Maintaining an active career in the entertainment industry isn’t a smooth task, even though rapper Ice-T‘s tenure on the longest-running prime-time live-action series in history, “Law and Order: SVU,” makes it appear otherwise.
Ice joined the hit drama series in 2000 as Detective Odafin “Fin” Tutuola, right before the start of the show’s second season, and recently wrapped up filming on its 22nd season. The 63-year-old also has snagged several major endorsement deals during his career and has been featured in various commercials, including CarShield and GEICO.
However, during a recent interview with HipHopDX, the New Jersey native, whose real name is Tracy Lauren Marrow, revealed that his television presence let alone his very successful endorsement deals almost didn’t happen, thanks to his previous gig and a controversial track titled “Cop Killer.” Recorded in 1991 and released a year later, the groove metal “protest record” about retaliating against police and police brutality was the product of Ice and his Body Count bandmate Ernie C. The song instantly faced extreme backlash from critics, including then-President George H.W. Bush.
“It was difficult because I’m the cop killer,” the former rapper told the media outlet. “Everybody in the mainstream was like, ‘They won’t f-ck with you because you’re too taboo.’ And I was like, ‘Right.’ And then Snoop started knocking down walls. That’s my brother. So Snoop was going through doors, and I’m like, ‘Look, Snoop’s making it through these doors; let’s try.’
Following his first deal with the insurance company GEICO, the “New Jack Hustler” said he was very cautious because “the advertising world was watching,” but luckily, there was “no blowback.” He continued, “From there, I did RXBARs, CarShield. You see, people don’t understand, but if you look at Shaq, like the one he does for The General, that could be eight to $10 million a year. The numbers aren’t bullshit. You know that b-tch Flo from Progressive? Trust me, she lives in a mansion. Flo is caked out.”
Although the idea of becoming a face for a company isn’t looked down upon as much as it used to, Ice revealed that plenty of celebrities are doing them, but they just decide to keep it under the radar.
“One of my boys, Dean Winter, who’s on ‘Law & Order’ is Mayhem” from All-State commercials, he added. “He said he did 100 of them. Basically, when Samuel Jackson says he makes more from that car commercial than his movies, pay attention,” he said of Jackson’s Capitol One commercials. “Beyoncé does DirectTV. People are doing it on the low. Cardi B. Everybody’s doing it on the low.”
Ice stated that the endorsement side of entertainment is a very “lucrative” business and encourages all to look into it. He added, “So if you’re somebody who’s kind of worked their way into Americana and people like you, they could go, ‘Oh, shit, let’s put Ice-T in a Nerf gun commercial,’ and it’s funny. They’ll pay you.”
As for “Cop Killer,” the track was ultimately removed from the project during its re-release and offered as a single. Today, you could find performances of the song on YouTube, but it is not available on streaming platforms because of the controversy behind it.