Born: February 16, 1958, Newark, New Jersey
Ice-T started out with other West Coast hip-hop pioneers such as Kid Frost, DJ Flash, and Egyptian Lover with Electro recordings. Later on, he changed his style and was the first West Coast MC to be accepted by the East Coast.
“6 ’N The Mornin’” is sometimes seen as the track that triggered the whole gangsta movement, which was produced by the Unknown DJ, who produced electro funk tracks before and went on to produce Compton's Most Wanted. The song was inspired by Schoolly D's "PSK" and became the inspiration for Eazy E and N.W.A.'s "Boyz N The Hood."
Ice-T’s raw style captured the ears of Sire Records founder Seymour Stein, who signed him to a multi-album countract, and then went on to work with Afrika Islam, the man behind the beats on his debut album, 1987’s Rhyme Pays; 1988’s Power; and 1989’s The Iceberg/Freedom of Speech...Just Watch What You Say. As the title of this third album suggests, Ice-T was from the start not merely a gangsta MC—although he was one of the driving forces behind the new style—but also used hip-hop music as a platform for social and political activism; Seymour Stein called him “the Bob Dylan of hip-hop.” On “Freedom of Speech,” Ice attacked Tipper Gore for introducing the Parental Advisory sticker.
In 1991, Ice T's fourth album, O.G. Original Gangster, was released, which included rhymes about child abuse and drunk driving as well as the theme song from the movie “New Jack City” by Mario Van Peebles, the movie that launched Ice's career as an actor. The same year, Ice formed the heavy metal band Body Count. Its debut self-titled album contained a song called “Cop Killer,” which led to a giant controversy over song lyrics. This escalated to the point where death threats were sent to Sire/Warner Bros executives, and Time Warner stockholders threatened to pull out of the company. Sire/Warner Bros., however, defended Ice all the way. This eventually caused the album to be re-issued with “Cop Killer” removed, and the title track from “The Iceberg” was added to the album as a replacement. He answered the controversy by saying the song was written in character, and that "if you believe that I'm a cop killer, you believe David Bowie is an astronaut." Indeed, Ice-T has portrayed police officers many times in his acting career.
1993’s Home Invasion, a politically-oriented album that featured a new female MC named Grip and Ice T's longtime DJ Evil E as an MC himself. Sire/Warner Bros. had issued the first single from the album—and even assigned a catalog number to the album—but Ice parted company with Sire because of the controversial album artwork before it was released formally. Rhyme $yndicate/Priority/EMI Records released the album with the intended artwork intact.
On 1997’s VI—Return of the Real, Ice returned to his gangsta roots. 1999’s 7th Deadly Sin was one of the first records to be distributed via mp3 before appearing in record stores and continued in this vein.
In 2000, Ice-T teamed up with East Coast hip-hop pioneer Kool Keith from Ultramagnetic MCs to form the Analog Brothers, widely considered an artistically successful experiment. The same year also brought Ice-T's Greatest Hits: The Evidence. More recently, Ice-T formed a new group called SMG (Sex, Money, and Gunz) with East Coast gangster MCs Smoothe Da Hustler and Trigga da Gambla.
Ice-T has written and performed songs for many movie soundtracks including "Big Gun" for “Tank Girl” as well as title tracks for “Colors,” “Dick Tracy,” “New Jack City,” “Ricochet,” and “Trespass” (He starred in all of them, save for “Dick Tracy” and “Colors.”). He teamed up with the pioneering Latino MC Kid Frost to perform "Tears of a Mother" for the film “No Mothers Crying, No Babies Dying.”
These days, Ice stars as Odafin Tutuola on the television series Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, but he still returns to the studio on occasion to record hip-hop tracks.