Body Count put out that deliberately over-the-top thrash-metal self-titled album in response to police brutality, prompting outrage from United States President George H.W. Bush and police groups everywhere. Eventually, he agreed to pull the song from new copies of the album.

Body Count, which release their sixth album, Bloodlust, on Friday, formed when Ice-T's Crenshaw high-school friend Ernie C needed an outlet to play impossibly fast guitar. Then well known for street- fighting hip-hop songs such as Colors and Lethal Weapon, Ice-T introduced the band to crowds on the 1991 Lollapalooza tour.

Now 59, he has gone on to portray one of television's longest-running police characters, Detective Fin Tutuola of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, a point that this Cop Killer singer notes with a rumbling laugh. On their first album since the 2014 LP Manslaughter, Body Count remain uncompromising, threatening horror-movie violence on The Ski Mask Way and pausing for political commentary on No Lives Matter.

Why was it important to include a discussion and defence of Black Lives Matter on the album?

Because I just felt people were confused. I tried to break it down in a way that you understood: We as black people are just trying to be treated as human beings.

Body Count have evolved from shocking to philosophical. On this album, you say, "The ability to kill is innate as our ability to love." Why?

I'm an older guy now and I see things. Your perspective is different. The early Body Count, I was much more angry, but I didn't know why. Now I'm trying to explain it. One guy told me the other day: "Ice, you're lucky because you've been able to see it from the poor man and the better-off man, and that's a view very few people get to see." Also, let's be real, when I came out, there was no Internet.

N.W.A made Straight Outta Compton, but you did West Coast gangster rap first. Do you ever think, "Where's my biopic?"

Nah, absolutely not. People were asking, "Was I out first?," and (Ice) Cube and them will tell you. Everybody knows. We used to tour together. I'm just glad the homies got their stories told. I have no desire to do a biopic. What if you do a biopic and nobody comes to see it? That's too risky for me.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 03, 2017, with the headline 'Ice-T has not lost taste for violence'. Print Edition | Subscribe