Library Listens: O.G. Original Gangster

An idea suddenly appeared in my head that I should review various albums from my library of CDs, just for fun, and to see how the music stands up. And in my never-ending quest for knowledge it will give me a chance to learn more about my favourite artists. I chose this album because I am listening to it as I type, and I like Ice-T, he is dope.

This was released in 1991, which I didn’t really need to look up, it was ingrained in my brain for some esoteric reason. Actually 1991 was quite a year for music with the release of albums such as Nirvana’s Nevermind, Achtung Baby from U2, Badmotorfinger from Soundgarden, and Bandwagonesque from Teenage Fanclub, and I have all of those in my collection. There were plenty more.

It peaked at number 15 on the Billboard Chart, and number 9 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. Reviews in the day were mostly good, NME liked it a lot saying ” Ice-T’s best shot yet; riotous vignettes from a decaying America full of devious humour and striking pathos – all those things NWA profess to be but clearly aren’t.”

Select magazine, a now defunct mostly Britpop-oriented magazine, (the term “Britpop” was actually coined by one of the writers there), said: “Three tracks “Mind Over Matter”, “The Tower” and “The House” are outstanding while “much of the rest relies on a well-tested recipe of looped breakbeats and linear drums.” and that the album’s themes function “better as manifesto than as music”.

I remember buying this, probably in 1991 or 1992, and liking it a lot. It was refreshing stuff, and was probably the first Gangsta Rap album I ever bought. The only other rap bands I liked in those days were Public Enemy, Eric B. and Rakim, Run D.M.C., and the Beastie Boys of course. I still listen to all of them regularly.

And I still like this album a lot, nothing changes with Ice-T. Good beats, lots of attitude, and funny at times. There are plenty of tracks too, 24 in all. I have a couple of other of his albums, but this one is always the bomb. The album artwork though is not the best.

If you want to see a good documentary then check out Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap. Ice directed and produced this in 2012 and it is about how rap artists go about their trade. He visited rap luminaries all over the U.S. such as Q Tip, Chuck D, Eminem, Kanye West, and Rakim. Ice is obviously a nice fellow, and is good on camera.

I have never seen Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, but I imagine he is good in that.

Ice is also in Body Count, a thrash metal band, and they are pretty good too.

Ice-T has a few children from different partners, and is currently married to an ex-swimsuit model. They have a four year old daughter named Chanel Nicole Marrow, and they all seem to be happy. He is 61.

To end these posts off I have decided that I must find a photo of the musician taken with Lemmy, and Ice-T did indeed meet Lemmy. The other homey is from Ugly Kid Joe.

Colors

I remember this coming out, way back in 1988, and the thing I remember the most about it was the title song by Ice-T, a catchy song.

Back in the day this was a controversial film because of the subject matter. It is of course about gang violence and the cops trying to stop it. These days it seems quite tame as there are no extreme violence scenes where peoples heads are exploded by gunshots, or innocent bystanders are wasted by a psycho-drugged-up Crip or Blood gang member. It was more about the story back then, and great acting.

And the acting is probably the best thing about this film, both Robert Duvall and Sean Penn are both great. The supporting cast including Don Cheadle, María Conchita Alonso, and a one-scene one-line appearance by Jack Nance, are good but not as great (except Nance of course).

The producer hired actual gang members during filming to act as guardians, and two were apparently shot.

Dennis Hopper directed, his first film as director since Easy Rider. He shot many scenes in actual Blood or Crip areas using either Bloods or Crips as extras depending on where he was filming.

Sean Penn got a bit miffed at an extra taking photos of him without permission and gave him a good punching…33 days in prison for him.


The guy on the right in this image amused me. Not only did he look out of place in a Chicano gang, but he also basically took on this pose in almost every scene. A later scene kind of explained later on why he looked like this (he was drugged out of his mind), but it was weird nonetheless.

This is described as a “police procedural” on Wikipedia which it is I suppose, but not as procedural as those of the 1950’s. The story was pretty standard stuff actually. It followed Duvall and Penn who grudgingly become buddies, and together they set about finding out who blew a gang member away in a drive-by shooting (Don Cheadle did it!). It had all of the usual police, gang, love-interest, and car-chase tropes we expect from a police/gang story. But, I guess it portrayed the gang culture of the time well, but I wouldn’t really know.

I would not say this is an essential watch, not these days anyway, and if it wasn’t for Duvall’s and Penn’s acting skills, and Ice-T ‘s nice song, it would not rate as well.

Date watched: February 3rd
Score: 7.5/10
Film count 2018: 9

Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap

This is a documentary made by Ice=t about how rappers go about writing their music.

He starts off in New York where rap started, and talks with people like Grandmaster Caz (never heard of him, but he is supposedly one of the first rappers), Yasiin (formerly known as Mos Def), and a few others. He then goes to Detroit to see Eminem, who Ice-T seems to have a lot of respect for, then off to Los Angeles. There he meets up with B-Real from Cypress Hill, Run and DMC, Chuck D, Ice Cube, Kanye West, KRS-One, and Snoop Dogg, amongst others. There is also a look at the history of rap.

He asks each rapper about their writing process, and gets them to do a rap to the camera, most of which are quite impressive, and each one has their own unique style. Snoop Dogg was a highlight as he is such a chill and funny guy.

Ice-T was totally down with each person he met, he seemed to be very chummy with all of them. He did a couple of raps of his own.

But unless you like rap this is probably not for everyone. I did find some of the raps a bit tiring at times, they mostly rap about how dangerous they are and how they like shooting guns and spliffing spliffs. But, their passion for writing their music is clearly evident, and they are certainly talented and confident of themselves. They were also all very knowledgeable and respectful of the history of rap and other forms of music.

Date watched: December 9th
Score: 7.5/10
Film count 2017: 139

Planet Rock: The Story Of Hip Hop And The Crack Generation

I needed to watch something completely different, and a documentary also sounded good, so I chose this.

Ice-T narrated, and there were interviews with B-Real (Cypress Hill), Snoop Dogg (he was a full-on crack dealer), RZA from Wu-Tang Clan, and Freeway Ricky Ross who was the biggest crack dealer in L.A., and several other dealers turned hip-hop artists.

The story was very well told, and very interesting. Hip-hop in the early days was directly linked to crack cocaine, and labels were started using crack money. The drug itself is nasty stuff, and the crack epidemic in the U.S.A. in the 80’s was seriously bad.

Very well worth watching, especially if you know a bit about the hip-hop scene.

Date watched: May 26th
Score: 9/10
Film count 2016: 87