Ice T/ Interview by Scott Bejda

Ice T/ Interview by Scott Bejda/ photos by black dog bone

What can your fans expect on your new album, “Gangsta Rap”?


Really it is a traditional Ice-T album. I didn’t go out of my way to try to fit in with the way that rap music sounds today because I am not extremely crazy about a lot of the new rap. I am just going to do what I do and keep it Gangsta. Try to give a little bit more information than a lot of these records give and drop the game like I do.


Can you compare this to your earlier records like “Original Gangster” or would you say that it is on a whole different level?


It is comparable to a lot of my earlier stuff, but I would say that it’s a little bit more wiser. I try to grow with my records and if you listen to “Rhyme Pays” that is me right out of the hood out of control. At this point I have observed a lot of things and I have learned a lot of things, so this album should be a lot more mature than my earlier work. But I am still the same cat, just have seen more things and learned a little more. I’ve always had truth in my music and this new record is on the same level because I try to kick the real. Even if you don’t like a certain record that I have done, you will still have to say that what I said was real. It’s important to have truth in your music!


What about the production this time around? Were you able to have Evil E produce any of the beats?


Evil-E was not producing this year. We were in New York, and I worked with a kid named Justin out of Virginia who is a new young producer. I used some of the Syndicate cats like DJ Ace, who’s been working for me for years. I also got production from Mark Live, who actually rapped some of the records with me too. I’ve never been a cat who has been real crazy about going after the big name super producers because I go after the cats who is just making good music. Good music is just good music and you don’t have to be Neptunes or something.


A lot of big name producers to me are overrated and overpaid!


Well, definitely overpaid because they get paid a lot of money before the record even comes out. They are dealing with a lot of major artists who have a lot of budget money. I was smarter with my money even when I was back with a major. If I take a track and tell you Just Blaze did it and you will like it more, but if I tell you some unknown kid did it people tend to say, “Well I don’t know.” The name has a lot to do with it. The only producer who I feel is really worth some money is Dr. Dre.




it is just how it happens. Fortunately I have been through a lot of shit and I have drawn from those experiences. That’s what I brought into my music and that’s what I bring into my work. It is the reality of what a lot of people think is cool like, “Yo, I want to be out here and hustle and I want to pimp…” I can tell you the end result to that because I have been there.




Where did your business savvy come from?


I don’t really have any family and I have been homeless before, so every dollar means a lot to me. You love the music, but at the end of the day you are trying to make a few dollars too. You can’t go out here and spend a million dollars making an album because now that has created a situation to where you have to sell a million records to just break even and that is very hard to do. You see a lot of these artists that have extreme promotion and these elaborate videos but they don’t actually break even. Once the label gets tired of them they got to send everything back where they got it from and the game’s over. When I was on a major I used to get half a million dollars to cut an album and I would still cut my album for fifty grand!


Then you would pocket the rest?


I would get the rest and then I would invest it to do things to where I would make more money and be able to make it last. You don’t have to spend all of that money and go into a recording studio and go to sleep. You should be more wise with your money!



He made twelve million dollars making “XXX” and he ain’t broke. You got fans that want to hear your music and you are a rapper and you love doing it. If you got 500,000 fans, 100,000 fans, or 10,000 fans, fuck it! Make the music so, like you say, they can get their fix.



What kinds of things would you invest in?


The only thing that I would really invest in was real estate. I’d buy a house verses renting. I’m a sucker for cars and you never make money with them. You always lose, but you enjoy yourself. If there’s any vice that I have it’s cars because I always liked cars. But once I started buying houses and living in them, then selling them, I was able to make money because real estate constantly goes up in value. That’s the only thing I have ever really been able to make money with, because business is money you could make money for two or three years and then lose your shirt.


What inspired you to make films and get into acting?


I was offered it! I had no acting experience or anything! Back in the day when they did “New Jack City” I was doing the Ice-T stuff. There was just a lack of young Black actors and they were trying to do it. Wesley Snipes at the time had only done one previous movie, which was “Major League”, I guess they felt that Denzel wasn’t at the right age bracket for what they were trying to do. Somebody said why don’t they try to go to these rappers because they have sold millions of records. After “New Jack City” offers just came!




I just took it for granted and was like “Yeah, I’m in the movies, whatever.” But now I’m serious about getting my jobs. Will Smith is making twenty million dollars a movie so this is a serious game. Sometimes I think that maybe my whole Rap career was an audition for acting because of how everything just fell right into place for me.




You are in millions of homes every week on your show “Law And Order”! Even if you don’t put out a record for a couple of years you are still seen and heard by more people than any rapper!


