Only thing uglier than last weeks voting is seeing your grandma naked first thing in the morning. In other words, it wasn’t a pretty sight. Ice-T breaks the myth that first albums are always the best, as his fourth album, OG Original Gangster, easily took it to his debut album, Rhyme Pays. It comes to no surprise really, as everyone kept mentioning the fact that OG was Ice’s best album, something which I’ve come to agree with.
Final Result: OG – Alot Rhyme Pays – Not many
So we have the two winners from the past two weeks. I think it’s pretty obvious that in terms of quality, both Power and OG are Ice T’s best work. I’ve already dissected each album and told my personal anecdotes concerning both albums, so all there really is to do is to let the two albums battle it out.
Power Vs. O.G. Original Gangster
- Power might just be Ice-T’s most focused album. Coming in with 10 solid tracks (minus the intro and outro and the spoken word type song “Soul On Ice”), every track can stand on it’s own. There is no fast forwarding material to be found on the album. This tape will forever been retired in my rap tapes as all the lettering was erased from the tape. I had to put a white out mark on Side A to be sure which side was which.
- Tracks like “Drama” highlight why Ice was one of the best story tellers in the game not named Slick Rick. Sure, his story telling skills are showcased on everyone of his albums, but I always thought the story telling joints found on Power were some of his best:
Cruisin’ for a bruisin’, I’m talkin’ no crap
Pipe bomb in my trunk, got a nine in my lap
I’m layin’ for a sprayin’, tonight there’s no playin’
My posse’s most strapped, tonight the crew’s weighin’
Dust is burnin’, the steering wheel’s turnin’
I’m out a week, I’m already earnin’
Suckers crossed, tonight it’s their loss
Payback time, boy, life’s the cost
Gauges out the window, one lay cross the roof
They all die if those suckers ain’t bullet proof
I’m rollin’ death tollin’, of course the car’s stolen
But I’m blind to what’s wrong, all I want is what’s golden
A fool in a fight, too dumb to know right
Fuckin’ blue light-read’em their rights
You feel like you are riding shotgun with Ice as you roll through the night looking for the punk sucka ducks that took your boy’s life. That was one of Ice’s strengths, he put you right there with him.
- “High Rollers” and “I’m Your Pusher” are both classic singles from the Drama LP. The video for “High Rollers” was a favorite on “Yo! MTV Raps”, which showed the high life being lived by Ice’s character in the video. The ending shows the fast life catching up with Ice
The message found on “High Rollers” is one that still needs to be spoken on today. That was the beauty about Ice’s music, he had the gangster tales, but he also had the other side of the story which wasn’t covered by a lot of the other gangster rappers out there.
Then of course, you have the infamous “I’m Your Pusher”, which employs an infectious Curtis Mayfield groove. As Ice once again tackles social ills in a somewhat humorous way, the listener is at the mercy of the groove as Ice plays a dealer slangin’ rap tapes instead of drugs. Then of course, the infamous LL Cool J jab that started the LL/Ice T beef, which was good for some entertainment.
-As mentioned before, Ice used familiar breaks and grooves, which at the time added an extra familiarity and comfortable level to the album. You couldn’t get away with this today, but back then, he would be one of the first to use a lot of the samples, which anyone who was into funk and soul would immediately recognize.
-I’ve never been one to care about the length of an album, but others do. As mentioned, the album is really only 10 tracks long, which can lead people to bitch about.
-If you weren’t into the west coast sound at the time, I doubt this album would do much for you. As we all kn
ow, heads from the east coast weren’t always the most open to the west coast sounds in the day.
-The album hasn’t aged well, with all the familiar samples dotting it’s soundscape. A lot of these samples have been used ad nauseum since the album came out.
- 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.
The Final Verdict
I can see this easily going to way of the first two weeks, with OG delivering a knock out blow. Or it could be rather close. I guess what I’m saying, is I’m not completely sure how it’s going to end up. Both albums, as mentioned already, contain his best work. Power is a short and focused album, containing classic tracks such as “High Rollers”, “Drama”, and the title track. On the other hand, you have a more diverse Ice T on OG Original Gangsters, that covers more ground and has a broader spectrum of music. Both are very good albums, yet, I think we’ll see OG prevail.
Predicted Winner: OG Original Gangster