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Ice: A Memoir of Gangster Life and Redemption-from South Central to Hollywood (Anglais) Broché – 24 janvier 2012

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part one

Cold as Ice

“It’s hell to be an orphan at an early age This impressionable stage No love breeds rage.”

—“I Must Stand”


because I first made my name as a rapper claiming South Central L.A., people often assume I’m strictly a West Coast cat. But my family was actually from back East. I was born in Newark, New Jersey, and grew up in Summit, an upscale town in north Jersey. There was this tiny area of Summit where most of the black families lived. My parents and I lived in a duplex house on Williams Street. And on the street right behind us—backyard to backyard—was my aunt, my father’s sister.

For my first few years, it was just a real middle-American life.

I don’t remember taking any trips or anything exciting. One thing I do remember, when my dad would take me places, he would get White Castle burgers and throw me in the backseat, and he expected me to eat my White Castles and be quiet. My dad and I spent a lot of time together not saying anything. I went to the YMCA, where I learned how to swim and do gymnastics. It was kind of a big deal to have a membership to the Y, because it meant your Pops had money to spend on you. I remember going from Pollywog to Dolphin, then graduating to Shark and Lifesaver, and I’m pretty proud of the fact that I learned to be a good swimmer.

There wasn’t any violence or trauma. It was quiet, simple, and suburban. An almost perfect childhood—except, for me, every couple years, losing a parent . . .

My father’s family came from Virginia and Philadelphia. He wasn’t a brother who talked a lot. He was a workingman, a quiet, blue-collar dude. For years—decades—he worked at the same job. He was a skilled mechanic at the Rapistan Conveyer Company in Mountainside, fixing conveyer belts. Despite the fact that Summit is predominantly white, I can’t say there was overt prejudice in the town, at least not within the adult world as I observed it. All my father’s friends, all the guys he worked with, were white working-class dudes. Lunch-bucket dudes. Black and white, they were all cool with one another.

My father was a dark-skinned brother, but my mother was a very fair-skinned lady. From what I understand she was Creole; we think her people originally came from New Orleans. She looked almost like a white woman, which meant she could pass—as folks used to say back then. Her hair was jet-black. She was slim and very attractive. I recall people telling her she looked like Lena Horne or Dorothy Dandridge.

The fact that my mother could pass intrigued me, even as a little kid. I understood that it was a big fucking deal. In my household, it was often a topic of quiet discussion between my parents. When you can pass, you get to hear the way white people speak freely with one another when black folks aren’t around. You get that kind of undercover look at the way white folks really think. So my mother understood racism intimately, from both sides of the fence, and there was never any tolerance for it in the house.

As hazy as a lot of my childhood is to me, I do have a very clear memory of the day when I first learned I was black. Before that, I guess, I never really knew I was black. Everybody figures out there’s something called “race” at some point in their life, and for me it happened when I was about seven years old.

At the time, I was going to Brayton Elementary School in Summit, and I used to have a white friend named Alex. He was one of my closest friends in school. Alex and me were walking over to his house one day after school and we bumped into this other kid from our class named Kenneth—he was one of the few other black kids who went to Brayton with me. Soon as we ran into Kenneth, Alex told him, “Kenneth, you can’t come over.” Kenneth looked pretty bummed out but he just walked on, head down, kicking the curb the way little kids do. Then we ran into some more kids from our class and Alex had no problem inviting them to his house to play. We walked along the sidewalk in silence and the question just popped into my head.

“I thought you told Kenneth you couldn’t have any more friends over?” I asked.

“Kenneth?” Alex laughed. “Oh, Kenneth—he’s a darkie.”

He said that shit so matter-of-fact. I didn’t understand it. My mind was trippin’ the rest of the afternoon.

Damn, I thought, Alex must think I’m white. I guess I’m passing, too.

Now, I had this other white friend named Mark, and the rules at his place were a little different than at Alex’s. All the kids could come over to Mark’s place to play in the yard, but when it got dark outside, as soon as the twilight made it hard to see, the white kids were allowed to come inside the house and keep playing but the black kids were sent home. Nobody asked any questions. Nobody said shit. It was just accepted as the way things were. And I was still considered “white enough”—or maybe they were just confused about what exactly I was—that I could stay and play with the white kids while the handful of black kids just split.

It was confusing as hell. When I got home, I told my mother about it. She looked at me with this half smile.

“Honey, people are stupid.”

That was her line. It’s one of the things I recall her saying to me a lot. People are stupid. She didn’t break that down for me, but I understood her to mean: You can’t necessarily change the ignorant way people think—but you can damn sure control the way it affects you personally. And then you keep it moving.

