Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Body Count

One of my pet peeves is censorship of any kind but it especially chaps my ass when it's applied to any form of music. This is one of many reasons why Wal-Mart doesn't receive any of my consumer dollars. The day they decided to only stock edited versions of some folks albums because of lyrical content was the day I quit shopping there. So when Green Day came out with their new album and told Wal-Mart to fuck off, they weren't going to edit their album it just tickled me pink. I've always thought Green Day was ok, but I've never been a huge fan.
So for the first time I bought a Green Day album because of their stance against Wally world. It's a pretty darn good one at that, so now I've finally jumped on the Green Day wagon. But this post isn't about them, it's about someone else who faced controversy and censorship back in the 90's.

Body Count is the debut album of American heavy metal band Body Count which was formed by rapper Ice-T in 1990. Released in 1992, the album material focuses on various social and political issues ranging from police brutality to drug abuse. While Ice-T is primarily known for his work in the hip hop genre, he had long been a fan of various genres of rock music and had sampled songs by Jimi Hendrix, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, among other artists. He formed Body Count out of this interest. Body Count is best known for the inclusion of the controversial song "Cop Killer," which was the subject of much criticism from various political figures, although many defended the song on the basis of the group's right to freedom of speech. Vice President Dan Quayle branded "Cop Killer" as being "obscene," and President George H.W. Bush publicly denounced any record company that would release such a product. Ice T eventually chose to remove the song from the album and it was replaced with a revamped song from his first solo album called Freedom of Speech.

When the album was released, Ice T defined it as being "a rock album with a rap mentality," although the album itself does not feature rapping in any of its songs. Body Count's musical style is primarily rooted in the heavy metal and hardcore punk genres. Bottom line is that it is a great metal album. The controversy surrounding this album at the time was a major to do when finally, Ice-T decided to remove "Cop Killer" from the album of his own volition, a decision which was met by criticism from other artists who derided Ice-T for "caving in to external pressure." Seems like Ice was caught in a no win situation however one looked at it. In an interview, Ice-T stated that "I didn't want my band to get pigeon-holed as that's the only reason that record sold. It just got outta hand and I was just tired of hearing it. I said, 'fuck it,' I mean they're saying we did it for money, and we didn't. I'd gave the record away, ya know, let's move on, let's get back to real issues." The studio version of "Cop Killer" has not been re-released, although a live version of the song appears on Body Count's 2005 release Live in L.A. I don't doubt that I might take some heat for even posting this song here today. Whether you like the music or not in any case I think an artist shouldn't be censored. Myself if I don't like it I don't listen to it. I know all the issues surrounding controversial music and I'll save this discussion for another day, but a big one is we have to protect our kids fragile ears. Word to the wise if the kids want to hear it, they'll get it somehow, someway. Good luck in locating the original version.

Cop Killer
Freedom of Speech
Body Count's in the House
Buy It

Funny Toon