& & by Tiina Teal & & & &
Whose who control the past create the future. In the musical realm, hip-hop was birthed from the streets, taking the creative power back from the historical giants and inventing an entirely new artistic genre, which forever changed the future of the music industry. Being one of the godfathers and early pioneers of rap music, the multi-faceted Ice-T will be speaking about the future of music at Spokane Falls Community College on Friday. He will bring his always unique viewpoint to our area, with local hip-hop group the Fourth Dimension opening the event.
But why Ice-T? Why not a supposed "expert" from the college lecture circuit?
"Ice-T is extremely articulate with something to say," states Justin Core, coordinator for Student Activities and Recreation at SFCC, "as opposed to bringing in someone who just has the name, isn't as articulate and doesn't have the background."
The various student groups got together and decided on Ice-T, who is well known for his diverse, influential speaking skills. "Music is so popular and is a critical component of the learning process and also socially outside of the classroom," continues Core. "With music moving onto the Internet, people need to come out and hear what a pop icon like Ice-T has to say about where it's going."
To many, the Internet conjures up images of conspiracy theories and Big Brother knowing every move you make. To Ice-T, however, it is another way of beating the system. He first experimented by giving a song to MP3.com for fans to download for free. After receiving over 100,000 e-mails, he realized the incredible potential for connecting with people through the Web. He found the immediate communication and feedback from fans refreshingly different than the usual isolation experienced from the typical record label promotional process or fan clubs. He then released an Internet-only album on the AtomicPop label, to test the waters and monitor the results.
Sales were decent, but people were still going to record stores asking for the new Ice-T album. These yin-yang experiences inspired Ice-T to form his own Internet label, CoronorRecords.com, which will combine the best of both retail and computer worlds. Coronor's artists will have Internet-only albums available, but there will also be an offline compilation in the works to be sold in stores that will help promote the artists, their albums and the label's online presence. This method bypasses much of the promotional costs, distributors and heavy corporate salaries, leaving a larger profit percentage for the artists and more creative control over their careers.
It is evident that Ice-T has always been a forerunner of many major trends. His highly controversial hard-rock band, Body Count, fused the metal-rap musical combination in 1992 that is now Top 40 fare with bands like Limp Bizkit and Korn popularizing the style. Body Count was approached to perform on the first alternative but soon-to-be-mainstream Lollapalooza festival tour. Having also been an early artist to draw fire from the PMRC, he has continuously been an outspoken figure on the freedom of speech and anti-censorship issues.
Ice-T initially helped expose the realities of urban street life not only with his music but also through his film appearances, which have paved the way for other rapper/actors such as Tupac Shakur and Ice Cube. It's no surprise, then, that Ice-T has been exploring the Internet as an innovative method for challenging the monolithic music industry.
Born in New Jersey, he was raised in South Central Los Angeles after both of his parents died and started rapping in his late teens. His first break came when he was asked to appear in the movie, Breakin', which also led to the release of his debut album, Rhyme Pays in 1987. After five gold albums, he elected to be released from his contract with Time-Warner Records when stock shareholders and police groups convinced them to drop a song off of the Body Count album and rejected the artwork for his upcoming solo project. Warner's rare decision to let go of such a popular, lucrative artist was a telling symbol in those days of the intense corporate fear of rap music. He went on to release successful albums that chronicled his gritty, street-wise lifestyle and social commentaries.
This fall, he begins his first season as a regular cast member of the television show Law and Order, and he is coming out with his own video game, and will be working on another album with Body Count.
Ice-T's dedication to give back and break new ground has made him, in the words of Public Enemy, a rebel without a pause. "It's a great opportunity for people to come out and learn," says Justin Core. "A lot of people don't know much about Ice-T, but they respect what he's done. In the early '90s, he crossed some bridges that had never been crossed before; he blazed a trail for others to follow."
& & & lt;i & Ice-T presents the lecture, "The Future of Music," at SFCC's Music Auditorium on Friday, Oct. 6 at 7 pm. Tickets: $15, general; $10, students. Call: 533-4197. & lt;/i & & lt;/center &