Friday, May 17, 2019

Ice T

Tracy Lauren Marrow (born February 16, 1958), better known by his stage name Ice-T, is an American musician, rapper, songwriter, actor, record producer, and author. He began his career as an underground rapper in the 1980s and was signed to Sire Records in 1987, when he released his debut album Rhyme Pays; the second hip-hop album to carry an explicit content sticker after Slick Rick's La Di Da Di. The following year, he founded the record label Rhyme $yndicate Records (named after his collective of fellow hip-hop artists called the "Rhyme $yndicate") and released another album, Power, which went on to go Platinum. He also released several other albums that went Gold.

He co-founded the heavy metal band Body Count, which he introduced on his 1991 rap album O.G.: Original Gangster, on the track titled "Body Count". The band released their self-titled debut album in 1992. Ice-T encountered controversy over his track "Cop Killer", which glamorized killing police officers. Ice-T asked to be released from his contract with Warner Bros. Records, and his next solo album, Home Invasion, was released later in February 1993 through Priority Records. Body Count's next album was released in 1994, and Ice-T released two more albums in the late-1990s. Since 2000, he has portrayed NYPD Detective/Sergeant Odafin Tutuola on the NBC police drama Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

Tracy Lauren Marrow, son of Solomon and Alice Marrow, was born in Newark, New Jersey. Solomon was African-American, and Alice was Creole. For decades, Solomon worked as a conveyor belt mechanic at the Rapistan Conveyor Company. When Marrow was a child, his family moved to upscale Summit, New Jersey. The first time race played a major part in Marrow's life was at the age of seven, when he became aware of the racism leveled by his white friends towards black children. Marrow surmised that he escaped similar treatment because they thought that he was white due to his lighter skin. Relaying this incident to his mother, she told him, "Honey, people are stupid;" her advice and this incident taught Marrow to control the way the negativity of others affected him.

His mother died of a heart attack when he was in third grade. Solomon raised Marrow as a single father for four years, with help from a housekeeper. Marrow's first experience with illicit activity occurred after a bicycle that his father bought him for Christmas was stolen. After Marrow told his father, Solomon shrugged, "Well, then, you ain't got no bike." Marrow stole parts from bicycles and assembled "three or four weird-looking, brightly-painted bikes" from the parts; his father either did not notice or never acknowledged this. When Marrow was twelve years old, Solomon died of a heart attack. For many years, AllMusic.com has stated that his parents "died in an auto accident", but Ice-T has stated that it was actually he who had been in a car accident, and that it was decades later.

Following his father's death, the orphaned Marrow lived with a nearby aunt briefly, then was sent to live with his other aunt and her husband in View Park-Windsor Hills, an upper middle-class Black neighborhood in South Los Angeles.[9] While his cousin Earl was preparing to leave for college, Marrow shared a bedroom with him. Earl was a fan of rock music and listened only to the local rock radio stations; sharing a room with him sparked Marrow's interest in heavy metal music.

Marrow moved to the Crenshaw District of Los Angeles when he was in the eighth grade. He attended Palms Junior High, which was predominantly made up of white students, and included black students who travelled by bus from South Central to attend. He then attended Crenshaw High School, which was almost entirely made up of black students.

Marrow stood out from most of his friends because he did not drink alcohol, smoke tobacco, or use drugs. During Marrow's time in high school, gangs became more prevalent in the Los Angeles school system. Students who belonged to the Crips and Bloods gangs attended Crenshaw, and fought in the school's hallways. Marrow, while never an actual gang member, was affiliated with the former. Marrow began reading the novels of Iceberg Slim, which he memorized and recited to his friends, who enjoyed hearing the excerpts and told him, "Yo, kick some more of that by Ice, T", giving Marrow his famous nickname. Marrow and other Crips wrote and performed "Crip Rhymes".

His music career started with the band of the singing group The Precious Few of Crenshaw High School. Marrow and his group opened the show, dancing to a live band. The singers were Thomas Barnes, Ronald Robinson and Lapekas Mayfield.

In 1975, at the age of seventeen, Marrow began receiving Social Security benefits resulting from the death of his father and used the money to rent an apartment for $90 a month. He sold cannabis and stole car stereos to earn extra cash, but he was not making enough to support his pregnant girlfriend. Once his daughter was born, he joined the United States Army in October 1977. Marrow served a two-year and two month tour in the 25th Infantry Division and was associated with a group of soldiers charged with the theft of a rug. While awaiting trial, he received a $2,500 bonus check and went absent without leave, returning a month later, after the rug had been returned. Marrow received a non-judicial punishment as a consequence of his dereliction of duty.