I just took it for granted and was like “Yeah, I’m in the movies, whatever.” But now I’m serious about getting my jobs. Will Smith is making twenty million dollars a movie so this is a serious game. Sometimes I think that maybe my whole Rap career was an audition for acting because of how everything just fell right into place for me.


What if everything didn’t fall into place like that, do you ever think about shit like that?


It is just how it happens. Fortunately I have been through a lot of shit and I have drawn from those experiences. That’s what I brought into my music and that’s what I bring into my work. It is the reality of what a lot of people think is cool like, “Yo, I want to be out here and hustle and I want to pimp…” I can tell you the end result to that because I have been there.



Me personally I would never put no jewelry on my body that can’t come out, because if muthafuckaz put their robbery game down you could end up with your fuckin head bashed in.



Nowadays a lot of kids want to be a gangsta or a pimp when they grow up. What do you have to say to those people?


I understand why they want to because you can’t look at Scarface and not admire Tony Montana. Gangsters are very flamboyant and live a very seductive lifestyle. But the flip side to it is more violent and more scary and more painful than you could possibly imagine. With my music I accept the flamboyancy of it, because you can’t tell nobody that a pimp with five bad bitches coming out of a car ain’t exciting looking. You can’t tell a kid that it doesn’t look good because it does look good. The fact of the matter is you could end up dead very easily or spend the rest of your life in the penitentiary. I got friends who are spending the rest of their living days in the penitentiary behind that lifestyle. To tell you the truth it is exciting looking and it could be fun for a minute but like Ice Cube says “You Laugh Now, And Cry Later.” When you are out in the streets you can get that quick cash but it can all be gone in the blink of an eye. People have to look at both sides of everything and then make your decision. You can’t just jump into something you don’t fully know about and expect everything to be in your favor. You have to weigh your options and make sure you fully understand what you’re doing.



but on the other side I got the fans who are like, “Fuck that other bullshit!” I was talking to somebody the other day in an interview and I asked them if they could really name the last important Rap record? I used the word important! Back in the day Public Enemy made an important record, and KRS-One made important records that really changed people’s lives. I can’t even name an important Rap record! With the records there is nothing that has any concepts to where you give a fuck.



The cover of the CD is outrageous, to say the least! How did you and Coco come up with the concept for the cover?


I was just laying in the bed thinking to myself and I was saying, “How much more gangsta can you get?” I’m laying in bed, I got a beautiful wife on my CD butt naked, fuck you! I don’t need to say it with no cars and I don’t need to say it with no money. Because the end result of the game, once you have sold the drugs and did all that shit, that is where you want to be. I felt like if I had done the same picture with three girls it wouldn’t have been the same or if I had used a model it would not have been the same. Due to the fact that’s my real wife and that’s really my bed, I said “Yo, yo that’s it, that’s real!” And we just called the CD “Gangsta Rap” and put a picture frame around it because this is a classic picture that people are going to be talking about for years. It’s so simple.

but then why haven’t you seen it before?





You would think someone would have thought of that years ago!


John Lennon and Yoko Ono tried that, but it wasn’t like Coco! In the movie “Super Fly” there is one scene where Priest is laid up in the bed with this White girl laying on his chest, and he is talking about getting out of the game. That picture just stuck in my head. I was thinking “This nigga is fly!” I woke up one day and I was looking at myself saying, “Damn, you kind of did it and if you go to your first record you did what you said you was going to do!” I think that is the key to Ice-T. If I had talked it and not been semi-successful at the end of the game, I was full of shit. But the truth of the matter is I pulled it off. I pulled off the big robbery and made it out of the hood. Like 50 Cent said “ I rapped my way up out the hood, imagine that!”


it gets to the point to where it gets corny and it gets redundant so I try to step away from that. I had a long talk with Nas because his new album is called “Hiphop is Dead”. Back in the day when rappers made records and we all had respect for each other. You couldn’t talk too much about what you got. You could say it every now and then but now it has gotten out of control.



On top of all of that you really made a blueprint for a lot of people to follow. You were the first rapper I ever heard talk about that street life like that!


I was the first real cat out of the street hustling getting Rap money. Then came Suge Knight and a host of other people. I was the first street kid who decided to sell Rap and now you can go to myspace and every other kid is selling music. Music is a great thing to sell instead of something else.


Gangsta Rap is what I grew up off of! It’s hard to find this kind of shit, because the game is watered down. I need to get my fix every once in a while!


