Ice-T has been on both sides of the law, playing a detective on Law & Order and releasing a song in 1992 titled "Cop Killer" with his band Body Count. For more than 30 years, Ice-T has made music and starred in everything from horror movies to comedies to cop dramas. Both his music and TV detective work have imitated real life, and he accomplished all of this without having a drink - because, as he says, sobriety gives him an "advantage."
There are plenty of little-known Ice-T trivia and facts - take a look at some interesting things you may not have known about the man behind Detective Fin Tutuola of the Special Victims Unit.
Be Somebody... or Be Somebody's Fool! was a 1984 special starring Mr. T that went straight to home video. It offered a motivational message for kids about avoiding peer pressure, respecting elders, and building self-confidence. Though some may consider the show's concept cheesy, it was decent enough for Ice-T to get involved. He described his experience to Vanity Fair:
I was just starting out: I wasn't Ice-T on Law & Order with money in the bank, I was Ice-T needing some money! And people forget, but at the time, Mr. T was the sh*t! He was like The Rock back in the day. You couldn't get hotter than Mr. T. He had his own cereal and everything! But when they said, "Mr. T wants to do a rap album, can you teach Mr. T to rap?" my brain said, "This guy might kick my *ss or some sh*t like that if I try to tell him to rap in a different way!"
So they gave me the titles of the songs, and I wrote 'em - somewhere there's actual tapes of me doing all his songs - and I gave the tapes to him. Well, a month or so later, we got in the studio... and Mr. T ain't listened to 'em at all! So we just tried to make him rap, but if you said, "Nah," he'd say, "That's how I say it! That's my style!" And what are you gonna do, you know? So they were able to manage to produce the record with a little studio magic. Hey, man, it's called payin' dues in Hollywood!
Ice-T used to appreciate The Walking Dead for what it was, but since he now feels the series has dragged on too long, he has switched sides. He told Vanity Fair, "I was a big Walking Dead fan when it first came on, and now the story, they've worked it so many different ways that now I watch it backward: I root for the zombies. The kid with the hat [Carl Grimes] and the Black guy with the stick [Morgan Jones]? I watch the show with the intention of watching one of them die. That's my sh*t."
Spoiler: Since the interview, Ice-T may have gotten his wish granted.
Robert Beck, AKA Iceberg Slim, was a pimp-turned-author whose novels became movie adaptations, inspiring future generations of artists like Ice Cube and Ice-T, both of whom derive their stage name from Iceberg. Ice-T's birth name was Tracy Marrow, but he quickly eschewed the name for Trey, saying in his memoir that he considered Tracy a girl's name.
During an interview with Ice-T, the host of Talk of the Nation on NPR said, "Ice-T says he idolized Slim in high school - and even tried his own luck at pimping. But then, he says, it dawned on him that the author he admired so much was an author first."
In the same NPR interview, Ice-T added, "I'm like, if I really want to be like him, instead of worrying about really living it out, let me document the game. That's why I respect [Slim]."
Ice-T also discussed his music with the host: "I couldn't possibly have lived all the things that Ice-T on the records lived. I did what I called 'faction.' It was like factual situations - not always from me - put into fictional settings. That way I could create these great adventures and these great stories."
If you consider it ironic that a man who wrote a song named "Cop Killer" went on to play a cop on TV since 2000, you're not alone. However, as Ice-T said in an interview with International Business Times, he doesn't think there's anything strange about it:
The fact that I can pull off a real, legitimate detective when I'm about as far from a cop as you can f*ckin' get, that's acting. And when people say, well, you did "Cop Killer," I'm like, I was acting there, too, I haven't killed any cops. And I remember even back in the day when we were doing "Cop Killer," I was like, "You guys are taking this record a little too serious." If you notice on the next record, I kill my mother and dismember her over racism. This isn't real. This is the wild movies we used to see on Saturdays where the guy would go in his trunk and he'd pull out a rocket launcher, it was blowout.
Ice-T explained further in a Noisey interview: "The thing about being on SVU is we're going after child molesters and rapists. So I'm not bustin' anybody in the gray area. I'm bustin' real scum. They don't even like them in prison. So if I gotta play a cop, lemme be an SVU detective."