Book Review: Ice-T's memoir is as cool as the author
- Title: Ice: A Memoir of Gangster Life and Redemption - from South Central to Hollywood
- Written by: Tracy 'Ice T' Marrow
A lot of vocalists sing and rap about situations and events they have not experienced. Ice-T isn't one of them. One of the first 'gangsta rappers', Ice-T rhymed about hustling, banging and pimping on the mean streets of south-central Los Angeles.
Turns out, the lyrics Ice-T spewed, first as a solo rapper and later as the frontman of the thrash-metal outfit Body Count, were the musings of a man who has lived them.
In his book, Ice: A Memoir of Gangster Life and Redemption - from South Central to Hollywood, Ice-T describes how he "rapped about the (stuff) I knew firsthand... To me, it was just the life I was living. If anyone asked me at the time, I called it 'reality rap'".
Based on that definition, let's call this a 'reality book' - a tell-all that really does tell all.
And it's as cool as its namesake.
'Ice' is full of vivid descriptions of the never-boring life of the man born Tracy Marrow.
Raised as an only child in New Jersey, he became a pre-teen orphan whose parents both died of heart attacks. Shipped to live with his alcoholic aunt in L.A., Marrow had a front-row seat for the early years of the West Coast gangs as a student at Crenshaw High School.
He eventually graduated to becoming a street hustler and thief who was shot at by a security guard and nearly killed in a car accident. Hospital officials didn't know who he was, since, as a criminal, he never carried identification.
Marrow served a nearly four-year stint in the army, stationed in Hawaii, where he credits an old-school sergeant with shaping his later career arc.
The Vietnam vet, referred to only as Donovan, screamed at Marrow that he was in the service simply because he couldn't make it in civilian life.
"More than anything else, that's the one statement that propelled me to where I'm at today. I give Sergeant Donovan all the credit," Ice-T writes.
'Ice' also provides readers with a behind-the-scenes look at his genesis as an actor, including how director Mario Van Peebles came across Ice-T in a club and hired him to portray an undercover cop in the influential early '90s flick, New Jack City.
These days, Ice-T is in his second decade as a star of NBC's Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, where the one-time law-breaker again is portraying a member of law enforcement.
He also speaks to inmates and at colleges around the country.
"Who could have imagined that an ex-hustler from Crenshaw Boulevard would be spitting game to Ivy League students," he writes.
Or becoming the author of a fascinating memoir, the pages of which are jam-packed with tales of a guy who "actively did everything I rhymed about."