Ice-T Vs. Frank Zappa: A Question Of Bad Taste?

Still skewering society.

On the surface, the only similarity between rapper-turned-metalhead Ice-T and

deceased bodily-functions-obsessed-noodler-turned-serious composer Frank Zappa,

is that they both offend large segments of button-down society. Zappa dabbled

in jazz, classical music, pop, acid rock, freak-out music and acting and T

dabbles in rock, rap, freaking people out and acting on the side. So, what's

the connection?

Ice-T has just released his latest Body Count album, called

Violent Demise: The Last Days, a hardcore assault on good taste and

mores that takes swipes at the usual suspects (bitches, hoes, the music

industry, the church, poseurs, and more bitches). On the Zappa front, a

posthumous collection of his more tasteless tunes, Have I Offended

Someone?, is out now. The Zappa collection features 15 not-PC songs

produced by Zappa before his death in 1993; the Zappa material, naturally,

takes it's own swipes at the usual suspects (hippies, the church, poseurs, the

music industry).

The Zappa collection contains such puerile pop classics as

the self-explanatory morality play "Titties 'n Beer," while T pays homage to

his love of the female anatomy with "Strippers," featuring the

destined-to-be-classic lyrics:

"Strippers

"I want my dick

sucked

"Strippers

"I wanna bust a nut."

And while T can be harsh

towards women...



And while T can be harsh towards women when exploring the

gold-digger debate in the song "I Used to Love Her," in which he lashes out at

a woman who "stabbed me in the back/ fucked my friends/ partied in my house/

bitch wrecked my Benz" (plus an interlude that makes a stinging indictment of a

former football star who pleaded not guilty despite a "bloody glove, bloody

car, bloody knife, bloody bitch, bloody carpet, bloody sock, bloody hand"),

Zappa had his own twisted take on women.

Included on Offended is

the controversial song "Jewish Princess," from the 1979 Sheik Yerbouti

album, a song that brought protest from the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai

B'rith, who found the stereotyping in the tune offensive and asked the FCC to

ban the song from radio play. In the kazoo-and Wurlitzer fueled ditty, Zappa

pines for a "nasty little Jewish Princess...a horny little Jewish Princess/

With a garlic aroma that could level Tacoma...a hairy little Jewish Princess/

With a brand-new nose/ Who knows where it goes."

And while there is

certainly enough to offend everyone on both collections, Zappa is to be

commended for including a bevy of songs that would rankle just about anyone,

including--let me quote from the liner notes-- "gays, Jewish princesses,

feminists, Christians, Satanists, record executives, the Musicians Union, young

women from the San Fernando Valley, partisans of the Parisian toilet-kiosk,

insecure young men who like to dance in clubs, Jimi Hendrix fans, and punkers

with chops, to mention a few."

Not that T doesn't do his best to offend

police, women, psychiatrists, pro-lifers, the middle class and strippers, but a

double-standard of sorts does emerge from the below-the-belt-aiming

fray.

Musical pundits have often questioned whether Zappa songs like "Bobby

Brown Goes Down," "Disco Boy," "Goblin Girl," "He's So Gay," "Valley Girl" and

"Catholic Girls," were pure satire or satire masquerading as something else,

something a little closer to the ugly truth folks like Ice-T are always

yammering about.

One thing's for certain: precious little of it was as

dopey and clichŽd as the macho posturing on a number of the new Body Count

tunes. Zappa may have knowingly pushed people's buttons, but T has an

off-putting habit of skipping the satire and going straight for the eyeballs in

thudding by-the-numbers hard rock tunes like "My Way" ("you can't tell me jack

shit, suck my dick/ out my face with that drama, I'll kill your fuckin' mama"),

"Truth or Death" ("politicians lie, what the fuck is that/ your lover lies,

what the fuck is that/ the police lie, what the fuck is that/ the church

fuckin' lies, what the fuck is that") or the poetic "You're Fuckin' With BC"

("ghetto dwellin', drug sellin', pussy suckin', hard fuckin'/ drive by'n, do or

die'n, bitch smackin', cash stackin' ").

There's no denying both men are

making (or in Zappa's case, made) observational music with a not-so-subtle

message. The only question is: "Do you want your satire in the form of a poke

in the ribs or a shotgun in the mouth? Beeyatch!"