Ice-T, onetime south-central LA street hood and now the chief practitioner of a searing hip-hop subgenre called gangster rap, is a stolid rapper and a fairly unimaginative writer. He has yet to come up with a classic track, though his work on the title theme from Colors and his contribution to the New Jack City sound track, "New Jack Hustler," come close. His music--unadorned tales of violent street life over an arid, almost detached rap backing--is the musical equivalent of an LA ghetto's hazy glare, and quite effective; more important, however, is his symbolic position as the smartest of the west-coast rappers, and the one who's grown the most as well: he's been slowly overcoming his penchants for dis-ing gays and women to become a responsible voice of ghetto frustration. But he's going to have to start dealing with the larger contradictions of mouthing gangsterisms as his sophistication grows. (And it is growing: he's an articulate black spokesman who's even started to rap about his real estate investments, and now he's got a thing for speed metal--his hard-core aggregation, Body Count, is touring with him.) Until then he's just another fascinating example of the myriad forms of pathology running around the rap world these days. Tuesday, 7 and 11 PM, Cabaret Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 549-0203.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Glen Friedman.