Body Count (1992-present): a Nu-Metal band from Newark, New Jersey, USA.
ith a ghetto background that allegedly involved numerous counts of illegal activity in his past and taking on a name derived from Iceburg Slim with a mean caustic wit, Ice-T set himself up to declare himself the original 'gangsta rapper' (but truth is he wasn't the first but he did manage to invent the potent 'west coast' style of it). In his original configuration of the act as a rapper, he raised the ire of the PMRC for his lyrics and style of glorifying criminal activity in albums like Rhyme Pays (1987). Power (1988) was more mature but the follow-up Girls L.G.B.N.A.F. (Let's Get Butt Naked And Fuck) set the bar back down again; mind you, it was hardly his most offensive set - he clearly wasn't done yet. The follow-up was his first real attempts at moving into the rock/heavy metal realm for 1989's The Iceburg: Freedom Of Speech; his statement defending his rights against the PMRC. The follow-up O.G. Original Gangster (1991) making top 5 in the UK. His argument has always been that he tells it the way it is, but it was more likely just a lame excuse for the glorification of criminal activities and objectifying women.
Thinking he had gone to the limits in hip hop, and probably reversing the work of Chuck D., he moved into heavy metal full-time, another genre not known for its tolerance either. Recruiting the membership of him (Ice-T) on vocals with Bernie C. on lead guitars, D-Roc (Real Name: Dennis Miles; rhythm guitar; R.I.P.: August 17, 2004, lymphoma), Mooseman (Real Name: Lloyd Roberts; bass; R.I.P.: February 22, 2001, drive-by shooting), Sean E Sean (samples/backing vocals) and Beatmaster 'V' (Real Name: Victor Ray Wilson; drums; R.I.P.: April 30, 1996, leukemia), his debut under the moniker of Body Count was a heavy as hell rap-metal hybrid that pushed the envelope farther, most likely as he wanted. The self-titled Body Count album of 1992 pulled no punches with tracks like Momma's Gotta Die Tonight, a track that addressed racism and was relatively harmless overall; but the album was just getting started. Other tracks on the disc got more notoriety, with KKK Bitch getting the disc banned on store shelves.
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The track that threw the sh*t squarely at the oscillating fan on Body Count, however, was Cop Killer, a ditty about killing men in blue uniforms. While the infamous LAPD objected (who incidentally were hardly in a moral position to do so), US President George Bush and Vice President Dan Quale waded into the conversation by stating (more or less) that the entertainment industry should censor such artists. But the final straw was with 'Warner Brothers' (their label) when staff members started receiving death threats. In his defense, fellow indie acts Sonic Youth, Ministry and Beastie Boys took out a full-page ad in the trade paper Daily Variety with the slogan, "How Does Dan Quayle Spell Censorship. I-C-E-T." Needless to say, 'Warner' gave him the boot with subsequent editions of the albums missing the offending track. Ice-T took his business to 'Virgin' for his less inflammatory follow-up Born Dead (1994).
After taking a break to write a book and host a TV documentary of "Blaxploitation" and show "Baadaass TV" he would return, now apparently targeting people of the Jewish faith on VI: Return Of The Real (1996); this album, however, would be considered a part of his Ice-T discography and not necessarily that of Body Count. He would return to his metal outfit proper with the line up change of Griz (bass) taking over from Mooseman, for Violent Demise: The Last Days (1997).
Sean E Sean, O.T. and Ice-T would be back with a new line-up in tow of Vincent Price (bass), Ernie Cunnigan (guitars) and Bendrix (guitars) for Murder 4 Hire (2006) and not-surprisingly, no longer on 'Virgin'.
By the release of Manslaughter (2014), Juan Garcia and Ill Will had taken over from Bendrix and O.T. respectively.
Bloodlust (2017) would follow on 'Century Media'.
It's interesting to note that Body Count's pioneering and early efforts at merging rap with metal seemed to not be the model later used by acts like Rage Against The Machine whose debut was released only a year later, or for that matter Korn and the whole 'nu-metal' movement. In the case of Body Count, the music came across as simplistic and, despite the deliberately dark but cliche-ridden lyrics, managed to partially make up for the lack of a crisp heavy metal style. It's been said by many that fans and critics perhaps didn't understand the humor behind the act, despite some critics praising the innovation of the albums at the time.
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