Body Count Was The Real Bridge Between Metal and Hip-Hop.

( It’s March 1992 and Ice T just had a strong 1991 with the success of New Jack City, the solid performance of Ricochet, and a landmark album in O.G. Original Gangsta. His 1992 would kick off with his band Body Count’s self-titled debut.

This was an album I saw in stores as a kid and thought it looked cool from the artwork. I used to draw a lot back then and stuff like comic book and album covers were an influence.

Mind you didn’t, I didn’t hear the album until a decade later. When I finally did listen to it, it was something entirely new. By that time I was listening to hip-hop but mainly stuff from the South.

It was 2005 and 1992’s Body Count was the first I’d heard any Ice-T project. This album piqued my interest and is the reason I enjoy Power and O.G. Original Gangsta now.



The Vision for Ice T and Body Count

Body Count made its debut on O.G. Original Gangsta. This likely contributed to the band being labeled rap rock tag. If it needed a new title, “street metal” or “hood metal” would’ve done it. Ice T doesn’t actually rap on the first album.

It’s more of a mix between singing and spoken word. Growing up, Ice T took in all kinds of music and had friends who played rock and also enjoyed metal. Ice T’s hip-hop career definitely allowed for exploration of different styles.

What Ice T and Ernie C wanted to achieve with the band was rock and metal with hip-hop energy and storytelling. As a long-time fan of rock and metal, I can agree with his view that the lyrics do tend to lean more towards fiction depending on the band.

I believe the intent was to merge rock and hip-hop together merging content that is usually addressed in politically aware hip-hop with the technical side of rock.

This mix should’ve been massive in rock and resulted in more artists from a hip-hop background or who grew up in the trappings discussed in hip-hop telling their stories in rock. Professionally, it brought Ice T into households and on radios that didn’t entertainment hip-hop.

What happened with this meeting of styles was more like bands taking the technical aspects of both and making of rap rock or rap metal. Stories—about a part of America that the mainstream usually ignored until something bad happened—were still being told.

However, for the most part they were more aggressive versions stories we’d heard for decades in same genre. They were just faster, louder, and often featured rapping.

Influences of A Pioneering Band

That brings us back to how the idea of Body Count came about. Ice T and Ernie C rocked with Black Sabbath as well as the thrash metal and hardcore punk bands of the decade prior. Crossover thrash was also an influence and was ultimately the direction the band ran.

In 1992, there were hip-hop artists and groups that made darker music while still staying firmly in the realm of reality. The goal was to use the dark sound of rock they enjoyed and address issues Ice-T did in his hip-hop career.

On paper, it was simple. Bring the dark mood of Black Sabbath, discuss real life social issues as they relate to the artists, and make it loud, fast, and intense. Body Count nailed that on the debut album.

The Debut Album

What I liked most about the debut album is the experimentation from Ice-T. A lot of songs feature shouted spoken word from the lead singer. Then you get a track like “The Winner Loses” which is a dark song about a crack abuser.

A song like this one and “Cop Killer” have warnings and messages amongst the guitars and drums. That’s another thing; the other members were on top of it. Guitarists Ernie C and D-Roc the Executioner, Mooseman on bass, and drummer Beatmaster V all brought it on the debut.

When listening to rock for a while, it can become easy to overlook other members of a band unless they do an exceptional job. It’s also hard when you’re like me and put a greater emphasis on singing performance and lyrics.

The entire album is dark but not dark to the point of being bleak. It’s a mix of metal and hardcore punk on the sound side and the album structure from hip-hop with interludes being used regularly.

You know, the skit track that you might skip over on an album. Some of them are placed really well and sets up the next song. Allof the interludes were placed for a specific effect on the listener.

However, the overall flow could be impacted at times. You had some interludes that result in a tone shift between songs as was the case in listening to “KKK B****” then getting into “Voodoo” which is a horror-themed song about a run in with voodoo.

I definitely recommend this first album if you’ve wanted to hear Ice-T in a different but familiar environment. It’s also always good when an artist has love for a genre that isn’t what they’re known for, pursues a project, and have it end up successful.

Here’s hoping Denzel Curry takes note and pursue rock as well.

Staff Writer; James Swift, Jr.

This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.