Ice-T Provides Some Rare Facts About The Song That Nearly Killed His Rap Career (Video)
This week, Ice-T’s Heavy Metal band Body Count will release their sixth album, Bloodlust. In doing so, the 35-year Rap pioneer is releasing his first full-length project in nearly three years. Just as Tracy Morrow does on TV, in film, and has always done in music, he strikes with a message. Last month, Body Count’s “No Lives Matter” music video shocked just as much as it rocked. The Original Gangsta sat down on Drink Champs with N.O.R.E. (as well as Capone) and DJ EFN to discuss his life and career, in one of the most unrestrained, truly captivating discussions Heads can get.
The two-and-a-half-hour conversation reaches its pinnacle with Ice-T breaking down his most controversial song, which happened to be with Body Count. 1992’s “Cop Killer” caused angry outcries from President George H. Bush, Vice President Dan Quayle, Oliver North, and a host of others. As the dust settled, Ice-T (one of Rap’s first major label stars) left the majors for the next 25 years. The recalled album and condemned song forced Ice-T underground, and arguably, into focusing on an acting career. Throughout the lengthy discussion, Ice sprinkles game about the record, with so many things many folks may not realize (from his influence on N.W.A.’s “Fuck Tha Police” to strain on his family and homelife caused by the record). The interview is followed by a bullet-point breakdown.
(30:00) Ice-T says that his young daughter was interrupted in class by the Secret Service while in school and interrogated about her father and his life. He also says that former Ronald Reagan advisor Oliver North wanted to try him for sedition, which is punishable by death.
(32:00) According to Ice, “Cop Killer” and his exodus from Warner Bros. is the reason that New Jack City 2 did not happen.
(33:00) T speaks about confronting Ray Benzino and his group Almighty R.S.O. for calling Ice-T a coward for removing “Cop Killer” from Body Count’s album. In turn, Ice-T says “he saw 200 niggas; I don’t know how many niggas I had. But I [basically] had the whole West Coast with me, right?” He says “they renigged,” but that it was a miscommunication. Notably, R.S.O. made similar themed 1992 video single, “Hellbound,” while signed to Flavor Unit/Tommy Boy/Warner Bros.
(36:00) “Cop Killer” was inspired by Talking Heads’ hit “Psycho Killer.” Ice was singing it in the studio (Talking Heads were his longtime label-mates at Sire/Warner Bros.), and then he adapted it to his situation at the encouragement of late Body Count drummer Beatmaster V.
(38:00) Applying it to 2017, the song and its controversy is deeply relevant to Ice-T. “It started with the Fraternal Order of the Police out of Austin, Texas. They came after me [before Charlton Heston and others followed]. Because, at the time, the cops were under siege for doing the same shit that they’re doing now. This was back then. The best way to take the heat off them is to attack somebody else. So they picked me…Let me date myself, we were sitting at the house playing Tecmo Bowl. One of my homies comes, ‘Yo, Ice right now the President is on TV talkin’ shit about you, son.’ For real! We changed the channel, and it was Dan Quayle, the Vice President [condemning me].”
(39:30) Ice-T says he was audited three times in two years by the IRS. He believes ice cream trucks and other decoys stayed outside his residence, keeping him under surveillance. “They were trying to figure out if I was really trying to call people to arms, which I wasn’t. It was just a record. It was a protest song.”
(57:00) Ice-T says that while N.W.A.’s “Fuck Tha Police” predates Body Count’s “Cop Killer” by nearly four years, he may have had a hand in that record: “Eazy and them were playin’ it before they dropped it. So I heard it on the radio, like, ‘Oh, y’all niggas about to go there.’ [Laughs] I used to say ‘fuck the police’ [at] my shows. Before I would do ‘6 ‘N The Mornin’,’ I would go out [on stage] and say, ‘Yo, the police told me I can’t do this song.’ Then I’d get the audience ‘pimped up’ and I was like, ‘Fuck the police!’ The crowd went crazy. So maybe a little light went off in Eazy’s head, ‘Ice got somethin’ right there!’ I had an echo [effect]; I’d say, ‘My name is Ice-T I got a rep like a killer (killer) / No one gets wilder, no one gets iller (iller) / I don’t get high, I don’t drink Miller (Miller) / But if your girl’s empty, I’m sure I can fill her (fill her) / I make stupid ass records ’cause I just don’t care / Mothafuckas can’t even play my shit on the air / But y’all know you like it, you say you want more / ‘Cause every time I leave the crib to go to the store / I hear, “six in the mornin’, police at my door…”.‘ That’s how we’d set that record up.”
(61:00) Like N.W.A., Ice-T had threats of police arrest at many of his 1980s concerts. “We were hardcore Rap; I had no idea that the police would intervene.” He continues, “We were already getting in trouble for cursing [at shows]. ‘If you curse, we’re gonna arrest you.’ You can’t curse. [Police] would show up at shows and show us that shit. What we’d do is, we’d do the show and the cops would be on the side. [We would curse anyway]. Then we’d turn the lights off and I’d jump off into the pit and run out the side door.”
Perhaps the most interesting thing Ice-T says about “Cop Killer” is the following:
“You know, [the government officials] don’t care about Hip-Hop. Hip-Hop can back you, but when Hip-Hop backs you, Hip-Hop is one big nigga. It’s just one nigga! I don’t give a fuck how many rappers come to your aid, that’s just one nigga. You need someone outside of Hip-Hop to back you. All of Rap can ban together, we are all just one nigga! You need maybe Quincy Jones to come out, who’s not considered a nigga. [If a Hip-Hop star comes out] they’ll see, ‘Well, he’s still a rapper,’ and they’ll throw him over there. You need someone outside: Martin Scorsese or something to back you up. You need someone who’s unexpected to back you. So anyway, I took the heat and I rode it out. I didn’t bring anybody else into it. I didn’t say, ‘Hey, this Rap group or Rock group…,’ I just handled it myself. I was raised by Gs, and I still adhere to that code. ‘That’s your drama, so you deal with it.’ So I dealt with it.”
Body Count’s Bloodlust releases this Friday.