I guess my mom was preparing me in her own way, simply by downplaying it, telling me that this was some bullshit—racism—that I was going to be dealing with in some way or another for the rest of my life. Even today, I find myself constantly saying those same words under my breath: Yo, don’t even sweat it. People are stupid.

my mother died of a sudden heart attack when I was in the third grade. I’ve read some craziness online that my parents were killed in a fiery car crash. No, they both died of heart attacks, four years apart. It was me that nearly died in a car wreck, but that was decades later, when I was already hustling out in Cali.

When my mother passed I didn’t cry. To this day, I don’t fully understand why. I didn’t shed any tears. I didn’t go to the funeral, either. I didn’t have much say in the matter. In those days, that’s how grown folks handled kids when someone died. Someone—must have been my father—decided to keep me at the house, away from the church or the funeral home. All the younger kids—me and some cousins on my dad’s side—were upstairs in our house playing the whole day. We were kind of oblivious. We never went downstairs with the mourners. I don’t think it’s quite the same today, but back then there was a conscious effort to shelter kids more. You’d be sent upstairs, you might even be sent away to someone else’s house, during the funeral arrangements.

The first time I ever cried in my life—the first time really letting out tears of grief—was at the funeral of my homey Vic. Victor Wilson—Beatmaster V, the drummer from my band Body Count. And that was in 1996, when I was a grown-ass man, after watching Vic’s body get devastated by leukemia.

Even today, I don’t dig the whole scene of a funeral. Funerals are ugly. I never go to them. I’d much rather remember the person alive. I don’t want to see anybody lying in a box.

My mother didn’t have any family around us. In fact, I never knew anybody from my mother’s side of the family; even today I don’t. My father, though, had two sisters and a lot of cousins. My aunt in the neighborhood had two daughters. There was a lot of family showing up at the house who I’d never seen before my mother’s funeral.

All these folks—distant relations and friends—kept coming by to pay their respects. Also, I later found out: to steal stuff. That’s the one thing I recall vividly after my mother’s funeral. My father was pissed because a bunch of shit was missing from the house after it was all over.

My mother was a very supportive and smart woman, and I know she cared about me, although she wasn’t very affectionate toward me. I only have a few specific memories of her, vague and distant, like some grainy home movie, someplace in the back of my mind. . . .

I’m sitting on the couch watching Batman on TV; she’s calling out, “Tracy!” telling me to come to dinner . . .

I remember her sitting on the sofa a lot, with balls of yarn and knitting needles. That was my mother’s only hobby; she loved to knit and crochet. I’d watch her making these intricate squares and then connecting them together in quilts. We had her quilts, neatly folded, on the beds and sofas in the house.

This may sound strange, but I don’t know that much about my mother’s personal story. I’m not a very backward-looking person. I realize that a lot of people like to dig into their past, research it, log in to genealogical websites to find out about their roots. I have no interest whatsoever in that shit. I’ve never been a guy to spend too long looking in the rearview mirror. To me it’s like John Lennon once said: “I never went to high school reunions. . . . Out of sight, out of mind. . . . I’m only interested in what I am doing now.” That’s my attitude, too.

My father, who was a church-going, nine-to-five guy—did his best to raise me on his own after my mother died. My aunt who lived right b...

Revue de presse

“In his spare, plainspoken autobiography, Ice-T speaks freely and unapologetically. . . . Ice is a good name for this memoir—its writer is a cool cat.”—Los Angeles Times

“Ice-T, in short, is someone hip-hop might have invented if he hadn’t invented himself. . . . Ice showcases an eminently reasonable, positively likeable guy, the gangsta rapper even a parent could love.”—The New York Times Book Review

“A fascinating memoir, the pages of which are jam-packed with tales of a guy who ‘actively did everything I rhymed about.’ ”—Associated Press
“A boldly opinionated, bracingly street-tough memoir.”—Kirkus Reviews
“[An] inspiring story.”—Booklist

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53 internautes sur 55 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
The Original Gangster -- Being Ice Aint Easy ... 7 janvier 2011
Par Steffan Piper - Publié sur
Format: Relié Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit ( De quoi s'agit-il? )
I'm probably one of the few people that have read and reviewed Ice's other book The Ice Opinion as well as this new book, which is equally informing and true as the previous. Being honest, after having read that book a few years back, the thought occurred to me to ask: "what more could this man say that he hasn't already spoke about?" Let me just clear the table and confirm that nothing in these two books is material that's been repeated or regurgitated. Without doubt, this is a solid and eye-opening read.

