Tracy Marrow (born February 16, 1958), better known by his stage name Ice-T, is an American musician and actor.
He was born in Newark, New Jersey and moved to district Crenshaw, Los Angeles, California when he was in the 7th grade. After graduating from high school he served in the United States Army for four years. He began his career as a rapper in the 1980s and was signed to Sire Records in 1987, when he released his debut album Rhyme Pays. The next year, he founded the record label Rhyme Syndicate Records (named after his collective of fellow Hip-Hop artists called the Rhyme Syndicate) and released another album, Power.
He became the lead vocalist in heavy metal band Body Count, which he introduced in his 1991 album O.G.: Original Gangster. Body Count released its self-titled debut album in 1992. Ice-T encountered controversy over his track "Cop Killer", which was perceived to glamorize killing police officers. In the following year, pressure upon Time Warner, the parent company of Warner Bros. Records, to censor or hold back any music or form of content that was deemed too dangerous for public consumption including Ice-T's next Hip-Hop album, Home Invasion which was supposed to be released early in 1993 and was under scrutiny for its album cover artwork ultimately prompted a severance of the relationship between them and Ice-T. Home Invasion was released later in the Fall of 1993 directly on his Rhyme Syndicate label through a new distribution deal with Priority Records instead. Body Count's next album was released in 1994, and Ice-T released two more albums in the late 1990s.
As an actor, he is best known for his portrayal of NYPD Detective Odafin "Fin" Tutuola on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, the NBC police drama in which he has appeared since 2000.
After leaving the Army, Ice-T began his long career of recording raps for various studios on 12-inch singles. In 1984, he wrote the raps for Mr. T's motivational video called Be Somebody... or Be Somebody's Fool! as well as providing Adrock of the Beastie Boys with his first SP-1200 sampler in 1985.
He can be seen in Joeski Love's 1985 video of [Pee Wee's Dance] In 1987 he recorded "Justiceville", written by Tom "Beefbone" Bolema for a documentary by the same name, and later released on a Notown Records compilation.
Ice-T finally landed a deal with a major label Sire Records. When label founder and president Seymour Stein heard his demo, he said, “He sounds like Bob Dylan.” Shortly after, he released his debut album Rhyme Pays in 1987 supported by DJ Evil E, DJ Aladdin and producer Afrika Islam, who helped create the mainly party-oriented sound. The record wound up being certified gold by the RIAA. That same year, he recorded the title theme song for Dennis Hopper's Colors, a film about inner-city life in Los Angeles. His next album Power was released in 1988, under his own label Rhyme Syndicate, and it was a more assured and impressive record, earning him strong reviews and his second gold record. Released in 1989, The Iceberg/Freedom of Speech... established his popularity by matching excellent abrasive music with narrative and commentative lyrics.
Records after a dispute over the artwork of the album Home Invasion, he reactivated Rhyme Syndicate and formed a deal with Priority Records for distribution. Priority released Home Invasion in the spring of 1993. The album peaked at #9 on Billboard magazine's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and at #14 on the Billboard 200, spawning several singles including "Gotta Lotta Love", "I Ain't New To This" and "99 Problems" - which would later inspire Jay Z to record a version with new lyrics in 2003. Ice-T had also collaborated with certain other heavy metal bands during this time period. For the film Judgment Night, he did a duet with Slayer on the track "Disorder". In 1995, Ice-T made a guest performance on Forbidden by Black Sabbath. Another album of his, VI - Return of the Real came out in 1996, followed by The Seventh Deadly Sin in 1999.
His first rap album since 1999, Gangsta Rap, was released on October 31, 2006. The album's cover, which "shows [Ice-T] lying on his back in bed with his ravishing wife's ample posterior in full view and one of her legs coyly draped over his private parts," was considered to be too suggestive for most retailers, many of which were reluctant to stock the album. Some reviews of the album were unenthusiastic, as many had hoped for a return to the political raps of Ice-T's most successful albums.
In 1991, he released his album O.G. Original Gangster, which is regarded as one of the albums that defined gangsta rap. On OG, he introduced his heavy metal band Body Count in a track of the same name. Ice-T toured with Body Count on the first annual Lollapalooza concert tour in 1991, gaining him appeal among middle-class teenagers and fans of alternative music genres. The self-titled debut album by Body Count followed. For his appearance on the heavily collaborative track "Back on the Block", a composition by jazz musician Quincy Jones that "attempt[ed] to bring together black musical styles from jazz to soul to funk to rap", Ice-T won a Grammy Award for the Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group, an award shared by others who worked on the track including Jones and fellow jazz musician Ray Charles.
Controversy later surrounded Body Count over its song "Cop Killer", a song intended as a narrative from the view of a criminal getting revenge on racist police officers guilty of brutality, from the National Rifle Association and various police advocacy groups. Consequently, Time Warner Music refused to release Ice-T's upcoming album Home Invasion because of the controversy surrounding "Cop Killer". When Ice split amicably with Sire/Warner Bros.
