Ice-T was among the presenters at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Friday night (November 3). The Original Gangster was on deck to induct Rage Against the Machine, who joined Sheryl Crow, DJ Kool Herc, Link Wray, Al Kooper, Chaka Khan, Missy Elliott, Willie Nelson, The Spinners and Gorge Michael in the 2023 class.
The ceremony was streamed live for the first time in the Rock Hall’s 38-year history thanks to Disney+, which provided for some colorful moments. Beforehand, Rock Hall Chairman John Sykes addressed the media room, which included AllHipHop, and suggested he was slightly nervous about what could go wrong. As it turned out, Sykes did have one thing to worry about—a barrage of cuss words. Throughout the evening, presenters and inductees alike kept letting “f-bombs” and other expletives slip. Ice-T let at least one “muthaf###in” out but kept it pretty tightened up otherwise.
“So I was minding my business right?” he began. “And I get a phone call, and my manager said they wanted me to induct somebody into some kind of awards. I’m like, ‘Nah, I’m busy. I’m doing something. I’m playing Call of Duty right now, I ain’t got no time.’ They said it’s Rage Against the Machine into the Hall of Fame. I was like, ‘Are you serious? Yo, I’m there.’ Zach, Tom, Tim and Brad—make some noise for them.”
Ice-T went on to recall how he was first introduced to Rage Against the Machine in the 1990s by Body Count guitarist Ernie C. He continued, “Let me tell you a true story. I ain’t got no teleprompter. We were playing…oh yeah, for some of you youngsters out there, I’ve made a few records in my day. I’m far from a muthaf###in’ cop. Don’t get it twisted—my little band was playing this gig at this place called Madame Wong’s in L.A. with Danzig. And my guitarist Ernie runs into this guy named Tom Morello.”
As the story goes, Ernie C was then invited to check out Rage Against the Machine at a rehearsal and he concluded they didn’t any help refining their sound, so he invited them to play with Body Count.
“Ernie tells me, ‘I found this band in L.A. They’re going to open for us,'” Ice-T explained. “I’m like, ‘Whatever, word.’ I go to soundcheck. Zack jumps five-feet in the air. I’m like, ‘That ain’t no opening band! What are you talking about?’ Right out of the gate, Rage Against the Machine wasn’t a game. In their career, they did things that impressed cats like me. You can’t impress me with normal stuff. You gotta do stuff like suing the U.S. State Department for using their music. Who does that!? Rage Against the Machine does that. How about 1993, pulling up butt naked at Lollapalooza, protesting against the PMRC [Parents Music Resource Center]. Who does that? Rage Against the Machine does. I respect the hell out of this band.”
Tom Morello was the only member from Rage Against the Machine to attend the ceremony. He proceeded to deliver a passionate acceptance speech, which—true to Rage form—challenged the current systems put in place.
“The world is worth fighting for,” he said before adding, “Dream big and don’t settle. Don’t wait for us. Rage is not here, but you are. You’re the ones who must testify.” He ended with, “History is like music—it’s not something that happens, it’s something you make.” Backstage, he posed for photos in true Rage fashion with a sign that read simply, “Cease fire.”