First, you might not know that Ice was an Army Ranger and an incredibly solid and dedicated soilder while he was doing his time in service. Yes, he did end up having to stand up in front of the C.O., but who hasn't? Legendary Marine, Chesty Puller once said that "the best soliders are often found in the brig." In Ice's case, he wasn't kidding. Ice never got involved in drugs or alcohol and never squealed on anyone either. In historical and mythical terms, he's a pretty honorable character, but the reality that you come away with from reading this book, is that Ice is anything but a character, he's a real person with his survival instincts ratcheted up on high. Ice, born Tracy Marrow, is probably the best example of social darwainism that I've ever heard about. Working your way up from the bottom, parentless, financially 'out', being bussed from one social tier to another for school, trapped in a warring culture on the brink of a social apocalypse -- you name it. "Just hold your ground and be true to yourself." That's his message and he has the life behind him to prove it. Hmm. Who also said that, about 400 years ago? I wonder. "To thine own self ..."

A few days ago, I was at Zales looking at something with my wife. At that time I was about half-way through this book, and while I was standing at the counter, all I could think about was Ice-T and his team of smash-and-grab jewelery thieves doing 'licks' all over Los Angeles and later nationwide. The story he tells isn't about ego, it's not romanticized and he's not telling you to score points with the reader or with the history books in general. This is just how it was. The funny thing is, is that there's probably a lot of us who grew up during this period of time, like myself who can absolutely relate. Even from the criminal tip. He never got caught, never went to jail, never carried a gun in those days and never had to hurt anyone innocent. I can't say the same for a lot of thugs on the street or even the white-collar criminals out there today. Ice talks a lot about his military training, how it made him disciplined and how the military mind in the civilian world is often implemented. You either become an Officer, or you become a criminal. Notice I didn't say Cop.

The amazing thing was that Ice was making a boatload more cash before he got into the rap game and was trying to manage both his criminal career and his ascendency into Rap all at the same time. Being surrounded by both Crips and Bloods on all sides, he emerged as the spokesman for both sets and was like the nuetral Switzerland. He had respect from all the big time guys and worked hard to maintain it. One of the more interesting tidbits is how he ended up over at Warner Brothers and being close with a lot of folks who had much respect for him as a musician, and as a person. Ice also had a lot of respect for the law, even though some, who might remember this, might not think so. He tells it like this:

"There was a line and it was their job to enforce it and it was my job to cross over and back and not get caught."

When his musical career broke, I remember hearing him when I was living all the way up in Alaska and thinking how raw it was. It was incredibly clear to see that everything that came out after Ice, was inspired by Ice, because nobody had rapped about such a hard game before. When Ice Cube hit with his Amerikkkas Most Wanted album and NWA casettes were circulating, people everywhere couldn't get enough. By then though, we all knew where it started and Ice had already moved on to something else - Body Count.

The book is harrowing in places and deeply engrossing. Never for a moment does any of it come across as contrived, unrelatable or 'not real'. Ice's mantra always seems to seep from these pages to "just be you and I'll be me." For that, you know this isn't going to read like a lot of the celebrity biographies, which are just filled with way too much ego that oozes out from every page of the book. Forgive me if I don't care to name names, but too many of them are like that. Ice-T can easily tell you how when he bought a brand new Ferrari and Flava flav smashed into the back of it, you never think for a moment that he's bragging. He tells it like a young man, excited and jazzed about something cool that just landed in his lap -- and that's unflinchingly sincere in all aspects.

This isn't a white-washed version of his life, reading it you can tell. He's not holding anything back here either as he admits to many things that many people in his position just wouldn't.

Regarding Law & Order, I'm one of those people that originally tuned into that show because of Ice-T and I've always felt that I'd always prefer to see more episodes centered around his character. But he has a different position on this. Like he says in the book: "I'm number five on the roster ... and that's a good place to be."

Through the years, I've come to appreciate Ice more and more for a number of reasons. Ice (obviously -- if you're paying attention) is a huge fan of Robert Beck, as am I, and the life that Robert Beck lived and wrote about is the story of a lot of us, myself included. When I read Mama Black Widow, I finally had found someone who was writing about the facets of my own life. Later I read Airtight Willie & Me and quickly read everything else.

This book is going to get some good circulation and he deserves it.


For the record, this review is on the Advance Review version of the book and thus I was sadly without any of the cool pictures that will be in the final print edition or other things that are promised in the details. I'll likely pick this up in it's final version come April.

If you're one of those folks that like to read books like this in one sitting, which is typically fine, I would suggest not doing so with this. I would read this in stages and really spend some time thinking about what's here. I would read this book in 80 page increments so you don't just glass over the details. This is a very good book and deserves consideration.

