Ice-T is on the move. The multi-hyphenate has signed on to clone his voice for a myriad of reasons, bought a studio with Treach of Naughty By Nature, a weed dispensary and more. All of the opportunities Ice has been blessed with are a result of his status within Hip-Hop, a cultural force that turns 50 years.
Ice-T, an elder statesman of the culture, talks to Chuck “Jigsaw” Creekmur about a bunch of stuff, including stupid rappers.
AllHipHop: What are your thoughts on the state of the culture turning 50 and how should we look forward? We’re in a crazy space right now with Hip-Hop. I mean, I’m always thinking about the next 50.
Ice-T: Yeah. I feel good about it right now. I really feel good about it. I think that Hip-Hop, any other culture had to go through its growing pains and my thing is, Hip-Hop has gray hair. You can meet a cat walking down the street with a cane and you say Hip-Hop. He’ll say, “Man, I used to break dance.” You know what I’m saying? “You don’t know me. I’m from such and such.” So, it’s beautiful because we know Hip-Hop is the fountain of youth. We know that if you ever was involved in it, if you had Adidas on when Run DMC had Adidas on, you have not grown up. And when the music comes on, you feel like you’re still that age. And that’s the problem I think with our generation gap, is that our generation refuses. We just say f### it.
We believe we’re cooler than the kids. We just won’t let them be cool. “We cooler than you. You don’t know nothing,” but we got to let them be kids and stuff. And I’ve made my comments about Hip-Hop. I mean, I thought at one point it was getting diluted when we were doing the ringtone stuff, but I think lyrics are coming back. All we want really to do is hear you rap, just rhyme. Just show some skill. That’s it.
The key to Hip-Hop is Hip-Hop requires skill. The skill of a great DJ, the skill of a great graffiti writer, the skill of a B Boy, the skill of an MC, and if you didn’t have skill. They had a word in Hip-Hop was perfect. It’s called wack. You wack. Now wack didn’t means stop rapping. It meant get better. Now you wack. Everyone starts off wack, then you get better till you make it to dope. Well, that’s all we want. The old head, oh yo, yo. You don’t like the new cats. No, we don’t like wack m############. You know what I’m saying? We want to hear skill and when we hear skill, whether it’s Kendrick Lamar, whether it’s J. Cole, whether it’s some of these new MCs out here with bars, whether it’s the battle rappers. You can’t front on them. You can’t front. No, I went to a show the other night and I seen Big Sean perform. He performed up in Apollo, he tore s### up.
AllHipHop: Yeah. Big Sean is dope.
Ice-T: All rappers have a different skill. I listen to somebody like the Migos, they could rap. They’re rapping their ass off. They got own style, but they rapping. So, when rappers getting p#####, I’m like… I don’t know. I’m never ever going to say another rapper’s name again. You know what? I learned the lesson, only get smoke where you really want it and I don’t really need it. And it doesn’t do anything for me to say it. But some rappers they’re bullshitting, and everybody knows they’re bullshitting and it’s like, “Come on, man. Come on.” That’s all I’m saying. You pick who I’m talking about.
AllHipHop: But the other thing is right now we have a lot of artists that are getting signed not based on the skills at all. It’s usually based on how many followers they got, how many beefs they have, how many cases they have, maybe even how many bodies they’ve caught.
Ice-T: Well, you can get signed. The question is, will you have a career? And the kids probably don’t know who Frank Sinatra is, but he said it’s not how well you’re doing, it’s how long you’re doing well. And from the streets, I’ve known hustlers that had it all for 10 years and it’s over.
