May 2011 marks the 20th anniversary of what I feel was Ice-T‘s best album, O.G. Original Gangster. I will share my opinions on the album later this month, but today as I’m clearing out some junk, I found a press release I completely forgot about. It was sent to the media in anticipation of the album, a way to drive-up a bit of hype. The first page of the press release is a message from Ice-T, while the remainder of it talks about the album and his touring plans, which was the Lollapalooza festival and dates with Jane’s Addiction (both would collaborate in a cover of Sly & The Family Stone‘s “Don’t Call Me Nigger, Whitey”.)
The message from Ice was called My Predictions For The ’90s and its telling because while the outlook was for the next nine years, one can also look back and see what has happened in the last 20 years. These were his predictions:
*** White kids will continue to get hipper to black culture. With R&B, the kids didn’t want to meet us, but this is rock & roll all over again — everybody chillin’ together.
*** Somebody asked me, ‘”Where did you get your acting experience?’ And I said it was probably standing in front of a cop in the middle of the night with a flashlight in my face: ‘No officer, oh no, no no officer…’
*** I have a sticker on my record that says ‘Parental Guidance Is Suggested.’ In my book, parental guidance is always suggested. If you need a sticker to tell you that you need to guide your child, you’re a dumb fuckin’ parent anyhow.
*** The war that’s coming up is an intellectual war. Those with superior intellects are on the move.
*** I never make love records. If I do a ballad, it’s ‘Let’s Get Butt Naked And Fuck.’
*** Parents are scared because my record is Number One on the campus charts of Harvard for three months. These kids are being trained to grow up and become supreme court justices and politicians.
*** For a long time, nobody thought you had to have talent to rap. They figured it was like walking, something that just came naturally to us ghetto boys.
*** To me, music is like religion. It shouldn’t be argued. If it makes you feel good, it’s your business.
*** Two million kids buy my records and they ain’t playin’ me on the radio. What’s that say?
*** The name of the game is capitalism, and I aim to win that game too.
Again, this was sent to the media in May 1991. Twenty years later, Ice-T has become a successful actor, has just released his second book, and is about to take part in a reality show with his wife, Coco. He’s an avid gamer, still speaks freely and yet still watches what he says, but now within the context of Twitter.
20 years ago, KRS-One told everyone “I am hip-hop” and that was the split between the “old school” of rap and turning the community of fans and creators into something between quotes. You could be “hip-hop” and validate yourself. Ice-T may have noticed this and was like nah, fuck that, I do what I do but I’m going to remain me. In fact, the last sentence on the release of his then-forthcoming 1991 album reads:
Committed, controversial, consistently creative, Ice-T is, in short, totally O.G.
The album cover showed the duality of his reality: he worked hard to have his own home in the hills with his then-wife Darlene, he had the fishes, the dogs, the cars. He could pimp himself out because he made the money to make it happen. Yet for all intents and purposes, the reality was that his non-fans will always view him as a criminal, a hood, someone worth incarcerating. You didn’t like how Ice-T was living? As he said in “New Jack Hustler”, fuck you. He remains Ice-T and then, as now, he has no reason to lie to you.