June 10, 2018

Ice-T "Cop Killer" Controversy (Spin Magazine, 1992)

"Die, Pig, Die," go the lyrics in "Cop Killer," the song that enraged police officers across America last summer. Ice-T said Body Count's song "Cop Killer" does not tell people to go out and shoot cops, but his original intent -- to portray a demented soul seeking revenge on a murderous group -- got lost in the din. Law enforcement groups jumped all over Time Warner, whose subsidiary Sire Records released "Cop Killer," and within weeks they had enlisted the support of 60 members of Congress, Oliver North, Dan Quayle, and President Bush. Alabama Governor Guy Hunt sent out an urgent Father's Day message to the nation's governors, asking them to join in a campaign against the Body Count album. By August, over 1,400 record stores nationwide had dropped the album. Very few Americans actually heard the song, but most had something to say about it. Sixty-six percent of nonblack Americans tended to support the protestors who urged that the song be pulled from public circulation... Only 37 percent of blacks did. A half-dozen cops can get blasted in an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie without music fanfare, but a different standard is applied to rap or speed-metal bands such as Ice-T's Body Count. "There's an assumption that inner-city blacks are more likely to be influenced than the rest of us," ... "There's an assumption of black inferiority in all of this." In September, Quayle blamed a rap album from Tupac Shakur for the shooting death of a state trooper in Texas. And Cummings says it's no coincidence that the controversy over "Cop Killer" erupted a couple of months after the L.A. riots. Time Warner execs backed Ice-T during the two months of controversy... but Ice-T finally decided to pull the song, ostensibly to protect Time Warner from the heat. Lesser-known rappers are worried about the fallout. Warner Bros. is said to be discouraging songs about alleged police brutality: A Warner Bros. spokesman said Juvenile Committee was asked to tone down "Justice in the Hood," and Boston crew Almighty RSO says it was dropped by Tommy Boy Records because its rap antagonized police groups. "Ice-T should have stuck to his guns," says Almighty RSO member Jeffrey "Def Jeff" Neal. "If they got him to back down, they're going to wipe out the little guy." - Spin Magazine (December, 1992). Ice-T appeared on the Arsenio Hall Show to discuss the "Cop Killer" controversy in greater detail. Full article is below. The dope illustration up above is by Warren Drummond in The Source Magazine (No. 40, January 1993).