The acclaimed rapper talked to us about his upcoming televised biography.
As the globe celebrates the 44th anniversary of hip-hop, we can't help but realize how apropos it is to chat with Ice-T. The rapper turned actor, who was one of the first lyricists portrayed on film in Breakin', paved the way for a culture that's saved as many lives as it's given good music.
At 59 Ice-T, born Tracy Lauren Marrow, is now in a place where he can happily look back and reflect on the long journey to get where he is today. Raised by his aunt in South Central L.A. after both of his parents died, Ice-T turned to rapping and acting as a way to avoid trouble.
"I was trapped," he told ESSENCE. "I taught myself how to rap. It was a way out to get out of that bullsh-t. I knew my days were numbered in low digits if I kept doing what I was doing. When someone offered me a chance to act I'm like, 'Hell, yeah. I'll try. I'm not trained, but I'll try.'"
To say the Grammy award-winner has lived would be an understatement. Before even picking up a mic as a gangster rap artist he had served in the army, sold drugs, pimped, robbed and fought his way to the stage. This is where TV One's Unsung comes in.
While the series is associated with acts that didn't get their full shine time, Ice-T believes it serves as a different platform for him as a working actor.
"It's a history lesson," he said. "It's a show where you get to see somebody's life. I've been around so long, a lot of stuff I've done, people aren't familiar with it. Just so much. They came at me and I don't have a problem with the title. If anything, I want people to say, 'He ain't Unsung.' I've seen the show and I think they did an excellent job."
The takeaway from the episode will be that if given a chance, Ice-T will take it —and run with it for as long as possible.
"That's really been my work ethic," he admitted. "If you give me a chance, I'll try. I'll see how good I am. I won't say I can't do it. I'll just try —whether it's for film or television. My first television role was playing on New York Undercover where I came on. Dick Wolf just liked me. Here I am now about to start the nineteenth season of Law & Order."
Ice-T's TV One Unsung airs Sunday, August 13 at 10 p.m. ET