Our Top 10 Ice-T Songs looks at a legendary rapper. He’s known as a hardcore rapper who wanted to take on subjects like violence and gangster rap. His style of rapping worked because he sold over 10 million albums in the United States alone. He has 51 singles alone as well as with other artists. In addition to rapping, he is also an actor. He has been in numerous movies and TV shows throughout his career. His singles include “Cop Killer,” “High Rollers,” “Midnight,” “Power,” “Colors,” “New Jack Hustler,” “Power,” “I’m Your Pusher,” “99 Problems,” “O.G. Original Gangster,” “I Must Stand” as well as others.
Tracy Lauren Marrow was born on February 16, 1958. He was in the army before he became an artist. He became interested in music while he was in the army. He was inspired to write rap over music when he heard Sugar Hill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight.” After he left the army, he became a DJ. He decided to pursue a career in rap music. In 1982, he met a producer named Willie Strong who changed his life forever. He recorded a single called “Cold Wind Madness.” It was known as the “coldest rap.” Radio stations wouldn’t play the track, but it still managed to be successful. It was an underground hit. He went on to record other singles before releasing his first album.
Rhyme Pays came out in 1987. The album peaked at number 26 on the R&B and Hip-Hop charts and number 93 on the Billboard 200 charts. It features the singles “6 ‘N the Morning,” “Make It Funky” and “Somebody Gotta Do It (Pimpin’ Ain’t Easy).” The album sold over 500,000 copies. Power came out in 1988. It peaked at number six on the R&B and Hip-Hop charts and number 35 on the Billboard 200 charts. It features the songs “Power,” “High Rollers” and “I’m Your Pusher.” The album sold over one million copies.
The Iceberg/Freedom of Speech…Just Watch What You Say was released in 1989. It peaked at number 11 on the R&B and Hip-Hop charts and number 37 on the Billboard 200 charts. It features the singles “Lethal Weapon,” “What Ya Wanna Do” and “You Played Yourself.” The album sold over 500,000 copies.
O.G. Original Gangster was released in 1991. It peaked at number nine on the R&B and Hip-Hop charts and number 15 on the Billboard 200 charts. It features the songs “O.G. Original Gangster,” “New Jack Hustler (Nino’s Theme),” “Midnight” and “Body Count.” The album sold over 500,000 copies. Ice-T discovered the group Body Count. He recorded seven albums with the group.
He faced controversy because of their single “Cop Killer.” It was a song that was about killing the police. Home Invasion came out in 1993. The album peaked at number nine on the R&B and Hip-Hop charts and number 14 on the Billboard 200 charts. It features the singles “I Ain’t New Ta This,” “Addicted to Danger” “99 Problems” and “Race War.” The album sold over 500,000 copies. Ice-T IV: Return of the Real was released in 1996. It peaked at number 19 on the R&B and Hip-Hop charts and number 89 on the Billboard 200 charts. It features the singles “I’m Must Stand” and “The Lane.” The Seventh Deadly Sin came out in 1999. It features the singles “Don’t Hate the Playa” and “Always Wanted to be a Hoe.” Gangsta Rap came out in 2006. It features the single “Walking in the Rain.”
Ice-T was known as one of the originators of hardcore rap. He received some controversy because of his political views about the police. He’s the type of rapper who tells it like it is. He wants his songs to have a message. He spoke his mind with no regrets. Some people liked it and some people didn’t. He surprised fans when decided to take on roles playing a police officer. His fans know how he feels about the police department. Does this mean people can change as they move on with their lives? Our Top 10 Ice-T Songs list will feature his best songs.
# 10 – 99 Problems ft. Brother Marquis
The first song on our Top 10 Ice-T Songs list is “99 Problems” from the Home Invasion album. The song has a hip-hop beat. The contemplative song about having lots of problems, but having women isn’t one of them. He talks about having things wrong, but he didn’t have to worry about women. His problems are the police, paying his bills, but having many women in his life wasn’t his problem.
Most people are probably more familiar with Jay-Z’s version of the song, but Ice-T recorded a song like this first. He managed to make the song social even though he’s talking about being with women. He makes it sound like he’s giving out advice on how to get women in your life.
Ice-T and Brother Marquis talk about a variety of women. They enjoy all types of women. They don’t discriminate against them. They do refer to them in a derogatory way. They use the b word repeatedly throughout the song. It may be offensive to some people. If you can get past it, then you will be able to enjoy the track. They have strong rhyming skills and they hold your attention throughout the song. As we mentioned earlier, Jay-Z recorded this song too. Their songs are different from each other, but you should listen to this jam and judge for yourself which on you like better.
# 9 – New Jack Hustler
The next song on our Top 10 Ice-T Songs list is “New Jack Hustler” from his album O.G. Original Gangster and The New Jack City Soundtrack. The song has a hip-hop beat. The deep song is about the life of a street hustler. He gives detailed information about life as a gangster. He doesn’t just tell the bad things about it. He tells about the good things being a gangster. He talks about the money you make by being a gangster, but it comes with a price tag. It’s better that he didn’t try to glamorize the life of a hustler, but he chose to tell the good and the bad. You will have to draw your own conclusions as to whether the gangster life is worth it.
