The Joup Friday Album: Ice T – Power

powerLet’s have some fun. This isn’t going to be my usual, long-winded rendition of a Friday Album because, frankly, I’m exhausted. I’ve recently realized that I’m suffering from sleep deprivation – self-induced by pigheadedness and probably going on a duration of four years now – and it’s adding up something fierce. There are questions as to whether or not I’m spending parts of my day in drifting fugue states; luckily I haven’t gone out to a 711 naked yet or wound up trading bullets with a whacked-out meth psycho, but then again, who knows? What I do know is that this weekend I need to get some rest and then re-think my priorities on sleep. In the interim however, I intend to have some fun, and what better way to have fun on a Friday than with some old school rap.

And I mean old school. 1988. That would be the year this came out and it was around that time, at the age of about 12 I discovered Ice T and, in a broader sense, rap. Now, over the intervening two decades I’ve grown increasingly removed from hip hop – there’s still a lot of great underground stuff but the mainstream is so bad – musically and in terms of fashion and lifestyle* –  that for me it’s affected hip hop in general. What used to mean bounce now means lethargy (drake I’m looking at you. Wordsmith you are not sir). What used to mean passion means phoning it in. What used to mean edge now means hot topic. But even before hip hop imploded on itself, before the genius of Tribe and early Cypress and Digable, I often forget there was a very big difference between hip hop and rap.

This my friends, is rap.

Not Ice’s best record – in my mind that would probably be reserved for 1991’s OG Original Gangster, where Ice grew up a bit, got rid of the hokey sex rhymes and really honed in on his beliefs, themes and most importantly lyrical flow/content. But Power takes me back. I heard it again recently for the first time in damn near 20 years – my tape dub is LONG since lost to the aethers of time – and just as I suspected I can still rap all of High Rollers from memory. Calculating percentages has come and gone several times but High Rollers? I got this…

Production wise this record is a little rough, because, well, this was before rap was a multi-billion dollar, culturally acceptable institution and thus crafted in multi-million dollar studios, with elaborate equipment, producers, etc. But there’s passion here, and some ingenuity and I’m happy to trade tit for tat with this, especially in terms of the samples. Check out Personal and its use of that slick-ass guitar riff from Heart’s Magic Man (one of the greatest rock songs from the 70s, btw). There’s also Curtis Mayfield all over this mother. I didn’t know that in 1987, but thanks to Ice T I know that now.

Okay, back to work. But later tonight, believe me when I tell you I’ll be traveling back in time again and digging this vintage piece of rap history.

Tag Chester.

*Oh how I hate that word and what it represents.

Shawn C Baker

Shawn C Baker

Shawn lives in Los Angeles where he co-hosts Drinking w/ Comics, writes screenplays and fiction and has been known to drink quite a bit of beer. Good beer.

One Response to The Joup Friday Album: Ice T – Power
  1. Tommy Reply

    Aw yeah!

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