Once-controversial rapper turned actor’s no-nonsense overview of his life.
Although Ice-T (The Ice Opinion, 1994), born Tracy Marrow, spent his early childhood in quaint Summit, N.J., by his early teens both his parents were dead, and he was living with his aunt in the gangbanger-ruled streets of South Central Los Angeles. Attending infamous Crenshaw High School, he flirted with gang affiliation and criminal activities. While still a teen, he had his own house and lived off social security and the occasional illicit street hustle. Then he joined the Army and trained as a paratrooper. It’s in his post-Army years that the author’s autobiographical confessions start to really heat up. He orchestrated a series of department-store heists around L.A. and beyond, and his adrenaline-rush descriptions of these robberies show what competent criminals could achieve before the advent of sophisticated detection devices. Yet after a few close shaves with the law, he gave up crime to rap about it. Ice asserted himself as the first rapper to talk about street crime using explicit language. By the late ’80s, he was signed to Sire Records and selling hundred of thousands of albums despite little radio airplay. Not long after he established himself in the rap game, he landed substantial acting roles in feature films like Colors and New Jack City. The latter half of the book covers, among other topics, the controversy surrounding the inflammatory Body Count song, “Cop Killer,” his love life, and his thoughts on being an actor (he now stars in Law & Order: SVU). The author is surprisingly self-conscious about criticism directed at him, complaining a lot about “haters,” even though he can be a pretty harsh critic himself. Mostly he uses this book as a sounding board for his no-holds-barred opinions of contemporary hip hop (it’s weak) and culture in general, the cutthroat Hollywood system (where the real gangsters are), money and fame (overrated) and his role as a parent and husband (he’s tough but fair).
A boldly opinionated, bracingly street-tough memoir.