The song is about a character named Nino from the movie New Jack City. The lyrics could describe Nino perfectly because he’s a hustler in the movie. Ice-T was a gangster rapper so he sounded authentic when he rapped about this type of subject. He didn’t just come up with it out of thin air, he knew what he was talking about because of the way he grew up. Ice-T is hardcore so he makes you believe him.
The song has such a powerful message that it should be played for people who are trying to be hustlers. His words of wisdom will resonate with anyone who wants to be a hustler. The music doesn’t really stand out, but the verses will grab your attention.
# 8 – Colors
The innovative song is from the Colors soundtrack. The track has a hip-hop beat. The social song is similar to “New Jack Hustler.” He talks about gang members fighting for their colors. They are either fighting on the red side or the blue side. He may be loyal to the gangster life, but he doesn’t want anyone to become one. He warns the listeners not to be in gangs. This is one of the rare gangster songs where the rapper doesn’t want you to be violent. It’s rare when you hear rappers talk about the gang life and they don’t want you to be violent. They make it sound so cool, but Ice-T doesn’t glorify it. He talks about the wars going on in the hood.
The song was recorded in the 80s, but it has a timely message. There are gang wars going on in the world now so this is the perfect song to listen to in order to get your life back on track. The song was perfect for the movie because it was about gang life. The song features the sample of the Brothers Johnson “Ain’t We Funkin’ Now.”
The sample fits because it gives the song a hardcore sound. It features scratching in the background which gives it an old-school sound. The baseline is sick and you will enjoy it. The music will grab your attention, but the amazing lyrics are going to be what hooks you. This is the type of song that will make you think. It’s not the type of song that will make you dance. You can move to it, but it’s more thought provoking than anything else.
# 7 – 6 ‘N the Mornin’
The realistic song is from the Rhyme Pays album. The song has a hip-hop beat. The groundbreaking song tells the story of a man being chased by the police. The police show up at his place at 6 O’clock in the morning. The man isn’t prepared for what happens when the police arrive at his door. Unfortunately, things don’t go well for the guy when they get inside his place. The police raid his house. The man escapes out the window. After he escapes from the police, he tells a myriad of stories. He talks about violence, being in jail, dealing drugs and pimping. He wasn’t leaving anything untouched. This isn’t your daddy’s bedtime story. This is a raw look at what happened to men in South Central during the time this song was recorded.
This song was ahead of its time. This type of track about the police barging into your home wouldn’t have happened too much when the song was recorded. Unfortunately, this is normal for people when they are approached by the police now. Minorities are getting killed by the police all of the time now. Ice-T made it possible for other rappers to talk about this subject.
The drum programming is fire. The beat is simple. The song didn’t need anything but the drum programming to set it off. It would have been bogged down with too many instruments and we wouldn’t want that at all. The drumbeat gives listeners a chance to focus on the lyrics.
# 6 – You Played Yourself
The cautionary tale is from the album The Iceberg/Freedom of Speech…Just Watch What You Say! The detailed song is about different stories. Ice-T loops different situations together to make one song. He wanted to use his platform to tell the world about throwing their lives away. He wanted to tell fake people not to embrace a lifestyle that wasn’t meant for them. One of the people in the story thinks he’s a gangster, but he’s not about that life.
Another story is about a rapper who offends his fans because he thinks he’s better than them. His arrogance made the fans turn against him. He has no one to turn to now. The next guy in Ice-T’s story is a drug addict who steals from his family in order to get money. When they don’t give him the money he decides to rob somebody. He ends up killing the person and ends up getting the death penalty.
Ice-T is an amazing storyteller. He will give you all the details you need in order to feel one of his songs. He doesn’t have a problem giving you the harsh realities of the world. He wants everyone to be aware of how bad things can get in the world. He is teaching his listeners about the ways of the world. Each person in his story played themselves They don’t get the fairy tale ending and we applaud Ice-T for doing that.
He could have told the story and made them look like heroes, but he decided to make the stories realistic. Some of his listeners were probably in gang life so they needed to know what could really happen to them. They needed to know that they “played themselves.” You can get lost listening to Ice-T tell these moving stories about what happened to the people in his story. He makes the stories read like the plot of a movie.
# 5 – That’s How I’m Livin’
The next song on our Top 10 Ice-T Songs list is “That’s How I’m Livin’. The song has a gang rap beat. The insightful song is about the things that went on in his life. He opens the song about his childhood and how he lost his parents at a young age. He talks about his high school days being cut short as well as his time in the army getting cut short. He talks about being a criminal and going to prison. There weren’t too many rappers at the time bragging’ about getting arrested. He explains why he went to prison.
