Tracy Marrow, better known as Ice T is mostly celebrated for his rap songs concerning street life & violence. He has been an influential figure for the gangster rap genre. Highly controversial songs such as Cop Killer brought much fame to Ice T. He also pursued a career in acting, his most noteworthy character being that of a police officer on the show, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
Tracy Marrow was born on February 16, 1958 in Newark, New Jersey. He spent his early years in Summit, New Jersey living with his parents. His father was a quiet blue collar working man. Although Ice remembers his mother to be a strong & supportive woman in his autobiography, he does not have many memories of her because she passed away following a heart attack when Ice was in third grade. Four years later his father too died of a heart attack leaving Ice alone. He was an only child who lost both his parents very early on in life. Following the death of his father, Ice had to move in with his aunt in South Central Los Angeles. By this time, he was in sixth grade. It was in LA that Ice got his first taste of inner city life. These everyday experiences would later lead to his career as a rapper and give him the integrity and authority to speak up against gang violence. None of his friends took interest in studies, but Ice was different, he secretly ditched his friends to attend school and graduated from high school with good grades.
Before becoming a rapping icon, Ice T was enrolled in the United States Army for four years. However, he later returned to Los Angeles where he lived as a self styled hustler. Crime kept his pockets warm for a while but then he got fed up and when a friend suggested he give rap a chance, Ice abandoned hustling completely. Tracy Marrow became Ice T with the help of Robert Maupin Beck III. Robert’s pen name Iceberg Slim became the inspiration for Marrow’s own name. In 1987, Ice signed with Sire Records and released his debut album, Rhyme Pays a year later. The album went gold. Ice gained more popularity when his theme song featured in the movie Colors. He released two more albums in the 80s becoming the most promising star of the West Coast rap. His 1991 album O.G. Original Gangster played a key role in developing the gangster rap genre. In 1992, Ice released Cop Killer which became the most controversial and talked about song of his career. Ice received plenty of criticism due the provocative lyrics towards police officers. During the course of the next several years, Ice produced a number of groundbreaking Billboard hits.
Side by side to his rapping career, Ice was also proving his acting skills on screen. He acted in several films including Trespass, New Jack City, Ricochet and Johnny Mnemonic. Parallel to Hollywood, Ice T also made guest appearances on television and even had his very own reality show on VH1 called Ice T’s Rap School. However, his most memorable performance was that of playing Detective Odafin Tutuola in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.