Case 76: Lyrics Not So Cool
Is Ice T’s Cop Killer Legal?
Background on the furore resulting from the release of the song by rapper Ice-T, culminating in the artist’s decision to withdraw it from the album.
Ice-T Pulls ‘Cop Killer’ Off the Market
Citing the need to protect Time Warner’s employees, Ice-T asks the record company to re-issue the album with the offensive track removed.
Daryl Gates Downfall
The rise and legacy of Daryl Gates, the L.A/ Police Chief who in the eyes of musical critics like Ice-T represented oppressive and racist policing.
The L.A. Riots
A Time magazine retrospective on the rioting that engulfed Los Angeles after the police beating of Rodney King.
Ice-T, From ‘Cop Killer’ To ‘Law & Order’
A profile of the man born as Tracy Marrow, including discussion of his experiences of racism as a child and how these events have influenced his music (audio).
Police Set Sights on Song
Groups calling for Time Warner to nix Ice-T’s feisty song included the Fraternal Order of Police, whose president suggested that the lyrics were a call for police executions.
Off-Duty Officers Wear Badges of Protest for Ice-T Concert
Chicago police officers gathered at an Ice-T concert to register their opposition to the message in his songs.
Quayle Raps Rapper’s ‘Cop Killer, Calls Ice T’s Recording ‘Outrageous’
The U.S. vice-president at the time, Dan Quayle, added his voice to calls for Time Warner to axe the controversial record.
Charlton Heston vs. Ice-T’s Cop Killer and Time Warner
Heston explains how he took his opposition to Ice-T’s music to a Time Warner shareholders meeting and publicly read selected lyrics to the squirming audience.
How Hip-Hop Holds Blacks Back
The author argues that by veering from its fun, party origins in songs like “Rapper’s Delight” to a violent and vulgar soundtrack, the genre ends us perpetuating negative black stereotypes.
The Rolling Stone Interview: Ice-T
The musician argues that ‘Cop Killer’ presents a progressive message of anger against police brutality and reveals the urgings of a psychopath, not a call to murder.
The Disappearance of Ice-T’s ‘Cop Killer’
A New York Times writer argues that the pressure imposed on the musician to self-censor his controversial song sets a dangerous precedent for free artistic expression.
The Cop Killer Controversy
Ice-T, who ironically went on to play a cop on the TV show Law and Order, reflects on the ‘Cop Killer’ controversy and insists that his lyrics were misunderstood.
Ice-T Talks ‘Law & Order’ and Body Count
The gangsta rap pioneer compares the musical style of “Cop Killer” to fictional role-playing by recording artists and filmmakers who use their craft to portray a particular culture or lifestyle.
If Ice-T Sang Folk Instead of Rap, Might He Take Less Heat?
In the opinion of this writer, opposition to “Cop Killer” was driven more by the color of Ice-T’s music than its lyrics.
Protest Songs about Police Injustice
This site includes Ice-T’s “Cop Killer” among several other rap songs that have protested perceived police brutality.
A History of Police Boycotting Musicians in America
Many famous musicians who have earned the ire of the police as shown in this article, ranging from Beyoncé to Bruce Springsteen.
The Songs they tried to Ban
A listing and background information on songs that came under fire for offensive lyrics, including Ice-T’s “Cop Killer.”
Eminem: On the Road Back From Hell
This Rolling Stone article profiles another controversial rapper whose music has been the object of both praise and loathing.
Call for End to Racist Rap Lyrics
A prominent rap music recording executive urges the industry and radio stations to renounce three offensive words.
Body Count: Manslaughter
A review of a recent album by the group led by Ice T, featuring some of the hard-hitting themes that have made the rocker-rapper famous.
Origins of Hip Hop: Ice-T and “Cop Killer”
A look at the rapper’s background and his influence on the hip hop genre, through sons like ‘Cop Killer.”
Gangsta Rap Overview
The birth and growth of a genre that graphically chronicles inner city African American life and struggles.
This writer wonders if opponents are applying racist double standards in their condemnation of rap lyrics.
Cop Out? The Media, “Cop Killer,” and the Deracialization of Black Rage
A scholarly article that views the Ice-T song as an important effort to educate suburban white teens about police racism and deficits in social justice.