He turned the negativity in this song into something positive. We have to wonder if this is an autobiographical story. He talked about being arrested and noticing the same faces in the police station. He didn’t think it was funny watching what happened to his brothers in jail. We applaud Ice-T for taking on such a deep subject. He was brave to let the listeners know about his earlier life. He wanted to hang up with new friends so he could begin a better life. Anyone who is torn between gang life and life on the straight and narrow will want to listen to this track. This track may help gang members change their minds about being in gang life.
# 4 – I’m Your Pusher
The motivational song is from the Power album. The song has a gangster rap beat. The inspirational song is about using music and dancing to make a change instead of using drugs. Ice-T was never a drug addict so he never pushed for anyone to use drugs. In fact, he was an advocate for people staying sober. He didn’t want anyone turning to drugs. He would rather people listen to a good song than deal drugs. The pusher he refers to in the title of the song is himself. He is a pusher of music. This song is different from other drug dealer turned rapper songs. Biggie and Jay-Z always talked about their drug dealing days while Ice-T wanted to focus on the fans listening to his song. We can’t get mad at that.
The song features a sample of Curtis Mayfield’s song “Pusher Man.” The music goes with the theme. He isn’t singing in time with the beat, but it does go with the song. It has a good message about changing lives. This song kept a lot of kids off of drugs and out of trouble during the height of his career. Fast forward years later and the song could still be recorded today. He wants them to choose dancing over drugs.
People who are in danger of leading a deadly life need to hear this track. This is a track that might help get gang members turn their lives around. This isn’t a message that should be ignored. Everyone should listen to this track at least once especially if you live in urban areas. Pay attention to the lyrics. At some point, he disses LL Cool J in the song. He dissed him for writing a love song. Fans wanted him to write love songs, but he couldn’t relate to that topic.
# 3 – High Rollers
The in-depth song is from the Power album. The track has a gangster rap beat. The advice-filled song is about someone who wants to warn people about joining the street life. He warns them about listening to high rollers and the lifestyle they are living. Throughout the song, he warns the listener about the dangers of being a high roller despite it looking cool. He wants the listeners to make their choices wisely. If you decide to be a high roller, don’t be arrogant or you will possibly end up dying. He doesn’t want you to do something that you aren’t ready to handle.
Ice-T told the reality of the high roller life. He didn’t sugarcoat anything. Some people may have thought he was promoting street life, but he wasn’t. He wanted people to live straight and narrow. He just wanted to warn high rollers not to get too full of themselves. He warns people that high rollers don’t care about what they are doing to their own people in their community. Ice-T is a master at storytelling. He will hold attention until he decides he is done. You won’t want to turn away because his stories are too fascinating. We may not be able to relate to what he’s talking about, but we aren’t turning away. We want to hear the story from beginning to end.
# 2 – O.G. Original Gangster
The autobiographical song is from the album of the same name. The song has a gangster rap sound. The personal song is about his life before he became a rapper. Ice-T was a gangster when he was younger. He wanted to write after he heard his favorite rappers. He wanted to do party songs until he decided to write about life on the streets. He was one of the first rappers to get real and talk about life on the streets. At the time, rappers were doing party songs so his music really stood out. If you want to know about his humble beginnings, all you have to do is listen to this track. He gives you all the information you ever wanted to know about him.
The song isn’t a party song by any means, but you can move around to it. The song has a bouncy beat to it even though he’s talking about an important subject. The song contains samples of James Brown’s “Funky Drummer” and Curtis Mayfield’s “Right On for the Darkness,” Melvin Bliss “Synthetic Substitution,” Thin Lizzie’s “Johnny the Fox Meets Jimmy the Weed.” These songs blend nicely to create a unique sound. It works to keep his song from sounding silly. Ice-T has a smooth flow and it’s easy to follow. His timing is on point and you can understand everything he says.
# 1 – Cop Killer Ice-T with Body Count
The number one song on our Top 10 Ice-T Songs list is “Cop Killer” from the eponymous album. The song has a rock and rap sound. The bitter song is about cop killers. This song is self-explanatory. Ice-T recorded this song because he was tired of police brutality. He wrote the song in the character of a person who is tired of being abused by cops. He felt the police weren’t being fair to African American men and he wanted it to stop. The song faced a lot of heat and controversy because politicians felt the song would cause an outrage. They felt he was promoting cop killing.
Since Ice-T told the song in the first person narrative, people thought he was promoting cop killing. People took copies of the albums out of the stores because of that song. The irony is that Ice-T would go on to play cops in other projects. He’s been playing a police officer on Law and Order: S.V.U. People may have considered him a sellout for playing a cop, but it didn’t take away the impact he made on the world when this song was released. People may not have approved of the “protest” but the message of police brutality needed to be addressed. We may or may not agree with the title of the song, but the message still needed to be put out there for the world to hear. He made it possible for other rappers to talk about the same subject that he made famous.
Top 10 Ice T Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2022
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