I was chatting to my sister the other day and mentioned (what I thought was) the classic line from the film New Jack City*:
Wouldn’t wanna be ya, ABC ya!
This got us talking about Ice-T who is absolutely amazing in the film and, at the time, seemed unable to do any wrong. The same year that New Jack City came out, Ice-T released the album OG, which is probably his finest recording. Whilst undoubtedly a gangster rap album its tracks have a sense of humour and sense of social awareness which was often totally lacking in the work of many of the lesser artists who mistook recording boring raps about guns & bitches for quality.
Unlike the work of Ice Cube and Dre Dre, the two other arms of the gangster rap trinity, Ice-T’s work has a much more classic slant, in terms of its use of beats and samples, with a more up-tempo feel and no sign of the G-Funk that saturated the work of Dre in particular. The title track of the album is probably the perfect example of this, with its racing beat, use of guitar samples and insightful rhymes: in many ways it resembles a West Coast version of Public Enemy, though with cynicism replacing the ideology of the New York crew.
Now that Ice-T is better known for playing cops in TV shows and mainly remembered musically for the uproar he caused with his Cop Killer track it’s easy to forget how influential he was but I seem to remember Bono saying that he was amazed at how popular Ice-T was in LA in the early 90s: if I remember correctly he said that Ice-T was bigger than Jesus. And that’s not something that an Irish Catholic in the midst of a particularly religious phase, as Bono was at the time, would be likely to say unless he really meant it.
*According to IMDB the quote from New Jack City was actually
So see ya, and I wouldn’t wanna be ya.
And watching the clip of the film below it seems that IMDB is right. But I think I prefer mine – but can anyone tell me where I might have heard it or did I literally imagine it?!