Ice-T: The Ice man cometh

A catchy stage name can come with problems. Ice-T is known to his parents as Tracy Marrow. “Not sure how to address you – do I call you Ice? Tracy? Mr T? Or Detective Tutuola?”

“Just call me Ice.”

Our phone interview was off to a great start. Ice is the gruff cop on Special Victims Unit, just this week renewed for it’s 19th season.

And he has a whole other career as a rapper, leader of the outfit Body Count, touring here next month, including June 3 at the Hordern Pavilion, for their new album Bloodlust.

They were here in 1995. Since then he’s been busy on SVU. Which is ironic. He plays a cop on the show and in 1992 he released Cop Killer, whose message was misunderstood by many at the time, including George W. Bush. 

His songs are angry, loud, targeted and unrelenting in their message: Stop police brutality of blacks in the US. He explains the real message of Cop Killer, the track that’ll never go away, here but first . . .

What’s the latest body count of black lives in the United States? “You know what? I’m afraid to count! I mean, it’s so out of control you don’t even wanna count,” he said in his trademark growl. “I think the main thing is you just wanna bring awareness to the problem. We can’t continue acting like it doesn’t matter, you know?”

I set out to shock on certain songs but a lot of the stuff is just the truth, you know?

Ice-T, lead singer of Body Count

You have a strong, undiluted point of view. Is it harder to shock people these days? “Well, I set out to shock people on certain songs but a lot of the stuff is just the truth, you know. If you listen to the new record, maybe Here I Go Again is a shock-fest, understandin’ the worst possible shit – I’m actin’ like a serial killer – but the other stuff is not really meant to shock, it’s meant to be hardcore and come straight across your jaw with somethin’ people shy away from.”

Ever worry the anger in your songs may strike the wrong note and play out with unintended results? “I don’t tell anybody to go out and hurt anybody or do anything. It’s a way of venting. You come to a mosh pit and you see cats bangin’ into each other. They’re just blowin’ off steam.”

Bush objected to your lyrics. He, and lots of others, missed the irony. Cop Killer was kind of a dead-down-the-street record and I understand if I say ‘anybody kliller’, and you’re that target, you’re gonna be offended. It was about the mindset of a person who went on a rampage, based on police brutality.

“t’s like saying if you continue to behave like this somebody might snap. It’s like the opening track of this new record, Civil War. There is no civil war but I’m sayin’ this can happen if we continue down this road. I’m just tryin’ to wake people up.”