BODY COUNT — Body Count (review)

BODY COUNT — Body Count album cover Album · 1992 · Crossover Thrash Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
siLLy puPPy
Ice-T had already shown his appreciation for metal and punk on his hip hop classic “The Iceberg / Freedom Of Speech… Just Watch What You Say” with the music of Black Sabbath introducing the album alongside Jello Biafra giving a speech about the impending police state. On his followup “O.G. Original Gangster” he cleverly advertised a new track called “BODY COUNT” which introduced the band of the same name where along with Ernie C (lead guitar, acoustic guitar), D-Rock the Executioner (rhythm guitar), Beatmaster V (drums), Mooseman (bass) and the two Seans: E Sean (sampler, backing vocals) and E. Mac (hype man, backing vocals), he and his posse were determined to jump back into the rock universe that most black musicians had abandoned for the safer ground of soul, funk and hip hop.

On the debut album BODY COUNT, Ice-T and gang followed in the footsteps of T’s solo album’s stylistically and lyrically only they left behind the funky beats and rapped lyrics (mostly) and traded them in for a metal and punk infused musical outburst that took elements of thrash, punk and trad metal and incorporated the hard hitting hip hop subject matter of inner city life. BODY COUNT took everyone by surprise. It shocked the hip hop community which mostly eschewed the world of rock music and strived to separate itself (despite Run-DMC bringing hip hop to the masses with tasty guitar riffing tunes). Of course accusations of selling out plagued Ice-T at this time but he politely reminded his fans that rock WAS black music with its origins stemming from Chuck Berry, Little Richard and of course the great Jimi Hendrix.

With a brash bravado ever present on all his albums, BODY COUNT unapologetically tapped into the world of heavy metal where the band was also condemned for trampling on sacred cows. Metal purists hated this album and when the band played an impromptu appearance opening for Metallica and Guns N Roses in 1993, the band was plodded with dirt clods. Hard to believe but in a genre that is all about shock and awe, many were not open minded enough to allow an all black band to express themselves in the context of heavy distorted guitar oriented music that whites had come to dominate throughout the 80s. Despite the haters, the album still generated a lot of interest following in the footsteps of another black band, Living Colour who had put African-American oriented heavy rock back on the map with their phenomenal debut “Vivid.”

Ice-T generated controversy wherever he went and flipped the middle finger with glee and on BODY COUNT he only continued his “fuck the world” stance and in the process created one of the ugliest albums of his career in a good way of course. The album is bookended by two slams of cops. The introductory skit of “Smoked Pork” finds a cop unwilling to help a downtrodden black man and ends up dead whereas the original version ended with the anthemic “Cop Killer” that triggered the wrath of the entire American police force. All the controversy generated enough pressure for the band to remove the song off future releases that was subsequently replaced by “Freedom Of Speech” which sampled a Jimi Hendrix groove and once again featured Jello Biafra along with Ice-T delivering biting criticism over the state of true freedoms in a country that claims to protect them.

This album is really awesome! Despite the lack of technical musicianship or extraordinary metal talent, this is a lot of fun and displays a lost spirit of music delivering a message. The album is divided up amongst extremely serious topics such as the saddening plight of the African-American communities being left to rot in ghettos, left to battle each other to the death with gang shootings and drug escapism running rampant. This theme is most evident on the title track, “Bowels Of The Devil” and “There Goes The Neighborhood,” but Ice-T has no problem injected a lot of humor into an otherwise bleak outlook on the American culture. “KKK Bitch” is a hilarious sequel to Ice-T’s “The Girl Tried To Kill Me” which narrated an unbelievable tale of a near fatal experience with a dominatrix, however in this case it’s about having nasty sexual relations with the daughter of the KKK! Likewise, one fo the funniest tracks in music history, “Evil Dick” demonstrates how men in general are mere slaves to their master slaves, their saluting members of the priapic libido army.

Ice-T originally rejected the idea of joining his friends’ metal band because his singing voice isn’t exactly the best and that perhaps is the weakest aspect of the album but i couldn’t think of a better rapper to have been involved in this project than Ice-T. His lyrical biting critiques and adept play on words adds a whole other dimension to this music that is missing from most metal bands which more than makes up for the lack of technical prowess. Despite not being the best singer, Ice-T does the job with an interesting mix of singing, semi-rapping and spoken narrations. The rest of the band ain’t bad either. The music mixes thrash metal, punk rock and more classic 80s metal. Ice-T spends the majority of the album critiquing the fucked up American scene but also pontificates against drug use on the melodic well-sung “The Winner Loses” and preaches against racism against whites on “Momma’s Gotta Die Tonight.”

While the controversy behind the track “Cop Killer” may have gotten this album more attention than it would’ve otherwise, the fact is that BODY COUNT is an infectiously well executed album that delivers hard hammering thrash riffs, epic trad metal melodies and brilliantly composed lyrical content. Subjects like voodoo, black ghetto life and African-American subject matter that are completely absent in most metal albums of the era are strewn all about BODY COUNT and make this a fascinating listening experience without sacrificing the true authentic metal experience. Metal purists who don’t like this can go fuck themselves. This album is brilliant on many levels. While the band would continue on and release not so brilliant albums, on this one they shine like no others of the other. A true alternative metal experience that doesn’t get enough love.
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