I was just sitting around, watching the television, and they had on a rapping weatherman. He was pretty good too, and he had all these other people rapping, and I thought, ‘do they really know where rap comes from? Do they respect it, or is it just a joke to them?’ This is a real art form. This requires a lot of work. I should know, I’ve done a lot of albums. So I was thinking, ‘you know what? Maybe this should be the subject of my first movie.’
I think film is the natural transition for the songwriter. You want people to get the full experience. When you write a book, you wish you could put pictures in it and when you write a song, you wish you could show the images. I met Quentin Tarantino and I was like, I want to make movies what do you think? He said, ‘you’ve written some of the greatest movies of all time’, meaning my songs. So I said ‘well one day I will be able to put it all to the screen’.
I was also watching a show on business and there was this guy who said whenever you start out, you should reach for the lowest hanging fruit and do something you’re really familiar with. So I called up a few of my friends and said, ‘I’m going to do a movie. I’m going to ask you questions. But not about the money, the cars, the jewellery, the drama…just about the craft.’ And they were like, ‘wow Ice, no-one ever interviews us about stuff like that.’ We live in a gossip based culture; people are only considering the bullshit’.
One of the keys to making this film was that I only used my friends. I knew early in the movie that if I couldn’t call you and say, ‘hey man this is Ice T, I need you to do something”, it was never going to happen. You can’t have my manager call their manager, there’s no way you’re going to get somebody, certainly not the amount of people I needed. So I said, ‘fuck it I’ll just open my phone book’.
We showed Dr Dre’s house in the film because I wanted to let people know that yeah, it turns into something. But Dr Dre’s been producing everything from NWA to Ice Cube to 50 Cent to Game. He’s one of the biggest selling record people in the world, he deserves it. He says he hasn’t been out of the studio for more than two weeks in 27 years, so there’s a work ethic that goes along with being that successful.
Content will come back, it has to, it can only be this thin for so long, and its not just rap, its all music. There used to be a movement out there. I blame it all on the internet. Music has been sucked into a pop vortex. Millions of people can make records without any right of passage, so how the hell do I know who is good? How do I find them? The artist saying real political good shit, he doesn’t have money so he has to make a record for the radio. You can’t say nothing on the radio, it’s going to dumb you down, so you’re sucked into this vortex of nothingness to become successful. God forbid he gets a hit record, then he goes, ‘fuck it, I’m never going to sing about shit, I’m going to just keep getting paid’.
When you’re dealing with rappers, you see what I call ‘The Drop’. That’s where you walk up to me and say ‘Ice we got ten seconds, what’s happening?’ You don’t get this kind of conversation we are having now, you get, ‘Yo! My Albums Coming Out! Get This! The Art Of Rap! The New Movie! What’s Up! Law And Order! Bam! Bam!’ and you go, ‘wow, does he order food in a restaurant like that?’ No, but this is what you want.
If you want to make music because you have a story to tell that’s one thing. If you want to be an entertainer just to get paid, then you don’t give a fuck, you’re going to sing whatever it takes to get paid. You are a pop artist, you are attempting to be popular. You are not singing about what you care about, and that’s why with a lot of the new artists, you don’t feel them, you don’t know who they are. You listen to an Ice T album and at the end of it you have a feeling for who I am, because there are experiences – there’s anger, humour, sex. But you listen to a lot of new stuff? Ok you’re in the club. You’re partying. You’ve got money. Now who the fuck are you?