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An Open Forum Interview
Midnight Special Bookstore 1994
Photo Credit: Rolling Stone Magazine
ICE-T TOWN HALL INTERVIEW
MIDNIGHT SPECIAL BOOKSTORE - MARCH 1994
(Older lady: "Where is your book? Look, it's in the back and in the table of contents. it has two definitions. Did you buy the book? Where is your book? Where is your book? Do you got it? Hell no, cause you just a bitch!" Crowd is taken aback.)
Ice-T: See, sometimes the words do kinda get in the way and it's....
I'm gonna explain. I'm gonna try to break it down one more time to make you understand. The bottom line...this part about the youth. It's not just the word bitch, it's violence, it's everything about rap. Ok. In other words, are these violent words conditioning kids into saying these words that they don't understand?
Now, now, first off, the problem with rap is not that we say the words, the problem is that rap is huge. Ok, rap's not just people saying bitch. if every guy on the street was saying it there wouldn't be a problem. The problem is that it's coming over the radio. And it's more programming.
But look, the qustion is, how do we determine who it affects and who it doesn't affect? People say that it's the violent records... but there's kids who go to school that it doesn't affect. Certain people need guidance. And there's a sticker on these records that says parental guidence is suggested. That's the stupidest thing in the world because parental guidance is always suggested.
Ok, now. My father used to curse and stuff but I never cursed around him, because I knew what was up. He'd bust me in my mouth. But me, myself...I'm an attempt, as far as my rap, to try and stay as true to myself, how I am. I use the word bitch. I just came back from San Diego, and we was talking. Man, and the girls was acting all kinda funny.
One thing I want to ask you is, what has created this kinda war between men and women? Because, men are uptight. There's a lotta feelings of mistreatment and stuff. Like, I was at a college the other day and I asked the people and I said let's do this. With the black women. You take a black man. Why are we angry? Ok, why do we yell "bitch" so much, right? You take a black man and he becomes sucessful, right? Sisters will say he wanna run away with a white girl! Yet there are more black men in prevalent power positions with women who don't have nothing. We'll go get a girl from the projects, no problem. My girl I'm with, she never done. Right? She's Hispanic, Lataino, right? Well, bust it, it don't matter.
But when sisters and women get into power it's hard for them to deal with poor men. Women look up the scale. Not all women. But some. Men are angry about that. They're like, 'when's the day comng when the women will turn around and help the men?' Well, now, the women say, 'now, you're a man, we're women.' There's a lot a problems going on nowadays between the man and woman. And I just look at it as, like, female and male jousting. We will always talk shit to each other. I will always say 'sister you aint shit' and she will say, 'nigga, you aint shit.' And this is part of it.
And this woman she will... and they say, 'what's the definition of bitch?' A bitch is someone who will fuck everyone but you. So she's a bitch. It's like, it's like, we just use words that we throw out in anger, that's all.
(Woman in audience: but women take offense a certain words more than others; still those words are used casually as if they don't do that, so there is a disconnect. We need to think about our words and the effects.)
Ice-T: The effects.
(Woman: So we need to be aware of what the words do. I don't care what you think is the "why". What we say we think they should do is not what they really do).
Ice-T: I just happen to know a lot of 'em. And... I just know a lot of em. And I just talk about 'em cause I know a lot of 'em. I meet a new one every day.
(Woman: I just want to hear you say you know what the words mean to other people).
I hear you, I hear exactly what you're sayin. I know. It's a question of "Do I?" But I try, you know, to make records where I show people in a positive light, too. You know, it's just a word I use. And I use it fluently. And...I can't lose it. And I think if I didn't say the word... I've done records where I've taken out the profanity. I've done them. I said, 'this is so fake. This aint me.This is not me.' It's like, I 'm being me. So as long as it's in my vocabulary I gotta use it in my records 'cause it's just being real. (Takes next question) What's up homie?
(Question: Man starts to ask about something, is interrupted by a woman laughing).
