Amazingly, 25 years have elapsed since Body Count first ignited worldwide controversy with their inflammatory anthem Cop Killer. Depressingly, LA gangsta rapper turned rocker Ice-T is still addressing similar themes of racism, poverty and police brutality on the group's sixth album, and they feel more relevant than ever. With his targeted anger, muscular machismo and rousing rhetorical skills, Ice was always a natural fit for the apocalyptic melodrama of metal.
Body Count have been holding a magnifying glass up to systemic racism and social unrest since the early '90s, but never has their expletive-macerated brand of everyman vitriol felt more relevant than it does on 2017's Bloodlust. There's nothing particularly groundbreaking about the 11-track set -- Ice-T rages against the machine in its myriad forms while Ernie C. racks up kills with his six-string -- but it so cogently reflects the political and social divides of its time that its apoplexy feels unusually palpable.
It takes a special balance to straddle the line between piousness and self-parody, but Tracy Marrow, aka Ice-T , has long pulled it off with gusto. Since the beginning of his 1987 hip-hop debut Rhyme Pays , Marrow has relished his self-appointed role as something like Crenshaw, Los Angeles' unofficial ambassador to the world. As Marrow once explained to Arsenio Hall in 1989, his m.o.
A notorious rapper and his high school friend caught lightning in a bottle with Body Count's self-titled debut album back in 1992. It was the right message at the right time delivered by the right bunch of guys. It was black guys from the ghetto playing heavy metal music for white suburban kids. Hip hop culture had already infiltrated pop music, but it had rarely reared its ugly, militant head in the rock and roll realm.