That is why I make it! There are so many haters out there. I have got reviews where they say it’s not current or it ain’t this or it ain’t that or I shouldn’t do it no more. But on the other side I got the fans who are like, “Fuck that other bullshit!” I was talking to somebody the other day in an interview and I asked them if they could really name the last important Rap record? I used the word important! Back in the day Public Enemy made an important record, and KRS-One made important records that really changed people’s lives. I can’t even name an important Rap record! With the records there is nothing that has any concepts to where you give a fuck. That’s why on the last song of my record, muthafuckaz were in the studio and they said, “Ice you gotta talk shit!” They wanted me to talk shit and I started talking about it like, “You got the fake Gangsta Rap disease and that shit is wack, go get your make-up put on in your video…” The shit is corny!



I was the first real cat out of the street hustling getting Rap money. Then came Suge Knight and a host of other people. I was the first street kid who decided to sell Rap and now you can go to myspace and every other kid is selling music. Music is a great thing to sell instead of something else.



I don’t care about how much wealth another man has especially when I’m fuckin’ broke!


It gets to the point to where it gets corny and it gets redundant so I try to step away from that. I had a long talk with Nas because his new album is called “Hiphop is Dead”. Back in the day when rappers made records and we all had respect for each other. You couldn’t talk too much about what you got. You could say it every now and then but now it has gotten out of control. Have you ever read the magazine “The Rob Report?”


No!


It’s a magazine that has all the most expensive and exclusive things in it. It is liked you open up this magazine and said “I got that, I got this!” It gets pretty old!


I always tell people if I see someone walking by themselves with a multi-thousand dollar grill I’m running up on them with pliers and I’m getting that grill out of their head!


Me personally I would never put no jewelry on my body that can’t come out, because if muthafuckaz put their robbery game down you could end up with your fuckin head bashed in.



I understand why they want to because you can’t look at Scarface and not admire Tony Montana. Gangsters are very flamboyant and live a very seductive lifestyle. But the flip side to it is more violent and more scary and more painful than you could possibly imagine. With my music I accept the flamboyancy of it, because you can’t tell nobody that a pimp with five bad bitches coming out of a car ain’t exciting looking. You can’t tell a kid that it doesn’t look good because it does look good. The fact of the matter is you could end up dead very easily or spend the rest of your life in the penitentiary.



Have you done anything recently with Body Count?


We put out a new Body Count album about two or three months ago underground and it is called “Murder for Hire”. All the stuff that is out if you go to www.icet.com on the front page you can hear the whole album. My album is up there for free to listen to, but you can’t download it, just hear it. I was like fuck it because at this point I’m just making records for people to listen to. Fortunately my life is not based off of the money that the record is going to make, so I’m just giving the music away. Body Count the album is dope and muthafucka like it and you can cop it on i-tunes, the shit is out there.


That’s what Ice Cube was saying, it’s all about the fans now.


He made twelve million dollars making “XXX” and he ain’t broke. You got fans that want to hear your music and you are a rapper and you love doing it. If you got 500,000 fans, 100,000 fans, or 10,000 fans, fuck it! Make the music so, like you say, they can get their fix.


Have you been doing any shows lately?


I have been doing shows. Actually me and Ice Cube did a sold out show in Detroit about two months ago. It was me, Ice Cube, MC Eiht, and Too Short.


Damn, that is like a West Coast all-star hall of fame show!

Yeah, and we rocked that! By being on “Law And Order” now I do spot dates on the weekends. I will shoot out and knock out a show on Saturday at any given place, but not touring. We did tour with Body Count in the Summer in Europe.


I got friends who are spending the rest of their living days in the penitentiary behind that lifestyle. To tell you the truth it is exciting looking and it could be fun for a minute but like Ice Cube says “You Laugh Now, And Cry Later.” When you are out in the streets you can get that quick cash but it can all be gone in the blink of an eye. People have to look at both sides of everything and then make your decision. You can’t just jump into something you don’t fully know about and expect everything to be in your favor. You have to weigh your options and make sure you fully understand what you’re doing.



What was the response like over there?


They loved it! Right now in the United States radio is corporate; it’s run by Clear Channel and they’re making the play lists. We talked to this radio guy the other day and he was asking $250,000 and he could give us the East Coast. It’s that kind of shit that’s going on and that’s corny to me. I’m like “Fuck that!” Thank god I got another way of getting paid!


Payola has been around forever but it’s really getting ugly now!


You have to know how many channels are Clear Channel. Clear Channel is a major corporation and I think you got Radio 1 and there is about three or four major corporations that own about 95% of all radio. It’s real big business!



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