Body Count – Ice-T

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For most, music has always gone hand-in-hand with revolution. That’s a concept American rapper, vocalist and actor Ice-T knows all too well, having offered a political perspective through tracks on his broken surroundings since the 1990s. His revered metal act Body Count’s new album “Bloodlust” just dropped, offering a needed commentary on the divisions becoming more and more apparent in our world.

“The world kind of went into a turmoil”, he recounts. “Especially with the United States dealing with these elections. It seemed like we knew [the album] was going to happen right now but the timing just matched up like the perfect storm”. He sums it up as a record “very in touch with the times”, where “a madman” is America’s president and “we’re on the brink of World War III”.

Despite what’s going on right now, the sentiments that Body Count offer on civil and political struggles aren’t new. Their song “Cop Killer” dates all the way back to 1992, reflecting a stance against police brutality that, at the time, was controversial. “I think the only difference now”, Ice points out, “is that people are very much aware that this shit is real. When I was yelling about it, people were like, ‘you’re making this up’”.

Body Count set up a dystopian reality that builds on current events on their new album, and it’s unnervingly resemblant of where many people believe society is heading. As martial law and civil war are declared at the record’s start, it’s easy to see why listeners would be intimidated.

“I don’t wish it happens, but I can see it, you know?” Ice explains, “And sometimes you can kind of get it into people’s heads—like this could really happen—and every day it seems more and more possible. That announcement is actually Dave Mustaine from Megadeth, who sounds pretty much like an announcer,” he laughs.

Though political music is making a comeback in 2017’s circumstances, Ice has in the past described a limbo period where bottle popping became the main concern of artists. Obviously, that hasn’t totally faded, and all you have to do is turn on the radio to attain some evidence. He comments that activism isn’t quite for everyone.

“I don’t know, I mean I think pop artists tend to do pop music. Every once in a while they become political, but if you haven’t always been that way a lot of fans won’t stand for it”. Instead, “they’ll be like, ‘shut up and sing’. It’s fucked up but certain people are known to have that activism and I think it goes hand-in-hand with music. Music in my life has always been political”.

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From the perspective of someone who has seen adversity firsthand and has empowered so many of his listeners to fight against it, it seems like Ice-T would be a trustworthy authority on talking to the point of whether some artists just aren’t qualified to discuss it. That became an issue brought up by mainstream rap artist Macklemore in his tracks on white privilege, questioning whether because he’s benefited from being a white rapper, adopting a culture but remaining ‘safe’, he might be a hypocrite if he takes a stance.

“You know, people can get mad at Macklemore for whatever,” Ice comments, “I give him thumbs up just for speaking on it.” He adds that “white people definitely understand racism. I’m sure they see it firsthand” and “a lot of white people that aren’t privileged get pissed at the term ‘white privilege’, but it really matters in America”.

To give an example, he notes that “if you come into my neighbourhood where it’s all black and poor people, white privilege may not play out. But it might play when the cops get there. I think women understand men have male privilege, too. Every place, somebody has the upper hand.”

With the world in such a divided state, it’s much easier to criticise it than to think of a solution to problems so complex they’ve been addressed thousands of times but still run back centuries. With this being brought up, Ice has some initial ideas in mind.

“I think the first step is for people to really acknowledge these problems exist,” Ice responds. “Like I said, without all this video footage, people are still in denial of the problem. So, I think, now, with more video and people showing it, people are saying, ‘Okay. We do have to address this shit.’” In the meantime, and in Ice’s opinion, survival comes first.

“I’m a dad and right now, I’m out with my daughter and my wife. You know, I play a lot of video games. I’m relaxed. I mean, I’m angry at the same stuff everybody is, and Body Count just gives me a vehicle to vent. I vent it and get it off my chest, and then I go back to my life trying to survive.”

If you want to participate in that anger with Ice-T and the rest of Body Count, they’ll be heading to Australia very soon. When asked on expectations, Ice replied that he’s “just looking to have a blast”. He’ll never have a bad moment with crowds that are willing to participate and take something away from what he’s saying. “They’ve always respected Ice-T and what I stood for,” he adds. “So I can’t wait”.

Written by Peyton Bernhardt

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