Review Summary: If you only know Ice-T as an actor, this album will change what you think about him.
The late 80s and early 90s were the peak of gangsta rap and is when some of the most important artists in the genre (Ice-T, N.W.A) released their best albums. Unlike N.W.A. who glorified violence and offered little else, Ice-T is gangsta rap with a conscience, like a cross between N.W.A. and Public Enemy. Ice-T is an ex-crip that knows the gang life from the inside and talks about it in a cold-blooded matter-of-fact manner. One of the most articulate rappers, he knows what to say and he makes it a compelling listen.
The track ‘First Impression’ is simply a woman talking about Ice-T and what she originally though about him but after closer examination of his music she concludes that Ice-T:
Embodies the entire spectrum of the urban experience and struggle. But to make things more plain and simple to the layman, I find Ice-T to be the dopest, flyest, O.G. pimp hustler gangster player hardcore m*ther***er living today. To be honest I'm totally and completely on his dick.
It was around this time when Ice-T’s acting career started to take off with a role on “New Jack City” a movie for which he also did a song for the soundtrack named ‘New Jack Hustler’ which is one of the best moments on this album. With it’s relentless guitars and well-timed drum breaks, ‘New Jack Hustler’ is a story told from the vieewpoint of a young dope dealer whose living large “So many hos on my jock, think I'm a movie star. Nineteen, I got a fifty thousand dollar car.”
Ice-T confronts his critics who chastised him for using the N-word and for calling women bitches, he replies to the latter with the track ‘Bitches 2’ where he makes it clear that the word bitch isn’t only for women “Cause some of you niggas are bitches too.”
With the track ‘Straight up Nigga’ Ice-T makes it clear that he’ll call himself what he wants to regardless of what anybody says.
On the track ‘Body Count’, Ice-T introduces his black hardcore band of the same name and on the intro he states “I feel sorry for anybody who only listens to one kind of music.” Ice-T obviously knows his rock ‘n’ roll and metal as evidenced on ‘Midnight’, a track that marries the guitar riff from Black Sabbath’s ‘Black Sabbath’ to the drums from Led Zeppelin’s ‘When the Levee Breaks’ to great results. With ‘Midnight’ Ice-T revisits what was his biggest song at the time ‘6 ‘n the Mornin’, a track where he spins a tale about cruising in L.A. that unsurprisingly devolves into a night full of violence, a typical night in South Central.
O.G. Original Gangster
is easily Ice-T’s best, most consistent album, with 24 tracks it is a bit bloated, it’s not perfect and guests spots from Nat the Cat and Donald D don’t add anything to the album. Ice-T’s virtuoso delivery and the message behind it, more than make up for any shortcomings he may have as an MC, he may not be the best lyricist but he says everything he needs to say in a very convincing manner.
Although he’s mostly known today for flaunting his impossibly proportioned wife Coco or beefing with Soulja Boy, there was a time when Ice-T was a great rapper and one of the most important gangsta rap artists. With O.G. Original Gangster
Ice-T shows why he was at one time one of the most respected artists in the genre not only for his rapping abilities but also for his intelligence and his willingness to ask the tough questions “Is this a nightmare or the American dream?”
Many people may know him now as an actor but O.G. Original Gangster
is an incredibly insightful album that was the pinnacle of a great four album run that he wasn’t able to approach with his future work.
New Jack Hustler
Straight up Nigga