Tracy Lauren Marrow (born February 16, 1958 in Newark, New Jersey) better known by his stage name, Ice-T, is a rapper, actor, and author. He is credited with helping create gangsta rap in the late 1980s.
Although one of West Coast hip hop's leading figures, Marrow, son of Solomon and Alice, was actually born in urban Newark, New Jersey, and christened Tracy by his father. When he was a child, he moved from his native Newark to the upscale community of Summit, New Jersey. His mother died of a heart attack when he was in third grade and his father died of a heart attack four years later. After his father died, he went to live with his paternal aunt in California and later attended Crenshaw High School in the district of the same name in South Central Los Angeles. After high school, he entered the 25th Infantry Division in the United States Army, an experience he has said he did not enjoy.
He was previously in a relationship with Darlene Ortiz, who was featured on the covers of his 1987 album Rhyme Pays and his 1988 album Power. Currently, Ice-T is married to swimsuit model Nicole "Coco Marie" Austin.
Ice-T peforms at a Body Count concert in Prague, 2006.
After leaving the Army, Ice-T began his extremely long career of recording raps for various studios on 12-inch singles. These tracks were later compiled on The Classic Collection and also featured on disc 2 of Legends of Hip-Hop. His first song was "The Coldest Rap" in 1982. His first official gangsta rap record was "6 in the Mornin'" one of the first of that sub-genre ever recorded. He said he was influenced by the Schoolly D record "P.S.K.," considered by many to be the first gangsta rap record (as it lionized the Philadelphia gang Park Side Killers).
He 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 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 1991 he released his album OG: Original Gangster, which is regarded as one of the albums that defined gangsta rap. On OG, he introduced his 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 self-titled debut album by Body Count followed. For his appearance on the heavily collaborative track "Back on the Block", a composition by jazz musician Quincy Jones that "attempt 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", a song intended as a narrative from the view of a criminal killing a police officer, from the National Rifle Association and various police advocacy groups. Consequently, Time Warner Music refused to release Ice-T's upcoming album Home Invasion simply because of the controversy surrounding "Cop Killer". When Ice split amicably with Sire/Warner Bros. Records after a dispute over the artwork of the album Home Invasion, he reactivated Rhyme Syndicate and formed a deal with Priority Records for distribution; Priority released Invasion in the spring of 1993. Home Invasion ranked low in sales and critical reviews, and Ice-T's regular fanbase shifted more towards upper-class white teenagers. 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 band Slayer on the track "Disorder". In 1995, Ice-T made a guest performance on Forbidden by the heavy metal band Black Sabbath. Another album of his, VI - Return of the Real came out 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 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.
One of the last scenes in Gift (film) 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, Ice-T has also collaborated with other hard rock and metal bands, such as Icepick, Motörhead, 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 will be making his first appearance at Insane Clown Posse's, Gathering Of The Juggalos 2008 edition.
Ice-T debuted as an actor in the films Breakin' and Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo in 1984, only two years after his first 12" ("The Coldest Rap," 1982) appeared. In 1991, he embarked on a serious acting career, playing a police detective in Mario Van Peebles' feature film New Jack City, gang leader King James in Trespass (1992), followed by a notable lead role performance in Surviving the Game in addition to his many supporting roles, such as J-Bone in Johnny Mnemonic (1995), and the marsupial mutant T-Saint in Tank Girl, 1995. Ice-T was also interviewed in the Brent Owens documentary Pimps Up, Ho's Down, in which he is quoted as saying "I can't act, I really can't act", and raps at the Players Ball.
In 1993 Ice-T along with other rappers and the three Yo! MTV Raps hosts Ed Lover, Doctor Dre and Fab 5 Freddy starred in the comedy Who's the Man? directed by Ted Demme.In this movie Ice is a drug dealer who gets really frustrated when someone calls him by his real name "Chauncey" rather than his street name "Nighttrain".
In 1995 he had a recurring role as vengeful drug dealer Danny Cort on the television series New York Undercover, which was co-created by Dick Wolf. In 1997, Ice-T co-created the short-lived series Players, which was produced by Wolf. These two collaborations led Wolf to add Ice-T to the cast of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, where the rapper has portrayed a former undercover narcotic officer, transferred to the Special Victims Unit, Detective Fin Tutuola since 2000, whose character says he is a Republican. Ice-T also appeared in the Law & Order universe as pimp Seymour "Kingston" Stockton in Exiled: A Law & Order Movie. His participation in this show is ironic, given the early controversy surrounding his group Body Count with their song "Cop Killer". Ice-T also appears in the movie Leprechaun: In the Hood. He once was presenter on Channel 4's Baaadasss TV.
In 1999, Ice-T starred in the HBO movie Stealth Fighter as a United States Naval Aviator who fakes his own death, steals a F-117 stealth fighter and threatens to destroy United States military bases. This movie is often criticized for its poor script, military inaccuracies, and significant use of footage from other movies.
