By Brian Ives
If you get a chance to sit down with Ice-T—born Tracy Marrow—you’ll quickly realize that his personality and philosophy veer from the list of usual assumed talking points — i.e. the “Cop Killer” controversy, early gangster rapper, Law and Order.
Over the course of our interview, Ice delved into topics such as the decline of manhood (hence the title of his metal band Body Count‘s new album, Manslaughter), his support of veteran’s causes (he is, in fact, a vet), the importance of work (even if it’s illegal) and why you have to watch out that you don’t get “Oprahed.”
We did eventually get on the topic of the police, to which Ice-T said, “Cops are human beings.” It seems that at 56 years old, it’s really the men of today whom Ice has beef with. He’d like to see them just stand up and express their opinions, but for now, he’s going to attempt to do it all on his own. “I’m just trying to put balls back into music.”
Radio.com: What inspired the song “Manslaughter”?
Ice-T: I’m just looking at manhood now. People are afraid to have an opinion. If they have an opinion, they might lose some ‘likes’ on Facebook! It’s the ‘p—y-ification’ of males. I’m not talking about gay men. I’m not talking about women. I’m talking about men not standing up, having some balls, and being about something. I just miss that aggression in the rock days when I was coming up, bands that were about something. I’m from the era of Rage Against the Machine, they opened for us here in New York. Punk, Black Flag. You couldn’t just come on stage and yell, you had to push something. Maybe I’m just trying to put balls back into music.
Hip-hop also seems to have lost its aggression over the years.
It’s gone. Right now, hip-hop is basically materialistic bulls–t. A pop bubble full of bulls–t. You’re creating this belief that everybody’s drinking champagne and driving around in Maybachs. But the majority of them aren’t. The [artists] who aren’t, are faking it. They’re basically turning into the people we hated when we started to rap. The people who flaunted their money and threw it at you. We’re turning into that. In rap, there’s room for songs about nonsense, there’s room for songs about clubbin’, but there’s also room to make change. You’ve got to have something in the lyrics that is about something. Even on this album, Manslaughter, it isn’t a political record, I don’t even reference the government. Some of the songs have no meaning…but then there are songs that are about something. That’s missing in hip-hop.
“I Will Always Love You” is about veterans. You’ve gotten involved with the organization Veterans Matter, and you’re a vet, but that’s not that well known.
Yeah, I’m a vet, I always wanted to do a song about the military experience, and I wanted to do it with military jargon so the vets would feel it. Like, if you do a song about prison, and you can talk the lingo, then cats know you’ve been to the joint. So, when I’m talking about ‘A.I.T.’—that’s Advanced Individual Training—or ‘downrange’—that’s what they call it when you go to war—all the different terms that I use, it’s my way of saying, ‘I’m talking your language, guys.’ My thing is, whether we’re misdirected in our wars, or whether we’re fighting for the wrong thing, you’ve still got to respect the kids going over there, they believe they’re doing the right thing. They’re nineteen, they’re 20, they’re 25, they’re coming home with their legs blown off, now they can’t even find a place to live, they’re unemployed. It’s a sad state. Our government will have you risk your life, and when you come home, there’s no reward. They turn their back on you. It’s like, if you’re not gonna re-enlist, we don’t care about you anymore.