Here’s another thing, the fans are just as fickle as the b####### you’re pushing. They’ll bail on your ass quick. So, you have to just be consistent with your work and at the end of the day, money finds its rightful owner. I can give you $20 million in your 30s and never touch another dollar again. So, you have to learn how to get money in your 20s, in your 30s, in your 40s, in your 50s…
AllHipHop: Do you think the industry wants that? I mean, we touched on it on Twitter. Jay-Z is a force. You’re a force. Diddy’s a force. Nas is a force. Lil’ Kim is a force. You know what I mean? Mary J Blige is a force. Having that command of money. I felt like, almost, the industry wants this revolving door because they don’t have to negotiate. You might come around. You might have a hot single, you might even unfortunately die or something and they can just easily bring you back in. If you passed, or if Nas passed, or if Jay passed. They’re not replaceable.
Ice-T: The industry, Chuck, no that doesn’t give a [damn] about you. I mean, we already know record labels get loan companies that loan you money at a ridiculous rate that could never even actually be repaid. They sign you a seven-year contract, but now people are doing it without the record label. I work with an artist, RJ Payne, who’s got its own thing. I work with people like Roc Marciano who do their own thing. There’s ways around the record label, but at the end of the day, you’re going to have to create a quality catalog.
Ice Cube can go out and sell out arenas. Snoop can sell out arenas. You’re going to have to create that quality catalog that’s going to last. It’s going to be worth something. I mean, I heard Lil Wayne sold his rights to his music for a hundred million. If you create a real solid base of music, it is valuable. And then, also if you take advantage of the new options that open to you after you become a successful rapper. All right let’s start it off. You in the street, you hustle. What options are there for you?
Look at 50 Cent. 50 Cent right now is a top television producer. Television and still selling out concerts worldwide. I don’t know if you’ve been looking at some of the shots, he’s been showing from him in Europe, but he’s not having a problem over there. But why? Because 50 has an intense catalog of music. He’s been hitting them for 20 years with good s### and people want to hear it.
AllHipHop: Yeah, I was in Europe, and he had just left but it was still buzzing. They said the tickets were a little pricey for some of them, but he filled it up. Yeah.
Ice-T: But that’s because 50 has paid his dues. He’s put in his work, and he saturated the market. Whether it was G-Unit stuff, his stuff, he had his clothing line. There’s certain people, when you look at Puffy or you look at Snoop to me. Snoop and me, that’s the bar. I’m watching Snoop. Snoop will pop out with some m############ soap he’s selling tomorrow. He’s selling cereal, he was selling pancakes, masterpiece. Selling all this kind of stuff because what you’re doing is you’re maximizing your brand. Now you have this brand, take advantage of it.
AllHipHop: Absolutely. And you have been doing that real successfully. You’re doing Cheerios.
Ice-T: Yeah, Cheerios.
AllHipHop: Cheerios, Fitness, yoga. You’re standing on your head.
Ice-T: How the f###, your bro Cop Killer doing Cheerios, man? But see, this is what happened, Chuck, the guards have changed. The people that were scared of Hip-Hop now are gone. There’s a new guard in and he’s 48 years old, and he is a CEO of a company, and he is a Hip-Hop fan.
So, he’s looking at it like, “I ain’t scared of y’all.” How the did Dr. Dre, Eminem, Snoop Dogg, and them do the Super Bowl? These are all so-called worse. When I mean worse, I mean best but the worst rappers. These m############ were the most hated. Snoop’s crip walking on the f###### Super Bowl. They got kids crip walking. You got 50 Cent, gangster. You got Eminem, who tried to just scare the s### out of white people. You got at the Super Bowl because the guards have changed and the new people in power embrace Hip-Hop . They’re not afraid of it. They understand it and they f### with us and when I’m doing a Tide commercial or whether I’m doing Boost Mobile, or whatever I’m doing, they get it because I speak to the culture. I speak to the parents. I’m like the parents’ hero.
AllHipHop: Yeah, facts. And CarShield, let’s not forget, CarShield. My old car, man, I had a rough spot in life, but my mileage was too high. I was like, “Dang, I can’t get CarShield.”
