Body Count’s debut self-titled single first appeared on Ice-T’s 1991 album OG: Original Gangster, which was followed by their debut album the following year. Fifteen years later, Ice-T’s metal side project is still releasing music. Murder 4 Hire is the band’s fourth album and the first in almost a decade.
Fifteen years ago, releasing a song about killing cops was enough to get you dropped from Warner Brothers and called out on public television by the President. These days, it seems mild compared in comparison to most of the entertainment we’re bombarded with. Murder 4 Hire covers such topics as assassination, chemical attacks and stalking which, while fifteen years ago may have seemed edgy, now simply seem like part of the act.
Ice’s band has a slightly different sound than we’ve heard in the past, which is to be expected — from the band’s original lineup, Beatmaster V (drums) died of Leukemia, Mooseman (bass) was shot in a drive-by, and D-Roc (rhythm guitar) died from lymphoma. Nobody said they’re not keeping it real, yo’. Ice’s new band featuring Vincent Price (bass), Bendrix (rhythm guitar) and OT (drums) has a slightly updated sound with a bit more song complexity and double bass than we’ve heard in the past, but shut out Ice’s vocal performance and you’re left with a not-very-hard hardcore band. But, for a metal backdrop on which to hang Ice-T’s vocal performance, it works. Ernie C, the band’s original lead guitarist (who should look very seriously into good life insurance) appears once again, injecting some old school flavor into new school songs.
Vocally Ice-T does what he does, singing and rapping over metalistic riffage. As with any established performer it’s hard not to think about Ice-T (the guy) while listening to Ice-T (the performer) and wonder why any pimpin’ multi-millionaire would consider shooting people for money. Ice delves into some introspective material on You Don’t Know Me and Relationships. Unlike much rap each song here has a specific topic, even if they’re not particularly deep ones. The low point of the album is Down in the Bayou. How ironic that his commentary on racism is stuck inside a song which stereotypes southerners. It’s too bad too, as the mix of metal with a lead harmonica hasn’t been done this well in a long time. You would think such a strong opponent of profiling wouldn’t stoop so low — there are many of us southern crackers who still shell out bucks for Body Count CDs.
Murder 4 Hire is good, not great. While a few of the tracks stand out, most of them seem a bit cheezy and insincere. After only a few listenings I found myself skipping more songs than normal. I don’t think this album has the longevity to stand as a testament to Ice-T as a performer both as a solo artist and with Body Count.
01. Invincible Gangsta
02. The End Game
03. You Dont Know Me (Pain)
04. The Passion Of Christ
05. In My Head
06. D Rocs (RIP)
07. Murder 4 Hire
08. Down In The Bayou
09. Dirty Bombs
12. Mr. Cs Theme