Oh, she just came to cause trouble! Y'all wrote a movie with "bitches" all in it? Somebody grab her and take her to the back and whip her. She done messed up! Naw, I'm sorry. Naw...
(Man with another lady who asked a question before: We're writing a film, the question is about hiphop in movies. Is the gangster content in films accurate? What could he do to make the more truthful?)
Well, In a way rap is the other side of that TV show Cops. You know? If you ever watch Cops, ok. We're behind him, here he goes, beat him down the street. But you never hear him talk. Rap is that guy's story. That's what rap is, the alternate. We have to keep this thing going.
Because the media will portray it their way and we have to come back and say, "No, no this is why I did what I did..." You know? Um, it's gonna be portrayed better and better the more and more black people and people from the hood start making the films. You know, at this moment, you know, the number of, the number of films about the neighborhood can be counted on one hand.
And, um, it'll be portrayed more postively in some and more negatively in other cases. I'm just down with real films, you know? I watched Spike Lee's School Daze and stuff like that. That was real, you know, about being in college. I watched Men in Society, that was real. And I think that being black we have to be able to be in contact with our positives and our negatives. People dissed New Jack City. That was about drug dealers. But we had a female lawyer.
For every negative person we had a positive person in the film. Because being black, we are all those things. We are totally intelligent black people and we are ignorant at times. Now one problem is, people say 'well, why don't we just show the good side?' But that's fake. And I'm incapable of being fake.
That's my whole life, Is just being, saying, exactly that. I mean, people been telling me, 'yo man, go on the radio'. I can't go on the radio, man. They don't play my records. I'm tellin you. I'm going to tell you when I get on the station. 'You don't play my shit. ' You know? I'm not gonna kiss ass, and I never kiss ass in this business.
So I think that your film and everybody else that does films and writes books is gonna just portray the hood more or less in its proper perspective. It has to be more and more people. My sister out there gotta make her movie, and let the brothers have it. And it's all gotta be an exchange. But you gotta remember, when yu're dealing with Ice-T, you're just dealing with one person's opinion. And who gives a fuck?
But I...And that's the name of the book. The Ice Opinion: Who Gives A Fuck? But it's from what I see. And I think by me, letting you know exactly what I see, it might make you more excited about this other guy you see boppin down the street. That's all.
You gotta do it. I'm waiting to see your film. I mean, I'm just trying to set it off. I'm in it? Hah! Damn. I'm in it? Am I? Oh. Have I shot it yet? Cool, I'm in it. I'm in a new movie. What's it called? Ok, let me start plugging my new film Party Over Here. Black writer. Directed by a very powerful sister. Non-bitch, don't call her bitch. She will whoop your ass! And it's gonna be allright. Cool. Party Over Here! I'm down. (To next person with a question) What's up?
(Question: Guy makes comment, says "but this lady..." Refers to lady who asked previous question, "why's that she's uptight?' She again looks to step in.)
Ice-T: Oh, leave her alone! Don't get her started. Don't get her started. Go girl, you go girl.
(Girl defends herself, noting something about history and women being historically more peaceful whereas gangs are typically pack-like male behavior.)
Ice-T: I hear you. But the pack came within the female circle, that's where the war is.
(Women defends idea.)
Ice-T: Believe me, I can put a gang of feminists in a room and y'all will fight until the night's over! It's not a... it's a whole bunch of different divisions of sexism.
(Woman: what makes you an authority?)
Because! I speak to more feminists probably than you ever have. Because I tour the world. I tour the world. I been in rooms with 2000 feminists and spoke on the topic. I know more about being a woman than... you might.
Ha! But I don't know that much, I ain't a cross-dresser. I hear what you're sayin, I hear what you're sayin. But let me ask you a question. Do you like Madonna? No? Do you? Allright. How man million women like Madonna? Are they all stupid, or do they have their own opinion? I rest my case.
(Q: What about systematically? "How many black people nationwide...?")
I don't know. I'm not involved with politics or systematic bullshit.
Interview Audio Version
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