Ice-T voiced Madd Dogg in the video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas as well as Agent Cain in Sanity: Aiken's Artifact. He also appears as himself in Def Jam: Fight for NY and UFC: Tapout fighting video games.
Ice-T made an appearance on Chappelle's Show as himself presenting the award for "Player Hater of the Year." He was dubbed the "Original Player Hater."
At WrestleMania 2000, Ice-T performed his song "Pimpin Ain't Easy" during The Godfather and D'Lo Brown's entrance.
He also played as Hamilton in a 2001 thriller film named 3000 Miles to Graceland.
Beyond Tough, a 2002 documentary series aired on Discovery Channel about the world's most dangerous and intense professions, such as alligator wrestlers and Indy 500 pit crews, was hosted by Ice-T.
In 2007, he appeared as a celebrity guest star on the MTV sketch comedy show Short Circuitz. Also in late 2007, Ice-T appeared in the short-music film "Hands of Hatred" which can be found online.
On October 20, 2006 Ice-T's Rap School aired and was a reality television show on VH1. It was a spin-off of the British reality show Gene Simmons' Rock School, which also aired on VH1. In Rap School, rapper/actor Ice-T teaches eight teens from York Preparatory School in New York City how to become a real hip-hop group called the "York Prep Crew" ( "Y.P. Crew" for short). Each week, Ice-T gives them assignments and they compete for an imitation gold chain with a microphone on it. On the season finale on November 17, 2006, the group performed as an opening act for Public Enemy.
Ice-T also made an appearance on NBC’s new game show "Celebrity Family Feud" on June 24th 2008. In the show Ice-T and Coco teamed up in a competition against Joan and Melissa Rivers to compete for their favorite charity. The Rivers family won their round.
He has condemned the alleged involvement of the Central Intelligence Agency in drug trafficking (in connection with the Iran-Contra scandal, as documented in the Kerry Committee report and elsewhere) on tracks such as "This One's for Me" and "Message to the Soldier", and in sections of his book.
He was criticized for misogyny in his lyrics, and this has deterred some people from supporting him. In The Ice Opinion, he claimed that he was a feminist insofar as he believed in equal pay for women and equal rights generally. He argued against the position that being a stripper or a model is demeaning to women by an analogy with a man who considers a gay man to be demeaning all men by his actions, arguing that if the latter feeling is untenable, the former is as well.
The track "Escape from the Killing Fields" expressed a difference in views from rappers like Chuck D, Redman and Ice Cube in that Ice-T did not see any virtue in staying in the ghetto, but rather encouraged Black people to leave the ghetto. The last track on O.G. Original Gangster is a spoken-word opposition to the Gulf War and to poor conditions in prisons. After Born Dead in 1994, Ice-T's music has contained much less political commentary than before.
In 1994, Ice-T wrote a book titled The Ice Opinion: Who Gives a Fuck?. The purpose of the 199-page book was to respond to questions about his political beliefs, his life and the controversy surrounding his music. Having often voiced controversial statements about corruption, he goes into detail about his suspicions of police/CIA involvement in drug trafficking and of how certain businesses profit from prison-building. The ten chapters are:
On June 17, 2008, Ice-T appeared on DJ Cisco's Urban Legend mixtape, speaking against Soulja Boy and Hurricane Chris in correlation of Hip-Hop's criticized status:
“Fuck Soulja Boy! Eat a dick! This nigga single handedly killed Hip hop. That shit is such garbage man. We came all the way from Rakim, we came all the way from Das EFX, we came all the way from motherfuckers flowing like Big Daddy Kane and Ice Cube, and you come with that Superman shit? That shit is garbage. Hurricane (Chris) take them fucking beads out of your hair nigga! Man up. You niggas is making me feel real fucking mad about this shit.”
On June 23, 2008, Ice-T responded to Soulja Boy's video response, where he apologized against Hurricane Chris for the comments, saying that the comments were made 'in anger' and that Hurricane isn't really in the beef. As for Soulja Boy, Ice-T apologized for the 'eat a dick'-comment, but continued to state that Soulja Boy's music is garbage. He also makes it clear that he isn't trying to set off a war against the Dirty South. Instead, he said: “If any war (is going to start), it's gonna be good hip-hop versus whack hip-hop, you understand what i'm saying? And if there has to be a war on that battlefield, i'm proud to be the general, nigga.” . At the end of the video, Ice-T's 16-year-old son appeared, repeating his father's "Eat a dick" comment.
Since the Soulja Boy comments, many hip hop artists have commented on the situation. Artists such as Kanye West and 50 Cent have voiced their agreement with Soulja Boy's reaction. Other artists, such as, Spice 1 and Snoop Dogg have decided to affiliate themselves with Ice-T in this situation.