Ice-T is a defining figure in the world of hip hop and metal. A unique prospect, in the fact that he easily traverses the different genres with the same passion and guttural conditioning that he applies to everything, Ice-T is rightly seen as one of hip hop’s founding fathers and a fierce protector of its right to protest.
There are a few rappers from the history of hip hop that simply do not get the credit they deserve. One of the foremost names on that list is Ice-T. The ‘Cop Killer’ rapper is one of the pioneers of modern rap and his view on issues surrounding censorship and freedom of speech are as valid today as they were when he fought for them decades ago.
It means Ice T’s opinion on the finer details of the genre are always welcomed. The rapper has thankfully done such things and shared his views on the creation of gangster rap, the “real one” David Bowie and, now, we’re looking back at a song from Public Enemy that the icon said changed his entire outlook on music and what it could be used for.
Music had always been an important part of Ice-T’s life but it wasn’t until the rapper heard Public Enemy’s song ‘Rebel Without A Pause’. For him, that song made music pop: “Hip-hop became something different to me when I heard that. The way Chuck D approached the music was so aggressive. Also, the first song on the first Black Sabbath album [‘Black Sabbath’]. I played it 10,000 times – that song was my bridge into metal.”
It seems fitting that T should also pick out a classic metal song, considering the rapper isn’t just the leading man in Body Count but has, on numerous occasions, picked out metal albums as some of his favourites of all time. But, elsewhere in his conversation with NME, Ice-T shared the first song he ever loved was something a little more soulful: James Brown’s ‘The Payback’.
“I was in junior high, so I was maybe 13,” T recalled. “I heard it on the radio – it was just James Brown, it was the coolest thing ever. That’s when cats were just starting to dance – it was important. It was one of my favourite songs.”
Below, you can listen to three songs that changed Ice-T’s life.