During his spell in the Army, Marrow became interested in hip hop music. He heard The Sugar Hill Gang's newly released single "Rapper's Delight" (1979), which inspired him to perform his own raps over the instrumentals of this and other early hip-hop records. The music, however, did not fit his lyrics or form of delivery.

When he was stationed in Hawaii (where prostitution was not a heavily prosecuted crime) as a squad leader at Schofield Barracks, Marrow met a pimp named Mac. Mac admired that Marrow could quote Iceberg Slim and he taught Marrow how to be a pimp himself. Marrow was also able to purchase stereo equipment cheaply in Hawaii, including two Technics turntables, a mixer, and large speakers. Once equipped, he then began to learn turntablism and rapping.

Towards the end of his tenure in the Army, Marrow learned from his commanding officer that he could receive an honorable discharge because he was a single father, so he was discharged in December 1979.

During an episode of The Adam Carolla Podcast that aired on June 6, 2012, Marrow claimed that after being discharged from the Army, he began a career as a bank robber. Marrow claimed he and some associates began conducting take-over bank robberies "like [in the film] Heat." Marrow then elaborated, explaining, "Only punks go for the drawer, we gotta go for the safe." Marrow also stated he was glad the United States justice system has statutes of limitations, which had likely expired when Marrow admitted to his involvement in multiple Class 1 Felonies in the early-to-mid 1980s.

After leaving the Army, Marrow wanted to stay away from gang life and violence and instead make a name for himself as a disc jockey. As a tribute to Iceberg Slim, Marrow adopted the stage name Ice-T. While performing as a DJ at parties, he received more attention for his rapping, which led Ice-T to pursue a career as a rapper. After breaking up with his girlfriend Caitlin Boyd, he returned to a life of crime and robbed jewelry stores with his high school friends. Ice-T's raps later described how he and his friends pretended to be customers to gain access before smashing the display glass with baby sledgehammers.

Ice-T's friends Al P. and Sean E. Sean went to prison. Al P. was caught in 1982 and sent to prison for robbing a high-end jewelry store in Laguna Niguel for $2.5 million in jewelry. Sean was arrested for possession of not only cannabis, which Sean sold, but also material stolen by Ice-T. Sean took the blame and served two years in prison. Ice-T stated that he owed a debt of gratitude to Sean because his prison time allowed him to pursue a career as a rapper. Concurrently, he wound up in a car accident and was hospitalized as a John Doe because he did not carry any form of identification due to his criminal activities. After being discharged from the hospital, he decided to abandon the criminal lifestyle and pursue a professional career rapping. Two weeks after being released from the hospital, he won an open mic competition judged by Kurtis Blow





In 1982, Ice-T met producer Willie Strong from Saturn Records. In 1983, Strong recorded Ice-T's first single, "Cold Wind Madness", also known as "The Coldest Rap", an electro hip-hop record that became an underground success, becoming popular even though radio stations did not play it due to the song's hardcore lyrics.[16] That same year, Ice-T released "Body Rock", another electro hip-hop single that found popularity in clubs. Ice-T then was a featured rapper on "Reckless", a single by DJ Chris "The Glove" Taylor and (co-producer) David Storrs. This song was almost immediately followed up with a sequel entitled "Reckless Rivalry (Combat)", which was featured in the Breakin' sequel, Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo, however it was never featured on the soundtrack album and, to this day, has never been released. Ice later recorded the songs "Ya Don't Quit" and "Dog'n the Wax (Ya Don't Quit-Part II)" with Unknown DJ, who provided a Run–D.M.C.-like sound for the songs.

Ice-T received further inspiration as an artist from Schoolly D's gangsta rap single "P.S.K. What Does It Mean?", which he heard in a club. Ice-T enjoyed the single's sound and delivery, as well as its vague references to gang life, although the real life gang, Park Side Killers, was not named in the song.

Ice-T decided to adopt Schoolly D's style, and wrote the lyrics to his first gangsta rap song, "6 in the Mornin'", in his Hollywood apartment, and created a minimal beat with a Roland TR-808. He compared the sound of the song, which was recorded as a B-Side on the single "Dog'n The Wax", to that of the Beastie Boys. The single was released in 1986, and he learned that "6 in the Mornin'" was more popular in clubs than its A-side, leading Ice-T to rap about Los Angeles gang life, which he described more explicitly than any previous rapper. He intentionally did not represent any particular gang, and wore a mixture of red and blue clothing and shoes to avoid antagonizing gang-affiliated listeners, who debated his true affiliation.

