The Iceberg/Freedom of Speech… Just Watch What You Say …

The Iceberg/Freedom of Speech… Just Watch What You Say! is the third studio album by American rapper Ice-T. The album was released on October 10, 1989, by Sire Records and Warner Bros. Records. The album has an uncharacteristically gritty sound, featuring some of the darkest musical tracks that Ice-T ever released.

The album was released after Ice-T was encountering censorship problems on tour. In The Ice Opinion: Who Gives a Fuck? the rapper states that “People had already told me what I could not say onstage in Columbus, Georgia. You couldn’t say anything they called a ‘swear’ word. You couldn’t touch yourself. They were using the same tactics they used on everyone from Elvis and Jim Morrison to 2 Live Crew”.[5]

The album’s cover, featuring a B-boy with a shotgun shoved in his mouth, and two pistols pressed against each side of his head, reflected Ice-T’s experiences with the concept of freedom of speech. “The concept of that picture is, ‘Go ahead and say what you want. But here comes the government and here come the parents, and they are ready to destroy you when you open your mouth'”.[5]

“The Iceberg” alternates between typical violent metaphor, outlandish boasts, and comical sexual situations involving other members of Ice’s Rhyme Syndicate. “Lethal Weapon” tells listeners that the mind is the most powerful weapon:

“You Played Yourself” advises listeners to be smart and not let themselves “be played”. “Peel Their Caps Back” is about committing a drive-by to avenge a slain friend. Unlike other songs where violence is a metaphor for the rapper’s ability to defeat other rappers lyrically, this song is a stark depiction of what could lead to such an event. However, it contains two surprising elements: in the end, the main character is killed, and the whole event is written off by the media as just another gang killing.

In “The Girl Tried to Kill Me”, Ice-T raps about an encounter with a dominatrix:

“Black and Decker” starts off with Rhyme Syndicate members complaining about the media’s portrayal of their work as meaningless violence. Ice wonders aloud what it would sound like if you drilled into someone’s head with a powerdrill. After some gory sound effects, Ice says “Probably sound like that.” “Hit the Deck” offers sincere advice to wannabe-MCs:

“This One’s for Me” offers Ice’s take on the rap scene and music industry. “The Hunted Child” is a first-person account of a scared young gang-banger on the run. The busy, multi-layered composition, with its scratched sirens and staccato drums, samples Public Enemy’s “Bring the Noise”.[6]

“What Ya Wanna Do” is a 9-minute party song featuring several members of the Syndicate, including a young Everlast, who became famous as a member of House of Pain. “Freedom of Speech” was one of the first raps to focus on the First Amendment and in particular attacked Tipper Gore’s PMRC with unmistakable venom:

The album ends with in “My Word Is Bond”, featuring Syndicate members telling one exaggerated story after another against a looped sample of Slick Rick saying “Stop lying” from his song “La Di Da Di”.[7]

Sample credits

The rest is here:

The Iceberg/Freedom of Speech… Just Watch What You Say …

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