We had a slaughter in the voting last week. Ice T’s third album was decimated unceremoniously by voters and although the final count isn’t going to be tallied for a few more hours, it could be the largest margin we’ve seen on a “This Or That” post. I figured Power would win, but I didn’t think it’d be that big of a margin.
After reading last weeks comments, I’m not even sure I should run this week’s match up. Many of you said that Ice T’s O.G. Original Gangster was Ice’s best album. That lends me to believe this week might not be a good one for Ice’s debut album, Rhyme Pays. My introduction to Ice-T was like many others that were outside the New York and Los Angles areas, though his “Colors” track on the soundtrack of the Colors motion picture. I was immediately enamored by the track, which I would still say ranks up there with other classics. Due to the strength of that track, I would pick up his Rhyme Pays tape in the B.Y.M.R. (Before Yo! MTV Raps) time period. The way I would come across the tape was kind of humorous actually. If you are from a backwoods area such as myself, you know the significance of the State Fair has on the area. You had food, rides, and people from other parts of the state and all kinds of things being sold. This one particular year (I want to say it was ’87), there was some dude selling tapes. All kinds of tapes, and for cheap. I think I paid five bucks for Ice T’s Rhyme Pays album. I took it home and I noticed the front cover looked weird. It was all faded and kind of smudged. When I went to read the liner notes, there was none. The printing on the tape was already smudged. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the shit was a swap meet special, a bootleg. Soon, “6 n’ The Morning”, was one of my favorite songs and other tracks such as “Squeeze The Trigger”, “Somebody Gotta Do It” and the title track would become staples of my hip hop listening habits. It was the start of four great albums from Ice.
All this leads us to what some consider his last “great” album (I know some people out there like Home Invasion as well), O.G. Original Gangster. In some ways, O.G. is the accumulation of everything that ever worked on an Ice-T album. The album is well rounded with sex, gangsters and political statements. Everything that made Ice a staple in west coast hip hop music. I honestly can’t remember how and when I picked this up. I’m sure I got it the day it got released because I was pretty heavy into Ice T when it dropped, but I guess to many brain cells have been killed over the years and my memory isn’t what it once was. The album is, as some called it last week, a classic.
I think we all know how this match up is going to end up, but we’ll play along for the sake of the tournament. I offer:
- Rhyme Pays is one of the first west coast LP’s with gangster related topics found on it. It’s signature track of course is “6 ‘n The Morning”, which Ice willingly admits was significantly inspired by Schoolly D’s “P.S.K.”. The album helped put gangster rap on the SoCal map.
- While Ice wasn’t known for being the “flyest” rhymer ever to grace the mic, he could always make an album interesting lyrically, and this album is a prime example of that. The story telling on “6 ‘n The Morning” introduces Ice’s ability to tell a story to the world. It’s something that he would be known for all through his career:
Seen my homeboys coolin’ way out told ‘em bout my mornin’
Cold bugged’ em out shot allmenn little dice until my knees got sore
Kicked around some stories bout the night before
Possed to the corner where the fly girls chill
Through action at some freaks until one bitch got ill
She started actin’ stupid simply would not quit
Called us all punk pussies said we all weren’t shit
As we walked over to here hoe continued to speak
So we beat the bitch down in the god damn street
But just livin’ in the city a serious task
Bitch didn’t know what hit her didn’t have time to ask
- Musically, the album was a bridge of sorts between the electro sound and a more modern sound found on the west later on. A lot of Ice’s earlier tracks encorporated that early west coast sound, such as “Dog’n The Wax” and “The Coldest Rap”. Other tracks such as “Make It Funky” borrowed heavily from the east coast sound, something Ice was heavily influenced early in his career. But the album did have it’s own “sound” that at the time was probably underrated.
- Sadly, Rhyme Pays is one of those albums that hasn’t aged well. For reasons that I mentioned as positives, I also consider a negative detail as well.
- I’ve always considered the album some what unfocused. I’ve never heard the officially story behind it, but the album seemed somewhat rushed. It was fairly short. The OG tape release was only nine songs long. The CD contains some “bonus” stuff to beef up the length, but nothing major.
O.G. Original Gangster
- Quite possibly Ice’s most complete work to date. It’s also his longest album. Sometimes longer is better when it comes to hip hop albums. Ice tackles all sorts of topics and situations on the album. Sure there are some interlude type things and some short little skits, but even those add to the whole package. Tracks like “Ed”, “Ziplock”, or even “Home of the Body Bag” add texture and a fullness to the album that comes off like a complete package.
- Ice probably adapted his sound better on this album than he had with his other tracks. Let’s face it, you never really listened to an Ice-T album for it’s production values. A lot of times, Ice was lagging behind the times when it came to his production. This album though was as hard as the hardest gangster rap album out there at the time.
- If you were down with Ice’s heavy metal flavor, then you had to enjoy the track “Body Count”. Being a white kid in a white area, I grew up around all kinds of kids that were into the metal scene, so while it wasn’t my thing, I did appreciate it. I did like the track, as it’s message was one that was “about” me, but it was just one of the many tracks that would open my mind to a larger world out there. I’m sure I’m not the only lily white kid that had that happen to them.
- Of course the classic track, “New Jack Hustler”, is found on this album. Back in the day, I still made “Best of…” tapes at the end of each year and I seem to recall the track being in the top 3 of ’91. The video was also a big on “Yo! MTV Raps” back in the day.
- There are so many great songs found on the LP, it’s hard to pick one. The albums title track was a track that had a video found on Yo! as well, and one that I played a ton of times. “The Tower” was another track, although buried toward the end of a 24 track album, it would also get consideration for my favorites.
- Ice’s gangster stories didn’t end on OG neither. “Midnight” might be his best of the series of tracks that found their way on everyone of his albums up to that point. The Led Zeppelin drums served as a hard backdrop over an eerie electric guitar. Once again, you are transfered into the dark streets of L.A. as Ice and his boys try to get through the night:
We boned down Vernon Right on Normandie Left on Florence Gettin’ thru the E.T.G.’s Spun out on Vermont Made a left on Colden Right on Hoover E where we goin’? He didn’T even answer that Checked the reaar view They were still out back Where were these brothers from? What made these brothers come Bang! our back window Was removed by a shotgun Now Hen G was shot Don caught a ricochet These motherfuckers was ill They didn’t come to play Bust a right turn, parked and then we got left Hid in the the bushes Shot the gas tank to fake death But would this really Keep them psyched? Three of us bleedin’ It was ten past midnight!
- While I’m searching for negatives, the only one I can really bring up is maybe trimming a couple tracks off of the album, namely “Pulse of the Rhyme”, which I always skipped.
As I mentioned earlier, we are just pitting these two albums together just to go through the motions. It’s obvious which one will win. While listening to O.G. some more, I realized just how great the album is. Not that hadn’t realized that before, but this really should be one of the top 50 hip hop albums there has ever been. It’s obvious when I set this tournament up, I saw Power as the superior album, but yeah, my minds been changed. Rhyme Pays is a good start for the Iceberg, but it’s no match for O.G.
Winner: O.G. Original Gangster