Ice-T: CarShield’s just an insurance company. That’s all they are. And they got at me and I’m like sure. So, I got some buckets, I put CarShield on and then my boy just called me today, one of my partners from LA talking about this engine went down. I said, “N####, I told you to get CarShield. Why you didn’t get CarShield?” And then, a lot of people get at me, “Oh, CarShield’s a scam. I’m like, “No, you’re a scam.” What you did, your car was already broke. You tried to get some CarShield and they wouldn’t fix your s###. CarShield is an insurance company and insurance companies have investigators and they’re going to double check and make sure it’s legit. So, if you’re going to try to scam an insurance company, pay for it for six months before you try to make a claim.
AllHipHop: Definitely. I want to ask you about the guy [Kanye West] I’ve ignored for about three years now. Cannot ignore him anymore and I wanted to ask it because you have a unique perspective from when you in the “Cop Killer” days when you and others were being shouted out by the presidents and things of that nature and now it seems like Kanye West [is] unavoidable. Now, I remember when Obama called him “jackass” and I felt like that was…and that’s not for me to slander Kanye at all, but it was a long time ago when he said that. And I just wanted to know, do you have any insight on… We’ve talked a lot about mental health, but we don’t really talk about the lights, the celebrity, what that might do to somebody, their brain. I mean is there any opinion you have on that?
Ice-T: I don’t really have any opinion and I don’t want to be somebody trying to slander somebody, that’s not fly. Right now, people want just come out and say s###. I mean, whatever my view, I like to keep that in private. It’s not gangster to come out and talk about somebody like that. I could just say that certain people. Well, if you want to use Kanye and do a lot of things I wouldn’t do. Say a lot of things I wouldn’t say but at the end of the day you have freedom of speech. You just have to watch what you say. So, when you say something, you have to be prepared for the ramifications of what you say and apparently he is.
So, if this is how you feel, I always told people controversy. Don’t say nothing that you don’t mean. If you don’t mean it then you’re not going to be ready to back that s### up when they ask you about it. So, don’t just say something radical just to get the likes. When they push you in the corner, if they say, “Well, Ice-T, why you call them a b####?” I’m going to say because she was a b#### and I’m going to tell you why. I’m not talking about your mother. I’m not talking about your sister. I mean not talking about you. I’m talking about this b#### right here. You’re a girl, you got a friend who’s a b####, you got a friend a ho too.
See? So, I’m going to be able to back up what I’m saying. So, my thing is that if you choose to speak out, just be prepared for the ramifications. I’ll just leave it at that.
I can’t even take it to mental health and all that kind of stuff because how do you know that this is not exactly what they want to do?
AllHipHop: I mean I’ve questioned that myself. I’ve not been very loud about it but I’ve met Kanye a number of times and I think he’s more or less consistent. I don’t see much difference now than 20 years ago. Honestly, that’s my viewpoint.
Ice-T: If you ask the n#### about Ice-T, I would prefer for him to say me and ice just move different and just leave it at that. You know what I’m saying? I’m not going to come out and that’s corny because that creates beef and now, you’re talking about and who needs that man? So, that brother’s going to say what he wants to say and do what he wants to do and let the chips fall where they met.
AllHipHop: Things have changed, obviously, you’ve been vocal about Pac and some of his affiliations – mixing energy – let’s just leave it there, mixing energy. And I feel like we’re in a weird space right now where some kids will openly say, “I’m going to snitch.” Some will snitch on themselves on Instagram or something like that. What do you think is the state of the game right now in that regard? Where whereby big homies or OGs are now 21 or 30 is old. It just seems like the kids don’t have that street sense that-
Ice-T: I’ll break it down like this for on some street s###. Anything illegal’s supposed to be a secret. Period. If you don’t want to snitch, don’t break the law. There’s no way they can force you to snitch if you haven’t broken the law when you snitch and it’s because they have something over your head that they can leverage against you to try to get a lighter sentence. So, if you never break the law, you can never be forced to snitch. Stay off the f###### internet. The internet is the number one tool of law enforcement. Let me repeat that. The number one tool of law enforcement, you don’t have to do any research for you. They Google your ass. I watch cats on the internet and I’m like, “Word.” So, there you go. Anything that’s illegal is supposed to remain a secret. You don’t tell about it. You don’t talk about it. You don’t tell your girl about it. You don’t pillow talk about it. You don’t promote it. Soon as you walk out the house and tell everybody you a drug dealer, you done f### up.
