Review Summary: “All we listen to in these streets is Drake, Drake, Drake.”
Referring to the above summary, It is with that sentence that in the music video for “Talk ***, Get Shot”, Ice-T and Body Count echo the sentiments that multitudes of hip-hop heads have been vocalizing on various hip-hop forums for years now: that rap music has gone soft (although, can we be honest that Drake is actually pretty awesome?).
, the first Body Count album in eight years, is Ice’s rejuvenated mission statement and a PSA of bringing back an old-school rap-metal sound to hip-hop, drawing forth lazy but apt comparisons to Rage Against the Machine and to a probably closer extent, Biohazard. Body Count’s album exists in a vacuum squarely set in 1992-1996, never quite venturing into nu-metal territory but veering dangerously close. And why wouldn’t it? Nu-metal produced some pretty ***in’ good tunes.
Rather, it sets itself in the early eons of rap-rock, which for the most part unsuccessfully blended the two with slow, stunted flows and big, chunky guitar riffs that never quite built up to anything. Yet Body Count have perfected the formula here. Ice-T goes straight back to 1991 circa “New Jack Hustler” and drops hard-as-*** rhymes about the thug life over colossal, larger-than-life if generic riffs and strong, drumming. Manslaughter
is actually a pretty good listen if the inherent cheesiness is embraced with full abandon and not a hint of cynicism. Songs like the aforementioned single and “Wanna be A Gangsta” are highly enjoyable jams full of verve and attitude.
Unfortunately, the album just pulls some stupid *** in its attempts to sound harder than your average rapper. The faux-death growls on the title track reek of misplaced edginess while the rest of the song spouts hokey tripe about the “feminization of America” (way to be super-phobic there and set both hip-hop and metal back a decade). Meanwhile, Ice-T’s posturing on “Institutionalized 2014” just comes off as cringe-worthy. It sparks memories of angry high-schoolers trying to be problematic but only showcasing themselves as silly. Overall that seems to be the biggest problem here, is the posturing. It either presents itself as a hyper-exaggerated piece of macho bull*** that just ends up being worth a few chuckles, or it can actually end up sounding hyper-aggressive, misogynistic and threatening. Maybe taking the subtle approach would have been better, because Manslaughter
takes the very idea of subtle and throws it out the window, shoots it in a drive-by, and pisses on its grave, whether that be for better or worse.
The thing is, Ice-T and by extension the rest of Body Count, will probably/In all likelihood never read this review. In fact, they’ve probably put a call-to-arms (so to speak) against internet critics lambasting them even in the slightest, and that makes perfect sense. If that sort of stance further solidifies the idea that they are indeed, hard as ***, then Body Count have achieved the theoretical goal. Ice-T has cemented the iconography of Body Count into a weird place, a cross between a call-to-arms for both rap and conventional rock music to become uncompromising beasts again and retrograde nostalgia for a music scene that existed in its own sort of vortex (does anyone seriously think Dog Eat Dog will have some lasting influence on music as a whole?). Manslaughter
is basically the personification of Body Count’s vision for the future of music: the death of Drake (even though Drake is still dope) and the rise of Ice (Cube or T, take your pick), and a heaping helping of unwarranted machismo. Soft as baby-wipe artists need not apply, because these guys will commit some serious manslaughter.