Rhyme Pays (Deluxe Version)
By the time Rhyme Pays was released in 1987 Ice-T was almost thirty years old, and had spent several years honing his craft in the Los Angeles underground rap scene. T’s diction, delivery, and formidable storytelling skills are the result of years of hard work. Of course, what grabbed everyone’s attention was the rapper’s raw subject matter, heralded by the immortal single “6 ‘N the Mornin,” which helped to define gangsta rap, and has since become a hip-hop standard. Even today, the song’s portrayal of the criminal lifestyle is as potent as poison and as sharp as a dagger. Nowadays rappers talk about all kinds of shocking things, but none of them can match Ice-T for style. His every line is delivered like a pimp slap across the jaw. A good part of the album’s force comes from its superlative production team: Afrika Islam did the beats and DJs Aladdin and Evil E did the scratches, which are righteously vicious. It doesn’t matter than Rhyme Pays is now more than twenty years old — drive slow down any street with this turned up on the stereo, and you’re still guaranteed to be the baddest player on the block.