Ice-T, Greatest Hits: The Evidence (2000)
If there is one rapper in need of reappraisal, it’s Ice-T. Back in the late 80s and early 90s, the prototypical Los Angeles rapper was one of rap music’s biggest stars; today, his music doesn’t garner more than a snicker from heads who claim he “fell off.” It’s true that Ice-T’s penchant for justifying his odes to the gangster life by ending on a cautionary note is decidedly passé; with its basic 808-driven beats, his music sounds simple compared to today’s rap. But at his best – especially the 1988 classic Power – he brought a strong personality to his records, infusing them with a sense of glamour and urgency. Tracks like “High Rollers” sound far more realistic than today’s thugs who brag about their imagined exploits. Like Iceberg Slim, the famous pimp-turned-writer he took his name from, Ice-T imparted knowledge he already possessed, not fantasies he wished to experience. “6 N’ the Mornin’,” “I’m Your Pusher,” “Colors,” “New Jack Hustler” – all classics that deserve to be reheard, all found on Ice-T’s retrospective Greatest Hits: The Evidence. To his credit, some of his less successful work from albums like The 7th Deadly Sin and VI: Return of the Real are also included. While “The Lane” is an unsuspected surprise, these later tracks demonstrate why Ice-T lost favor with rap fans: they sound too slow and methodical. There’s also a glaring omission: “Cop Killer,” his famously banned riposte from his Body Count album. When this compilation was released, Ice-T’s popularity was at a low ebb. He’s been given plenty of flowers in the decades since. Atomic Pop.