It was at this juncture when Ice-T met the forefather of the hip-hop culture itself, the legendary Afrika Bambaataa who was the spiritual presence behind the almighty Zulu Nation and was indoctrinated into the philosophy of their movement and soon he met Afrika Islam an early groundbreaking DJ and the New York Spinners Evil-E and Hen-G. All of whom he would forge great professional relationships with in the future. The unity he formed with the east coast fused an early symbolic bicoastal sound with the track "Colder Than Ever" with east's heavier bass and Ice's Swiss-like lyrics
"The East started breakin' but the West started poppin'
But what does it matter as long as it's rockin'
A ghetto's a ghetto, a street's a street
A hip is a hop and a beat is a beat
So let's all get down."
At local LA club called Radio, modelled of the Roxy's 'Wheels of Steel' night resident performers Ice-T who was a renowned kingpin on the mic at the time would collaborate with the DJ Afrika Islam every night making it an infamous hotspot for west coast locking dancers and b-boys, hardcore hip-hoppers and gangsters. Fellow artist Kid Frost and his Chicano homies rolled up to the venue in lowriders sporting Pendleton shirts and khakis and introduce their brand of Latino pride. It was here where Carson Blood gang affiliated Samoans brothers (related by blood) pranced their Strutting dance moves and called themselves the Blue City Strutters, later they would be better known as the hardcore gangsta rap group Boo-Yaa TRIBE.
In 1984 two years after recording his first twelve-inch record, Ice-T was invited to star in Breakin' and Breakin' II Electric Bugaloo - Hollywood's depiction of the west coast's rap scene. Although Ice-T had developed an acting interest he would not resume this facet of his career again until 1991 he was to first establish himself as an accomplished recording artist.
When T was offered a recording contract with Sire Records, a subsidiary company to parent Time Warner, he formed unity with some of L.A.'s finest underground rappers, DJs and associates calling them the Rhyme Syndicate. Original members were Evil E, Hen Gee, DJ Unknown, DJ Aladdin, the Son of Bambaataa (Afrika Islam), Everlast (of House of Pain), Donald D and Toddy Tee. Rhyme Syndicate was soon turned into Ice's production company hiring some of the original members as sound engineers, DJs and performers. Afrika Islam became the most prominent member of Rhyme Syndicate Productions, mixing and producing Ice-T's first three highly-acclaimed records. They were Ice's posse and they all contributed to his albums and they all got paid. The first project under Rhyme Syndicate became Ice-T's "6'n the Morning" produced by Islam and DJ Unknown a producer of electro-funk who worked alongside Dre and the World Class Wreckin' Cru before producing for Compton's Most Wanted. Ice-T's hit is considered to be the signal for the ground-breaking reality-rap or Gangsta Rap before NWA would claim to have started it with their 'Boyz N Tha Hood'. It was a song inspired by Schoolly D's, "PSK" and was introduced in his début album, Rhyme Pays a gritty, very realistic-rap album with Ice-T delivering a very concise and charismatic performance as renowned throughout his work that blended well with the rolling, distinct beats and accompanying sample tracks from Afrika Islam and DJ Aladdin's production. 'Rhyme Pays' was released in 1987 by Sire Records. It hit the streets and went gold within a year. By 1988 Rhyme Syndicate worked out an entire album demonstrating their persistently social-defiant lyrical assault called, 'Rhyme Syndicate Comin' Through'. Executive producers for the album were Rhyme Syndicate's own Ice-T and Benny Medina and all tracks mixed by Afrika Islam. Many of the Syndicate members evolved into solo, world-stage artists with flourishing careers within the industry.
Later that same year, Ice-T was commissioned to record the title track for Dennis Hopper's new film, Colors depicting gang-life in inner-city Los Angeles. The song showed a new direction for Ice-T. His music and lyrics were both harder than ever, a cold-steel, militant approach to his rap. This became the new South Central gang-anthem, as Ice-T explores further into the limitation of his instinctive reality-rap format. This had earned Ice-T the strong street-rap as the baddest west coast rapper. In 1988 Ice-T released his follow-up record, Power which was a more polished achievement and gave his sophomore strong reviews and would soon become his second gold record.
Freedom of Speech
Ice's third album, The Iceberg/Freedom of Speech...Just Watch What You Say was released in 1989 and confirmed Ice as a true bi-coastal hip-hop luminary. He managed to blend his politically fuelled, cold-steel-like reality-rap with razor-sharp narration. The album carried an uncharacteristic dark and damp atmosphere with spare beats and bleak backing tracks making this record the darkest score of Ice's recordings. Freedom of Speech was used as a vehicle for driving out his opinions on social and political topics.
The album opens with a distorted guitar's heavy, deep sound laid down under spoken word narration from Jello Biafra on 'Shut Up, Be Happy' in which we envision a destructive society of lawlessness living precariously on the edge of Martial Law where there is no Freedom of Speech rights starting the strong debate of censorship in music, a fight that would pick off Ice-T's plate for his whole recording career. The second track is 'The Iceberg' which shows a dark-humoured personality of Ice-T's Rhyme Syndicate posse. The song alternates between clichéd violent allegories and comical sexually-oriented situations involving various Syndicate members. 'Lethal Weapon' was another track full of Ice-T's infamous hardcore violent allegory like this:
"If you're in my way, you'll lay beneath the ground soon
Violence is my business fool, the microphone of doom
Mission that's to cure all punks as I bust caps
Peelin ya back, my ammunition hollow-point raps"
"The Weapon power has been witnessed upon my page
From Martin Luther's dream to Hitler's psycho rage."
- These lyrics explain the underlining message behind the song that the mind is the most powerful weapon. "You Played Yourself" became an apparent self-awareness track, an up-beat tempo explaining the do's and don'ts of entering the recording industry advising us not to get exploited like so many aspiring black artists. "Peel Their Caps Back" takes us right into the depths of hell in the ghetto's dark reality. Here Ice-T narrates about committing a drive-by shooting to avenge his slain friend in a retaliatory act of senseless gang-violence. In the end of the track the main character is killed off and the media dismiss the whole event as just another gang-related murder. The omnipresence of at least one sexually-explicit rhyme on every album was there in the twisted form of 'The Girl Tried to Kill Me' in which he reveals an encounter with an aggressive female. A radio-friendly version of the single was released,) with a guitar riff, different drumbeat and revised lyrics (some say better) and although the lyrics were without the swearing, the message was still quite apparent.