Ice-T expresses no shame over his past days as a pimp, bank robber, and street hustler. In the same respect, he exudes pride in the path he took to overcome that life, a feat possible in part to his commitment to hip-hop and study of another criminal convert, Iceberg Slim. Ice discovered the reformed pimp’s literature in high school, and found that reading it not only made the rapper feel “cool” with the crowd, but demonstrated how any man – broken, misguided or forgotten – could turn tragedy into treasure.
As executive producer of the new documentary Iceberg Slim: Portrait of a Pimp, Ice tells theGrio he hopes that same message will come across to those unfamiliar with Slim’s story and novels. “A lot of misguided kids read [his books] and wanted to pimp and wanted to be like him,’” Ice recalls. “There was a point in my life when I realized – wait a minute, this guy’s a writer. If I really idolize him, I need to document the game, not just live it. That’s the way it kind of fashioned my storytelling, and my writing techniques, and my rap music.”
The Law & Order: SVU star modeled his rap style after the authenticity he found in Slim’s books. He appreciated the pimp’s visionary tales of navigating a brutal, unremorseful reality in search of higher power. Ice forced his followers to get past the idea it was cool or glamorous to be a criminal, and acknowledge the truth behind his hustle.
Sex as a commodity
Ice really does love Coco
He recalls surprising Austin with tales of his old ways, much in the fashion Slim gradually revealed himself to his own wife. “Coco’s got her insight on me spread out over 13 years,” he points out. “She didn’t get it all in one day.” On the subject of gun violence in America, which is at the center of ‘Assaulted,’ the former gangster admits he needs a weapon. He argues that America’s founding fathers were “crazy,” and set a dark precedent that made guns a necessity from the onset. “I’m not really into the Second Amendment,” Ice explains. “I’m not really truly into the Constitution if you really want to know. On the same piece of paper that says you have the right to bear arms, it also says you have the right to own black people…There were insane people signing that piece of paper so the whole damn thing should be void.”