Best Known For
Ice-T is best known for his raps about street life and violence, and his influence on the gangster rap genre.
A preview featuring Ice-T, Cheryl Tiegs, Ed Begley Jr. & Yancy Butler.
The young undiscovered Ice-T is pronounced dead at the scene of violent car collision.
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Because every hip-hop artist needs a nom de guerre, "Ice-T" came into being with help from author Robert Maupin Beck III, whose pen name "Iceberg Slim" became Tracy Marrow's inspiration. After spending a few years honing his craft by creating music for videos and releasing various recordings, Ice-T signed with Sire Records in 1987. Later that year, he released Rhyme Pays, his debut album,
which eventually went gold. His recording of the theme song for Dennis Hopper's gang-themed movie Colors (1987) also garnered the new artist plenty of attention. The movie explored life in the Los Angeles projects and marked the beginning of Ice-T's controversial depictions of South Central in his artistic work. When the black community pushed back against Colors' cultural critique, Ice-T said, "People should give Dennis Hopper credit—he deglamorized the situation. He just showed the street gangsters. He didn't show the kids wearing their diamonds and cruising in their Ferraris."
Ice-T released two more albums in the late 1980s, confirming his status as one of West Coast rap's most promising stars. His album O.G. Original Gangster (1991) was later cited as one of the key factors in developing the genre of gangster rap. Mixing social commentary with inflammatory lyrics, the rapper pushed musical boundaries by recording a heavy metal track with the band Body Count. He would later tour with the band and play at the rock-oriented Lollapalooza festival.
In 1992, Ice-T again collaborated with Body Count on their self-titled debut album, a record that included the most controversial song of Ice-T's career: "Cop Killer." This song quickly drew widespread condemnation for inciting violence against police officers. The artists claimed that the song was simply intended as a commentary on the police brutality and racism felt by the black community in Los Angeles. Nonetheless, the contentious track led to a firestorm of controversy, prompting Time Warner to block the release of Home Invasion, Ice-T's next solo album. The artist soon broke with Sire/Warner Bros. Records, releasing his work for the remainder of the 1990s through his own Rhyme Syndicate and Priority Records. The next eight years would yield a number of Billboard hits, several groundbreaking singles, and further collaboration with heavy metal bands like Black Sabbath and Slayer.
Parallel to his music career, Ice-T was also building his resume on the big screen, finding roles in movies such as New Jack City (1991), Ricochet (1991), Trespass (1992) and Johnny Mnemonic (1995). Somehow the rapper-turned-actor found time to build a television career as well, including multiple guest-star appearances and even his own reality show on VH1, Ice-T's Rap School.
Ice-T's most notable and long-lasting television role has been as Detective Odafin "Fin" Tutuola on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Ice-T has worked on this popular NBC police drama since 2000.
Ice-T is a father to two children by his first wife Darlene Ortiz: daughter Letesha and son Tracy Marrow Jr., sometimes known as Lil' T. In 2005, Ice-T married his second wife, the model Coco (née Nicole Austin).
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