Review Summary: As oxymoronic as the term “political gangsta rap” might sound, it’s the best way to describe this album.
Back in 1989, the climate of hip hop was changing and the fun, playful rhymes of Run DMC were starting to lose steam. The gangsta rap movement was in full swing with Eazy-E, Schooly D and NWA along with the politically charged rhetoric of Public Enemy. But with all the violence in hip-hop music, the genre came under scrutiny by the recently formed Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC) and rapper Ice-T took the opportunity to strike back.
Taking his name from urban fiction writer Iceberg Slim, (from who he also adopted his pimp persona ) Ice-T once again pays homage to his hero by naming his third album after him. On “The Iceberg,”
Ice-T continues with his typical pimp tales and violent gangsta raps but now with all the controversy surrounding the lyrical content in hip-hop, Ice-T has something else to focus on and he proceeds to try and put the fire out… with a can of gasoline. Going after PMRC founder Tipper Gore on “Freedom of Speech:”
Think I give a *** about some silly bitch named Gore"
Yo PMRC, here we go, raw
Yo Tip, what's the matter" You ain't gettin' no dick"
You're bitchin' about rock'n'roll, that's censorship, dumb bitch
The Constitution says we all got a right to speak
Say what we want Tip, your argument is weak
Angry at the perceived notion that his right to freedom of speech was not being held up as shown on the intro “Shut Up, Be Happy” done by none other than Dead Kennedys front man Jello Biafra who paints a bleak picture of an Orwellian society where the government has complete control of their citizens lives. “This One’s for Me” finds Ice-T sticking up for his good friends in Public Enemy after some anti-Semitic remarks landed them in hot water, Ice claims: “I got their backs if it means my career ends.” He also takes other rappers to task for not sticking up for Public Enemy asking: “Who's Chuck's real friends, does he really have one"” The last verse on this track blames the C.I.A. and F.B.I. for bringing drugs into the ghetto, a harsh accusation to be sure but all as intelligent as he sounds on tracks like these, Ice sounds pretty silly on tracks like the endless “What Ya Wanna Do"” With a hook consisting of Ice asking each of the ten(!) members of Rhyme Syndicate one by one “What you wanna do" (Party!).”
As far as subject matter, “The Iceberg”
is all over the place, from a sexual encounter with a dominatrix, the rock infused “The Girl Tried to Kill Me,” the silly boasts of “My Word is Bond” and the chilling violence of “Peel Their Caps Back.” The Iceberg is a strong but unfocused album and although Ice-T may not be the most lyrically gifted MC, he definitely has a lot to say and he does it adequately enough but is backed by the best production of his career courtesy of Afrika Islam. From the sped-up horns on the outstanding “Lethal Weapon” to the multiple James Brown samples, the production is top notch.
With “The Iceberg,”
Ice-T established himself as the top hip-hop spokesman along with Public Enemy’s Chuck D he spit in the face of censorship and denounced drugs and gang violence that where affecting the African-American youth. Although not his best album, Ice-T showed great intellect and no fear of expressing himself as well as attacking the government, radio stations who wouldn’t play hip-hop and other MC’s, not for being wack but for not having Public Enemy’s back. Truly one of the great hip-hop minds.
This One’s for Me
Peel Their Caps Back