Ice-T appears in the film Gift. One of the last scenes includes Ice-T and Body Count playing with Jane's Addiction in a version of the Sly and the Family Stone song "Don't Call Me Nigger, Whitey."
Besides fronting his own band and rap projects, Ice-T has also collaborated with other hard rock and metal bands, such as Icepick, Motorhead, Pro-Pain, and Six Feet Under. He has also covered songs by hardcore punk bands such as The Exploited, Jello Biafra, and Black Flag. Ice-T made an appearance at Insane Clown Posse's Gathering Of The Juggalos (2008 edition). Ice-T was also a judge for the 7th annual Independent Music Awards to support independent artists. His new BBC-funded movie 'Art Of Rap' features a who's who of underground and mainstream rappers.
Ice-T's first film appearances were in the motion pictures Breakin' (1984) and its sequel Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo (1985). These films were released before Ice-T released his first LP, although he has since stated that he considers the films and his own performance in them to be "whack".
In 1991, he embarked on a serious acting career, portraying police detective Scotty Appleton in Mario Van Peebles' feature film New Jack City, gang leader Odessa alongside Denzel Washington and John Lithgow in Ricochet (1991), gang leader King James in Trespass (1992), followed by a notable lead role performance in Surviving the Game (1994) in addition to his many supporting roles, such as J-Bone in Johnny Mnemonic (1995), and the marsupial mutant T-Saint in Tank Girl (1995). Marrow was also interviewed in the Brent Owens documentary Pimps Up, Ho's Down, in which he claims to have had an extensive pimping background before getting into rap. He is quoted as saying "once you max something out, it ain't no fun no more. I couldn't really get no farther." He goes on to explain that his pimping experience gave him the ability to get into new businesses. "I can't act, I really can't act, I ain't no rapper, it's all game. I'm just working these niggas." Later he raps at the Players Ball.
In 1993, Marrow along with other rappers and the three Yo! MTV Raps hosts Ed Lover, Doctor Dre and Fab 5 Freddy starred in the comedy Who's the Man? directed by Ted Demme. In this movie Ice is a drug dealer who gets really frustrated when someone calls him by his real name "Chauncey" rather than his street name "Nighttrain".
In 1995, he had a recurring role as vengeful drug dealer Danny Cort on the television series New York Undercover, which was co-created by Dick Wolf. His work on the series earned him the 1996 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series. In 1997, Marrow co-created the short-lived series Players, which was produced by Wolf. This was followed by a role as pimp Seymour "Kingston" Stockton in Exiled: A Law & Order Movie (1998). These collaborations led Wolf to add Marrow to the cast of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Since 2000 he has portrayed Odafin "Fin" Tutuola, a former undercover narcotic officer transferred to the Special Victims Unit. In 2002, the NAACP awarded Marrow with a second Image Award, again for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, for his work on Law & Order: SVU. His participation in this series is somewhat ironic, given the early controversy surrounding his group Body Count with their song "Cop Killer". Marrow also appears in the movie Leprechaun: In the Hood.
In 1997, he had a pay-per-view special entitled Ice T's Extreme Babes which appeared on Action PPV, formerly owned by BET networks.
In 1999, Marrow starred in the HBO movie Stealth Fighter as a United States Naval Aviator who fakes his own death, steals a F-117 stealth fighter and threatens to destroy United States military bases. This movie is often criticized for its poor script, military inaccuracies, and significant use of footage from other movies. He also acted in the movie Sonic Impact, released the same year.
Ice-T voiced Madd Dogg in the video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas as well as Agent Cain in Sanity: Aiken's Artifact. He also appears as himself in Def Jam: Fight for NY and UFC: Tapout fighting video games.
Ice-T made an appearance on the comedy television series Chappelle's Show as himself presenting the award for "Player Hater of the Year" at the "Player-Haters Ball", a parody of his own appearance at the Players Ball. He was dubbed the "Original Player Hater."
At WrestleMania 2000, Marrow performed his song "Pimpin Ain't Easy" during The Godfather and D'Lo Brown's entrance.
He also played as Hamilton in a 2001 thriller film named 3000 Miles to Graceland.
Beyond Tough, a 2002 documentary series aired on Discovery Channel about the world's most dangerous and intense professions, such as alligator wrestlers and Indy 500 pit crews, was hosted by Marrow.
In 2007, he appeared as a celebrity guest star on the MTV sketch comedy show Short Circuitz. Also in late 2007, Marrow appeared in the short-music film Hands of Hatred which can be found online.
Ice-T was interviewed for the Cannibal Corpse retrospective documentary Centuries of Torment, as well as appearing in Chris Rock's 2009 documentary Good Hair, in which he reminisced about going to school in hair curlers.
Ice-T is now involved with the game Gears of War 3