Someone truly needs to write “The Tao of Ice-T.” Throughout his two books– the latest of which is the brash, entertaining “Ice: A Memoir of Gangster Life and Redemption-from South Central to Hollywood” – the man born Tracy Lauren Marrow offers insightful (if cracked) sense of wisdom alongside engaging and personal narratives that paint the rapper/actor/author as truly percipient, winsome and, above all else, genuinely entertaining.
Discussing everything from his childhood, to gang culture in South Central L.A., to his time in the military and his prominence in myriad entertainment fields, “Ice” offers a unique window into a man who is simultaneously best known– by some at least– for a series of seminal gangsta rap albums and his role as detective Fin Tutuola on “Law and Order: SVU.” Through the retelling of each stage of his life, the author injects painstaking detail and often frank, brutal honesty to great effect.
The language throughout “Ice” is coarse and the syntax is beautiful in its simplicity, and it is difficult not to image the words coming through Ice T’s smooth California drawl. The book is also awash, at times, in the typical tropes of autobiography; what makes “Ice” both endearing and endlessly readable are the narrative surprises and bits of minutia dropped in as tenets to self-improvement and personal empowerment.
Ice T seems almost nostalgic when explaining the inspiring Army sergeant who called him a “loser,” the Hawaiian pimp who introduced him to the skin trade, and the hustlers who baptized him into a temporary life of crime. He is, likewise, surprisingly candid about the “admiration” of one’s partner required for a successful relationship, the benefits of clean living and the building blocks of business savvy. While his 1994 text “The Ice Opinion” was often incendiary– if pragmatic– sociopolitical fire and brimstone, “Ice” is engaging storytelling peppered with sagacious bon mots.
Sure, some of the platitudes border on saccharine, and some of the text is well-worn territory for longtime fans, but Ice-T seems to strike a fine balance between storyteller, street philosopher, businessman and consummate nightmare walking, psychopath talking king of his jungle.