Ice-T finally landed a deal with a major label Sire Records. When label founder and president Seymour Stein heard his demo, he said, "He sounds like Bob Dylan." Shortly after, he released his debut album Rhyme Pays in 1987 supported by DJ Evil E, DJ Aladdin and producer Afrika Islam, who helped create the mainly party-oriented sound. The record wound up being certified gold by the RIAA. That same year, he recorded the title theme song for Dennis Hopper's Colors, a film about inner-city gang life in Los Angeles. His next album Power was released in 1988, under his own label Rhyme Syndicate, and it was a more assured and impressive record, earning him strong reviews and his second gold record. Released in 1989, The Iceberg/Freedom of Speech... Just Watch What You Say established his popularity by matching excellent abrasive music with narrative and commentative lyrics. In the same year, he appeared on Hugh Harris's single "Alice".

In 1991, he released his album O.G. Original Gangster, which is regarded as one of the albums that defined gangsta rap. On OG, he introduced his heavy metal band Body Count in a track of the same name. Ice-T toured with Body Count on the first annual Lollapalooza concert tour in 1991, gaining him appeal among middle-class teenagers and fans of alternative music genres. The album Body Count was released in March 1992. For his appearance on the heavily collaborative track "Back on the Block", a composition by jazz musician Quincy Jones that "attempt[ed] to bring together black musical styles from jazz to soul to funk to rap", Ice-T won a Grammy Award for the Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group, an award shared by others who worked on the track including Jones and fellow jazz musician Ray Charles.

Controversy later surrounded Body Count over its song "Cop Killer". The rock song was intended to speak from the viewpoint of a criminal getting revenge on racist, brutal cops. Ice-T's rock song infuriated government officials, the National Rifle Association and various police advocacy groups. Consequently, Time Warner Music refused to release Ice-T's upcoming album Home Invasion because of the controversy surrounding "Cop Killer". Ice-T suggested that the furor over the song was an overreaction, telling journalist Chuck Philips "...they've done movies about nurse killers and teacher killers and student killers. Arnold Schwarzenegger blew away dozens of cops as the Terminator. But I don't hear anybody complaining about that." In the same interview, Ice-T suggested to Philips that the misunderstanding of Cop Killer, the misclassification of it as a rap song (not a rock song), and the attempts to censor it had racial overtones: "The Supreme Court says it's OK for a white man to burn a cross in public. But nobody wants a black man to write a record about a cop killer."

Ice-T split amicably with Sire/Warner Bros. Records after a dispute over the artwork of the album Home Invasion. He then reactivated Rhyme Syndicate and formed a deal with Priority Records for distribution. Priority released Home Invasion in the spring of 1993. The album peaked at #9 on Billboard magazine's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and at #14 on the Billboard 200, spawning several singles including "Gotta Lotta Love", "I Ain't New To This" and "99 Problems" – which would later inspire Jay-Z to record a version with new lyrics in 2003.

Ice-T had also collaborated with certain other heavy metal bands during this time period. For the film Judgment Night, he did a duet with Slayer on the track "Disorder". In 1995, Ice-T made a guest performance on Forbidden by Black Sabbath. Another album of his, VI – Return of the Real, was released in 1996, followed by The Seventh Deadly Sin in 1999.

His first rap album since 1999, Gangsta Rap, was released on October 31, 2006. The album's cover, which "shows [Ice-T] lying on his back in bed with his ravishing wife's ample posterior in full view and one of her legs coyly draped over his private parts", was considered to be too suggestive for most retailers, many of which were reluctant to stock the album. Some reviews of the album were unenthusiastic, as many had hoped for a return to the political raps of Ice-T's most successful albums.

Ice-T appears in the film Gift. One of the last scenes includes Ice-T and Body Count playing with Jane's Addiction in a version of the Sly and the Family Stone song "Don't Call Me Nigger, Whitey."

Besides fronting his own band and rap projects, Ice-T has also collaborated with other hard rock and metal bands, such as Icepick, Motörhead, Slayer, Pro-Pain, and Six Feet Under. He has also covered songs by hardcore punk bands such as The Exploited, Jello Biafra, and Black Flag. Ice-T made an appearance at Insane Clown Posse's Gathering of the Juggalos (2008 edition). Ice-T was also a judge for the 7th annual Independent Music Awards to support independent artists. His 2012 film Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap features a who's who of underground and mainstream rappers.

In November 2011, Ice-T announced via Twitter that he was in the process of collecting beats for his next LP which was expected sometime during 2012, but as of October 2014, the album has not been released. A new Body Count album, Bloodlust, was released in 2017. After the release of the album, responding to an interview question asking if he's "done with rap", he answered "I don't know" and noted that he's "really leaning more toward EDM right now".


Albums

Rhyme Pays (1987)
Power (1988)
The Iceberg/Freedom of Speech...Just Watch What You Say (1989)
O.G. Original Gangster (1991)
Home Invasion (1993)
Ice-T VI: Return of the Real (1996)
The Seventh Deadly Sin (1999)
Gangsta Rap (2006)


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