15 internautes sur 16 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
great look into the life of a rap legend 3 février 2011
Par Ladybug - Publié sur
Format: Relié Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit ( De quoi s'agit-il? )
I'm writing this review as a casual fan of Ice-T. I was 12 years old when O.G. came out, and I had to sneak a copy of a friend's cassette tape home and listen to it when my parents weren't around so they wouldn't take it away. Around the same time, New Jack City came out and, again, I had to sneak into a theater with a friend to watch it. I was enthralled with Ice-T, though I had no real knowledge of him other than this limited exposure. Since that time, Ice-T has become a widely recognizable media figure and, in many ways, a father figure to a lot of contemporary rap.

What I truly enjoy about Ice-T now, though, is his personality. No doubt in part due to his rap career, he has a very clever yet direct way of putting things, whether he's talking about women's hair (see Good Hair) or lamenting the state of the music industry (see his YouTube criticism of Soulja Boy). It's really this aspect of Ice-T that made me interested in reading his autobiography.

I really appreciate how Ice-T's personality comes through in this book. I was concerned that it could be ghostwritten into banality, but that is definitely not the case. There's a ton of great stuff here for anyone else who appreciates Ice-T's humor and wit.

This book is also very honest--Ice-T goes into a lot of detail about his childhood and how his family and surroundings affected him growing up. As a child, he found that he and his mother could both pass as white, which allowed him to outwardly fit in in his suburban neighborhood even though he was obviously very cognizant of the differences between him and the other kids. Once his parents both died while he was young, he was transplanted to Los Angeles, where it's also clear that he was a bit of an outsider, even if he superficially fit in. This theme continues as Ice-T joins the military and quickly realizes that he wasn't going to be happy there, either, though it is this experience that seems to have really driven Ice-T to succeed.

The most interesting part of this book to me was how observant, patient, and disciplined Ice-T was, whether he was meticulously planning robberies or methodically trying to avoid gang violence in Los Angeles during the crack boom. It's clear that these skills served Ice-T well when he was a struggling, self-sufficient teenager and that they continued to serve him well as a savvy rap star and, now, well-known actor.

Where the book fell short for me was how much of Ice-T's success as a musical artist and actor is glossed over. There's a good amount on the Body Count controversies, but not much on any of his rap music past Power. He also writes a good amount about New Jack City and Law & Order, but not a lot in between. I would have appreciated hearing how his street smarts helped him or even how overconfidence may have hurt him when he was trying to succeed in the music and movie businesses. He doesn't really delve deeply into any missteps or moments where he thought it all might fall apart. Certainly he's had his doubts about his own success, but he doesn't let on to it at all, not that he comes across as a prideful braggart--it just seems like things have been left out.

Overall, I was left wanting more, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. I definitely have hundreds of questions I'd love to ask Ice-T, especially after reading this book. But due to what was left out, it wasn't completely satisfying.
18 internautes sur 21 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Interesting Read 29 mai 2011
Par Beverly L. Archer - Publié sur
Format: Relié
This book was an impulse check out at the library. I was standing in line waiting to checkout and it was on the new non-fiction display. I enjoy watching Ice-T on Law and Order SVU. I like to read the occasional biography. So I decided to give it a try.

For the most part, I enjoyed reading this biography. I felt as though I was getting an inside glimpse into what makes Ice-T, Ice T. I realized that Ice-T is a lot different than my perception of Finn on Law & Order SVU. I found it to be well written and interesting.

However, if you are looking for a biography that will provide a moral lesson for today's youth, this is not it. He does discuss his transition from crime to legitimate work, but he doesn't take a strong stand about the wrongness of his time as a criminal. He's very true to his beliefs, which makes for an honest read.
Also, if you have a problem with foul language, particularly the F-word, then you might want to skip this book. If you want to learn about the man behind the image, then you should read this book, but if you have an "agenda", if you are looking for a motivational "don't do crime - take the straight and narrow path" story, you might want to search for another book.
If you are looking for an honest account of this man's life then this is a good read for you. He's very true to himself and he doesn't pull any punches. He doesn't smooth over his mistakes. And while he might not provide a strong warning against a life of crime, I really didn't find that he was glamorizing it. He does point out that there are risks and the price you pay if you get caught is high.
Overall, it was an impulse check out that turned out to be a rather good read.
6 internautes sur 7 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Par fmwaalex - Publié sur
Format: Relié Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit ( De quoi s'agit-il? )
Ice: A Memoir of Gangster Life and Redemption-from South Central to Hollywood

I have always been a fan of the O.G. himself since, well since I can remember, Ice T was always one of those guys that just came off real to me. So when I had the chance to read the man's autobiography I jumped at the chance since I wanted to know more about him. I was always a fan of his music and a big fan of his acting, since "New Jack City" and on all the way to Law & Order: SVU and everything else. I was sure I was going to read some things that may not have been him in the best light because like I said he comes off as real.

