O.G. Original Gangster


Warner Brothers Records, 1991


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


It's kind of hard to believe, but we're coming up on ten years since rapper Ice-T unleashed O.G. Original Gangster on the public. The album that helped to introduce Ice-T's rap-metal band Body Count, it also solidified his reputation as one of the godfathers of gangsta rap.

Yet nowadays, O.G. Original Gangster sounds a little disjointed at times, possibly because the rapper jumps from idea to idea as if he's playing a musical game of hopscotch. In the end, everything comes together, but it is a bumpy ride at the start.

The opening to the album, "Home Of The Bodybag," is reminiscent of the way Public Enemy opened Apocalypse '91: The Enemy Strikes Blackmy_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 . (Not surprisingly, both albums came out the same time... though I seem to recall Ice-T's was out first.) Unfortunately for Ice-T, things really don't get going until well into the first half of the album; tracks like "Ziplock," "Mind Over Matter" and the segue track "First Impression" - well, let's say the first impression of O.G. Original Gangster is not the greatest.

Of course, anyone who has followed Ice-T's career knows that he eventually snaps back into a solid groove with powerful rhymes, and "New Jack Hustler" marks that switch on this album. From then on, Ice-T does almost no wrong.

From the pimp-slam of "Bitches 2" (relax, it's really not what the paranoid right-wing may think it's about) to the powerfully illustrated tales on "The House" and "Midnight", even to reaching out to fellow artists on the spoken-word track "M.V.P.," Ice-T hits a creative stride that doesn't let go. Most interesting to me was "Lifestyles Of The Rich And Infamous," a tale of just how glamorous fame can be. Even though I've had the privilege of being side-by-side to many musical stars for various purposes, even I was wondering just how much of a pain it can be for someone to do just one more interview with someone like me. (No apologies from Ice-T, though, as he admits this is the path he chose in life, and he's living out his dream.)

If O.G. Original Gangster was a wake-up call to blacks and whites alike, "Body Count" was the snooze alarm at full volume and stuck in the "on" position. The birth cry of the band which would cause controversy by the boatload with "Cop Killer," this track features a band still in its growing pains, but gaining in confidence. (This track would be included on Body Count's self-titled debut as well.)

Admittedly, rap can be somewhat of an acquired taste for some people, and O.G. Original Gangster isn't the easiest album to get through at times. But Ice-T makes sure to build the power up as the album continues - in the end, turning out to be quite a wise move, despite the rocky start. This album may be closing in on its tenth birthday, but O.G. Original Gangster is still very much worth your time to check out.

Rating: B-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2000 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Warner Brothers Records, and is used for informational purposes only.