You Say It's Your Birthday: Ice-T

Photo by Jay Blakesberg.

Today is the birthday of Ice-T, (cursed with the given

name of Tracy Morrow), who was born sometime in the late 1950s in Newark, New

Jersey. Ice-T is notorious for his controversial rap lyrics and frank honesty,

as well as his foray into metal with the group Body Count. Ice-T was raised by

an aunt in Los Angeles after his parents were killed in a car accident. After

being inspired by ghetto poet Iceberg Slim at the age of 15, Ice-T began

working on his own poetry. He became involved with the South Central Los

Angeles gang scene, where he changed his name to Ice-T and began recording

songs. The first was "The Coldest Rap," a singsong vocal laid over a sampled

Jimmy Jam-Terry Lewis track that sold for a mere $20 but earned him a spot at a

local rap club and a spot in the movie Breakin'.

Ice-T's debut came

in 1987 with Rhyme Pays; it was filled with eyewitness accounts of inner

city life as well as sexually explicit imagery. Predictably, Tipper Gore's PMRC

began getting on his case and persuaded Sire records to sticker the album. On

the plus side, Ice-T got the attention of actor Dennis Hopper, who asked Ice-T

to write the title song for his gang-culture movie Colors.

Ice-T

continued to release solo records, teaming up with former Dead Kennedys

frontman Jello Biafra for a double stab at the PMRC The Iceberg/Freedom of

Speech--Just Watch What You Say in 1989. In 1992 Ice-T formed Body Bount, a

thrash-metal outfit with whom he recorded the inflammatory "Cop Killer." After

much furor, Sire's parent company, Time Warner, dropped the track from Body

Count's record.

Ice-T's followup solo album, Home Invasion was

rejected for its artwork and the rapper cancelled his contract, signing with

the independent Priority label before working with Virgin for 1994's Born

Dead. Meanwhile, he's appeared in films like New Jack City,

Ricochet and Tank Girl. His autobiography, The Ice

Opinion, was released in 1994. He returned to the studio in 1996 for Rap

Games Hijacked and again found himself in the hotseat for some anti-semitic

remarks.

Other birthdays: Patrick Sugg (Holy Barbarians), Vic Briggs

(Animals), Doug Simril (Steve Miller Band), Tim Buckley, Roger Fisher (Heart)

and D'Wayne Wiggins (Tony! Toni! Tone!). -- Beth Winegarner