Oh how I was right as he goes into detail about the lesser things he has done in his life from the crimes to him getting robbed. Obviously the first one shows less light on him as with the second most people would not admit to getting robbed when they are a "hardcore" rapper. But through the course of this book I learned a lot about the man and not the entertainer. That is exactly what I was hoping for going into this, like even at an early age he got his girlfriend pregnant and instead of running from it man'd up and joined the military to take care of the child. That leads into the fact that Ice T was in the military, I had no idea really, and even when a situation lead him into going AWOL he still got an honorable discharge.

There are all kinds of other things that you will learn about the man like him as a parent and as a husband. The story above was a sample of that but there are even more interesting stories told by the man. Of course he talks about his music career and how he got there, from humble beginnings trying to make it all the way into his ever growing catalogue. He talks about his most famous songs and how not only are they still used by other rappers today but how he was actually influenced by rappers before him to write those songs.

Of course his film and television career is explored here as well telling about chance meetings and such leading to some of his biggest roles he has ever had. From "New Jack City" and on all the way to Law & Order: SVU and in-between. His own show he had that lasted a season but was still great and showed him the other side of it from behind the camera, that of course leading to his own documentary about hip hop. His stories from the various sets of his films and TV shows are great and tell you how he gets along with his co stars.

Now of course you know the whole Body Count band thing is covered, that being of course the infamous "Cop Killer" song that they released. That is covered in full detail but even more than that is the actual coming together of the band and their music [including a close call over seas]. It is all here in this book for the most part, the one thing I wish would have been covered was his film "Surviving the Game", that is one of my all time favorite films. But other than that everything you could ask for is here, from beginnings to where he is now. From his kids to his career and everything in-between, the O.G. himself tells it like it is and like only he knows how. There is even a funny story about Quentin Tarantino, what more could I ask for?
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Oh, Yes, I'm White and Nerdy! 2 janvier 2011
Par Michelle R - Publié sur
Format: Relié Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit ( De quoi s'agit-il? )
I selected this book because I'm a Law and Order fan, but also because I'm of an age where I remember the efforts by some to censor music which seems to have abated. Ice-T was one of the targets -- literally since Charlton Heston as NRA president expressed his disgust -- over a song called Cop Killer. (The song was a first person fictional account, not a suggestion.) Lastly, there is the Coco factor. His wife comes across as this really confident woman who isn't afraid to dress sexy, some might say trashy, and not worry about the opinion of others. In the book, Ice makes it clear that she's the one managing him behind the scenes and has the brains to do it.

This was an interesting read. My eyes kept reading onward and there was never a point when reading it was a chore. Look at me funny if you want, but even books that are ultimately good can become a chore at moments. The story is from his middle class childhood, which ended when he lost both parents before he hit puberty, to his teens in the foster home environment of his aunt, to his army stint, to his return home and the bulk of his criminal activities, to his rap career, to his acting career, and up to today.

Having lost his parents so young and only a few years apart, he doesn't talk about them much, but what he does say is interesting. They were both there for him physically. His father was a good provider. His mother fed him and clothed him. Neither parent was particularly nurturing though. He wrote that he couldn't recall crying as a child because he knew there was no one to cry to.

I can't vouch for everything he claims he's done, but I can vouch for what seems like honesty at the sake of likability. It would be easy for him at this stage of like to denounce the things done in his youth, the beliefs held. While some of the things he believes have seemed to evolve, his view of women and of his pimp days seems fairly unrepentant -- his belief that women are manipulative and pimps only flip that around will not win him a fan in Gloria Steinem. His pride in being the first rapper to use the words which most draw criticism says that in that respect he's the same -- although I think much of the pride is in illustrating that world, rapping the way people he knew spoke. Honesty.

I didn't like all of his beliefs, but I very much enjoy way his story was told, and respect the telling of even the less politically correct aspects were shared and juxtaposed with moments of intelligence and a willingness to put it all out there. Towards the end, he discussions his parenting of his children when they stumble into situations which would have once been normal for him -- personal experience combined with maturity and parental love.

Between this book and Decoded, the time has clearly come for an exploration of a culture which has book been idolized and marginalized, but has changed the overall culture from the late 20th century to today. It's time for these voiced to be heard in a new way and history to be told and immortalized.

4 stars
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