Okay. Anything you put on the internet never leaves the internet. It can be used in court and if you don’t want to have to worry about snitching, don’t break the law. But once you get in the game, you asking for it. The thing of it is, Chuck, I think a lot of people, kids, they get in it. I remember my son. My son was selling weed and he had a kid with him that was selling weed. A white kid. And I met the kid and I told Ice, that kid ain’t cut for it. That kid just wants the clothes, the shoes, and s###. He likes the theory of being a little hustler. He likes the theory but when it gets tough, he ain’t cut for it. Sure enough. Soon as the cops grab him, he’s singing like Gladys Night & the Pips. “Holy, wait a minute, my mama…”
Now, I’m not that guy. If you want to listen to OG, do your best to get out of the game as soon as possible. Stop breaking the law. You see the drama that’s happening in a lot of these rappers who have been able to become successful but still bow-legged, got one foot in the game and one foot out of the game. You got to let that go man because, once you make it, you are a trophy to them. They could bust me for something right now that would be a trophy. All these years I’ve been on Law & Order: SVU, right now, if you come around me and you say anything that’s slightly illegal and I believe you. The police. I’m like, “No, man, what the f### are you talking, man? Cut.” I don’t jaywalk because not only have I made my departure from the street.
I know they want to bust me for something, to catch me, to prove n##### can’t change. You know what I’m saying? And I’m helping as many of my friends that are incarcerated. So, to the youngsters, man, do what you can do to get out. Look at 50 Cent. 50 cent was grimy. Look at Jay. Look at me. Look at anybody else and follow that lead. Follow that lead. It hurts me when I see the young kids getting shot at. Come on, man. I just did a movie. A doc, I’m going to promote when it starts to come out, which is about gun violence and all that kind of stuff and got to bring it down.
AllHipHop: I talked to LL, by the way, and it was a great moment, man. It was brief, because it was at the Rock The Bells Festival, but it was all for the culture. And that felt good, man. It wasn’t competitive. It wasn’t like, “What are you doing here?” It was very much about this culture, and he seems to be super passionate about that.
Ice-T: You know what it is though, Chuck, at the end of the day, our generation, we did our damn thing, and this is our way of giving back. Let’s just keep it going. How can I be bitter about Hip-Hop? I’ve taken Hip-Hop for a ride that very few people ever take it, whether it be movies, television, music, all that stuff. So, doing something like that is fun. Let’s give it back. Let’s make it happen for more and more people to enjoy it. So, yeah, I understand what LL… LL was my nemesis and LL got at me when he started the radio show. He said, “Ice, man, I need you, man.” So, we’re past that. We’re in another stage of our life so we can bring something to people that they might have heard about. A lot of people, back in the day, never even got to see some of these groups.
AllHipHop: Yeah, that’s real tough. I definitely didn’t, man. I wasn’t off the porch until the 90s. Actually, I did almost see Run-DMC live, but they came so late, my dad was like, “No, we got to leave.” And it was a lot of weed smoke in the air. I didn’t even know what weed smelled like back then. So, I missed Run-D.M.C.
Ice-T: Yeah, I mean, I just miss the shows. I remember going to Detroit and all the cats in the front row had on mink coats and gators and all that kind of stuff. I mean traveling back in those days when Hip-Hop was just starting, it was something else. And so, when you go to see Rock The Bells or you go to see an Art Of Rap Festival, that’s what you going to get that energy, that classic Hip-Hop energy. So, we going to keep that alive forever.
AllHipHop: Forever, man. Thank you. Final words?
Ice-T: Yep. If you’re breaking the law, stay the f### off the internet.
AllHipHop: Common sense ain’t common, brother.