More Law and order: SVU Fans know that the series star Ice-T started out as a rapper before becoming an actor, but many might not know that he also fronts a Grammy-winning metal band. For more than three decades, Ice T was the lead singer of Body Count, a hardcore metal band from Los Angeles. In 2021, Body Count won Best Metal Performance at the Grammys, for the song “Bum-Rush”, which was the second single from their latest album, 2020. Carnivorous.
In a post-win tweet, Ice-T gave “a very special cry to all BC fans around the world. For more than 30 years, you have remained faithful. Celebrate with us tonight! Thank you for the love and continued support. ‘Keep It Hardcore’ 4Life.” Most rapper and actor fans might not even realize that Body Count has been around for 30 years, but they have a massive catalog of brutal hardcore-influenced metal songs to prove their legacy. Scroll down to read more about this band and check out some of their songs over the years.
Body Count was born in the early 90s, with him and fellow Crenshaw High School Ernie C (lead guitar), Mooseman (bass), Beatmaster V (drums) and D-Roc (rhythm guitar) teaming up around their love of heavy metal and hard rock music. Ice-T became the vocalist, although he didn’t feel like he had the right voice for metal at the time, as he already had an established career as a rapper.
The group debuted in Lollapalooza in 1991, with part of Ice’s set being their solo hip-hop songs and the other half being Body Count. The set was a huge success and in 1992 the band released their self-titled debut album.
Ice-T has said in the past that Body Count’s two biggest influences were Black Sabbath and Slayer, with hardcore punk and crossover thrash music – like Suicidal Tendencies – also playing a big role. In a previous interview, Ernie C explained: “We wanted to be a big punk band […] Our first record is almost a punk record.”
The band paid homage to their influences on several occasions, recording their own version of Suicidal Tendencies’ hit “Institutionalized” and doing a double cover of Slayer’s tracks, “Raining Blood” and “Postmortem”, from the Slayer classic Reign in Blood. album. Body Count also covered Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades” and “Hey Joe”, written by Billy Moses and made famous by Jimi Hendrix. They also wrote their own version of Jay-Z’s “99 Problems”.
Style and sound
Body Count has often been credited with giving rise to the rise of rap-metal – in some cases nu-metal in general – for its use of hip-hop-style vocals over heavy, thrash music. Arguably, Ice-T doesn’t necessarily rap in the majority of Body Count’s songs, but his bold, aggressive delivery has a cadence reminiscent of rapping, earning the band the rap-metal label.
Although they’ve been placed in many genres over the years, the most apt description of Body Count’s sound would be crossover thrash, which is basically a mix of metal, hardcore, and thrash.
“Cop Killer” Controversy
Just as the group was beginning to ride high on their budding success and popularity, a major controversy crumbled over their heads. One of the songs on their debut album was titled “Cop Killer” and was meant to criticize corrupt police officers. However, many police organizations across the country were offended by the songs.
Notably, George HW Bush, who was President of the United States at the time, criticized Warner Bros. Records for even considering allowing the song to be released. Ice-T ultimately chose to remove the song from the album because he “didn’t want my band to be typecast”.
Death of Beatmaster V, Mooseman and D-Roc the Executioner
Unfortunately, during Body Count’s tenure as a powerful metal band, three of the original members passed away. In 1996, Beatmaster V died of leukemia shortly after the band finished recording their third album, Violent Death: The Last Days.
Mooseman, who left the band in 2004, died in 2001 after being shot in a drive-by shooting. At the time of his death, Mooseman was a member of Iggy Pop’s band The Trolls.
Finally, D-Roc the Executioner died in 2004, his cause of death being attributed to complications from lymphoma. Ice-T and Ernie C are the only remaining original members of the group.
After D-Roc’s death, Body Count released their fourth album, Murder 4 Rental, which dropped in 2006. The band then chose to keep a low profile for a while, with Ernie C releasing a statement about his tentative plans. “We will continue the band,” he said. “I don’t know if it will be Body Count, but in some form Ice and I will always play together.”
In subsequent years, the group’s activity was sporadic. In 2009 they played a set for the 15th anniversary of the Vans Warped Tour. They also wrote an exclusive song for the Gears of War 3 video game, titled “The Gears of War”, in 2011.
Back on stage
In 2012, six years after their last album, Ice-T announced that Body Count would be releasing a brand new album, Manslaughterwhich was released in January 2013. The album was the band’s first and only recording with Summerian Records and featured guest vocals from Hatebreed frontman Jamey Jasta on one track.
A few years later, Body Count signed to Century Media Records and released Bloodlust (2017). This album featured guests like Dave Mustaine from Megadeth, Randy Blythe from Lamb of God and former Sepulture frontman Max Cavalera. It also earned the band their first Grammy nomination for Best Metal Performance, for the song “Black Hoodie”.
Last year, Body Count published Carnivorous, which led to their victory at the Grammy Awards this year. The album was critically acclaimed and featured a new track with Jasta, as well as tracks with Evanescence vocalist Amy Lee and former Slayer drummer Dave Lombardo.
Particularly, Carnivorous also featured a song with the late Power Trip frontman Riley Gale, who died in 2020, and was also nominated with his band for Best Metal Performance of 2021.