Ah, the summer. As if there needed to be a seasonal excuse to listen to some down home style great rap music. No excuse, no yearly time is best, but, there is something about the heat, about driving around with open windows blasting country-fried rap tunes on a a hot as hell day that just makes it all feel so right. It's just great listening weather.
Now the uninitiated ask, what are Country Rap Tunes? Short answer: basically any song the late, great Pimp C would declare to be a Country Rap Tune. Short description: southern, usually more organic sounding beats, leaning more towards live instrumentation, sometimes an organ, sometimes a sung hook, sometimes none of this applies. Except the southern part, but that only applies 95 percent of the time. For those of you finding your way here from www.borntobenervous.blogspot.com, I'll describe the music putting forth the same down home, back porch type good vibes--although with a slightly different aesthetic--that's you'd get from listening to King Harvest or Rockin' Chair or anything else off The Band's second album. Let's not get it twisted, it doesn't mean country singers rapping, or rappers singing country. That's not it at all. Big K.R.I.T. lays it out pretty well on the first track, and it should give you a general idea of the musical and lyrical themes that follow.
1. Country Shit - Big K.R.I.T. 2. Straight Cadillac Pimping - 8Ball MJG 3. Still Throwing D's - Rich Boy feat. Ray Cash 4. Lacville '79 - Devin The Dude 5. Bump And Grill - UGK feat. N.O. Joe 6. How Does It Feel To Ya - Coo Coo Cal 7. From The South - Z-Ro 8. Money And The Power - Scarface 9. Burbons And Lacs - Master P 10. County Bounce - Freddie Gibbs 11. N Luv Wit My Money - Paul Wall and Chamillionaire 12. Be Easy - T.I. 13. The Pimp And The Bun - UGK feat. Ronald Isely 14. Rick Ross Horns - E-40 feat Mary James 15. Backyard Mississippi - Goodie Mob feat. 8Ball 16. Seven Tre - Jackie Chain 17. Smoke On - ESG 18. Ball N' Parlay - Big Pokey feat Lil Keke, Mr. 3-2, and Big Moe 19. Ballers - Gucci Mane feat. Shawnna
Oil leaks, flotillas, North vs. South Korea getting ready to roll, Al and Tipper Gore calling it quits, guess which one directly relates to Ice-T?
Here's a clue: "you think I give a fuck about some silly bitch named Gore? Yo PMRC, here we go: WAR"
In 1989, Ice-T released his third album, "The Iceberg/Freedom of Speech." On it, he railed against Tipper Gore, then head of the PMRC, whose sole contribution to America was the Parental Advisory Sticker, which I sincerely thank her for. Without it, I would not have been able to figure out which cd's had swear words and were therefore worthy of being in my collection*. It's actually amazing to look back and think I bought this album, and many, many more with the sticker on them at such a young age. I had to be 11 when I bought this and the Soundtrack to Juice, both great, and both with a few messages an 11 year old boy needed to hear. I remember MC Pooh's Sex Money And Murder off the Juice Soundtrack, the chorus, "sex from your bitch, money from the crack, murder is a hobby that I had since way back," it just kinda sticks in that eleven-year old brain.
But I digress, Ice-T's Iceberg/Freedom of speech. On it, Ice-T not only continues his to rhyme with vivid detail about drug dealing, pimping, bizarre sexual situations, how good he is at rapping, but he also adds censorship to the list of myriad topics. And he makes a classic album out of it. Unlike Luke, who more or less stumbled into his own 1st Amendment related controversy and played it out for album sales, Ice-T was angry. And listening to this album again, not only can you hear his outrage, but lurking deep in some of the songs lays a brooding sense of doom. There is a sincerity to his rage that shows his fear for the future of American self-expression. Have no illusions about the character or Ice-T in the rap world, he is not that guy on this album, he takes a step sideways, still playing the role of the gangster on some songs, but throughout the whole album, he remains an artist deeply fearful of the governments willingness and ability to censor his output.
The opening track, a spoken word piece by Jello Biaffra, sets the tone for the album by imagining a near-futuristic society under totalitarian rule with no self-expression. It's a little extreme, but this is an album full of extremes. On a skit called Black N' Decker, Ice-T and crew imagine what it would sound like to drill a hole through somebody's head, beating Wu-Tang to the punch ont he whole, spoken skits about how to torture a dude by five years. On the sex exploits songs, Ice-T seems to be more offensive than anything he's done before, Girls LGBNAF sounds like it's about holding hands compared to his story about what he and this girl did on a broken sky lift.
In many ways, he's pushing it as far as it can go, but it never comes off as too offensive. There's been a lot of rappers with a hell of a lot of charisma, but no one, no one, had charisma like Ice-T back then. On one song, he tell Columbus Georgia that "they aint a nothing but a fucking piece of shit on the damn map" with such anger you can't help turning down the stereo, but later, on "My Word Is Bond" he and his buddies are rapping and bragging about money and respect with such tenderness, you want to be in the room with them. Ice-T never looses his humor, telling us:
The other day I spent a million on a def gold chain It weighted thirty nine pounds, my name plate the same I put it on, it was too heavy So I hired me this brother to wear for me One night, we was out chillin, he and I minus crew I was held at gun point by a thug's .22 But when I told him that I was the L.A. player Ice-T The brother robbed somebody else and brought the money to me You might think I'm lyin' but man, you're wrong As I told you before, my word is bond.
And finally, if you don't follow Ice-T on twitter you should. Two great incidents: 1) Aimme Mann tweeted something to the effect of "Christ, there is no reason in the world anyone should ever have cast Ice T in a television show." Ice-T replied, "Hey @aimeemann stop worry bout my acting bitch, and worry about your WACK ass music. In the mean time...Eat a hot bowl of dicks!" Then, just to let us know, Ice T tweeted to all his followers he hit her with a "HEAD SHOT!"
2) After hearing the news about the Gores Ice-T tweeted "Tipper Gore. Hahahahahaha! Kick rocks bitch!!" Then a few tweets later compared disgraced career to that of Charlton Heston and former and now deceased LA police cheif (who presided over CRASH, operation Hammer, and the LA Riots Daryl Gates.
*I'm curious, I always thought the design of the sticker to convey exactly the meaning of the sticker. Let's let justinthomaskay get into that one.