Ice-T

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Posted by bender 04/22/2009 @ 20:12

Tags : ice-t, rap and hip-hop, artists, music, entertainment

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Ice-T

Ice-T performs at a Body Count concert in Prague, 2006.

Tracy Marrow (born February 16, 1958), better known by his stage name Ice-T, is a Grammy Award- and NAACP Image Award-winning American rapper, actor, and author. He is credited with helping to pioneer gangsta rap, a sub-genre of hip hop music, in the late 1980s. As an actor, he is perhaps best known for his portrayal of NYPD Detective Odafin "Fin" Tutuola on the NBC police drama Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

Although one of West Coast hip hop's leading figures, Marrow, son of Solomon and Alice, was actually born in urban Newark, New Jersey, and christened Tracy by his father. When he was a child, he moved from his native Newark to the upscale community of Summit, New Jersey. His mother died of a heart attack when he was in third grade and his father died of a heart attack four years later. After his father died, he went to live with his paternal aunt in California and later attended Crenshaw High School in the district of the same name in South Central Los Angeles. After high school, he entered the 25th Infantry Division in the United States Army, an experience he has said he did not enjoy.

He was previously in a relationship with Darlene Ortiz, who was featured on the covers of his 1987 album Rhyme Pays and his 1988 album Power. The couple had a son in 1992. In early 2005, Ice-T married swimsuit model Nicole "Coco Marie" Austin.

After leaving the Army, Ice-T began his long career of recording raps for various studios on 12-inch singles. These tracks were later compiled on The Classic Collection and also featured on disc 2 of Legends of Hip-Hop. His first song was "The Coldest Rap" in 1982. His first official rap record was "6 in the Mornin'".

He finally landed a deal with a major label Sire Records. When label founder and president Seymour Stein heard his demo, he said, “He sounds like Bob Dylan.”Shortly after, he released his debut album Rhyme Pays in 1987 supported by DJ Evil E, DJ Aladdin and producer Afrika Islam, who helped create the mainly party-oriented sound. The record wound up being certified gold by the RIAA. That same year, he recorded the title theme song for Dennis Hopper's Colors, a film about inner-city life in Los Angeles. His next album Power was released in 1988, under his own label Rhyme Syndicate, and it was a more assured and impressive record, earning him strong reviews and his second gold record. Released in 1989, The Iceberg/Freedom of Speech... Just Watch What You Say established his popularity by matching excellent abrasive music with narrative and commentative lyrics.

In 1991 he released his album OG: Original Gangster, which is regarded as one of the albums that defined gangsta rap. On OG, he introduced his band Body Count in a track of the same name. Ice-T toured with Body Count on the first annual Lollapalooza concert tour in 1991, gaining him appeal among middle-class teenagers and fans of alternative music genres. The self-titled debut album by Body Count followed. For his appearance on the heavily collaborative track "Back on the Block", a composition by jazz musician Quincy Jones that "attempt to bring together black musical styles from jazz to soul to funk to rap", Ice-T won a Grammy Award for the Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group, an award shared by others who worked on the track including Jones and fellow jazz musician Ray Charles. Controversy later surrounded Body Count over its song "Cop Killer", a song intended as a narrative from the view of a criminal killing a police officer, from the National Rifle Association and various police advocacy groups. Consequently, Time Warner Music refused to release Ice-T's upcoming album Home Invasion simply because of the controversy surrounding "Cop Killer". When Ice split amicably with Sire/Warner Bros. Records after a dispute over the artwork of the album Home Invasion, he reactivated Rhyme Syndicate and formed a deal with Priority Records for distribution. Priority released Invasion in the spring of 1993. The album peaked at #9 on Billboard magazine's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and at #14 on the Billboard 200, spawning several singles including "Gotta Lotta Love", "I Ain't New To This" and "99 Problems" - which would later be covered by Jay Z in 2003. Ice-T had also collaborated with certain other heavy metal bands during this time period. For the film Judgment Night, he did a duet with Slayer on the track "Disorder". In 1995, Ice-T made a guest performance on Forbidden by Black Sabbath. Another album of his, VI - Return of the Real came out in 1996, followed by The Seventh Deadly Sin in 1999.

His first rap album since 1999, Gangsta Rap, was released on October 31, 2006. The album's cover, which "shows lying on his back in bed with his ravishing wife's ample posterior in full view and one of her legs coyly draped over his private parts," was considered to be too suggestive for most retailers, many of which were reluctant to stock the album. Some reviews of the album were unenthusiastic, as many had hoped for a return to the political raps of Ice-T's most successful albums.

Besides fronting his own band, Ice-T has also collaborated with other hard rock and metal bands, such as Icepick, Motörhead, Pro-Pain, and Six Feet Under. He has also covered songs by hardcore punk bands such as The Exploited, Jello Biafra, and Black Flag. Ice-T made his first appearance at Insane Clown Posse's Gathering Of The Juggalos (2008 edition).

Ice-T's first film appearances were in the motion pictures Breakin' (1984) and its sequel Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo (1985). These films were released before Ice-T released his first LP, although he has since stated that he considers the films and his own performance in them to be "whack".

In 1991, he embarked on a serious acting career, portraying police detective Scotty Appleton in Mario Van Peebles' feature film New Jack City, gang leader King James in Trespass (1992), followed by a notable lead role performance in Surviving the Game (1994) in addition to his many supporting roles, such as J-Bone in Johnny Mnemonic (1995), and the marsupial mutant T-Saint in Tank Girl, 1995. Marrow was also interviewed in the Brent Owens documentary Pimps Up, Ho's Down, in which he is quoted as saying "I can't act, I really can't act", and raps at the Players Ball.

In 1993 Marrow along with other rappers and the three Yo! MTV Raps hosts Ed Lover, Doctor Dre and Fab 5 Freddy starred in the comedy Who's the Man? directed by Ted Demme. In this movie Ice is a drug dealer who gets really frustrated when someone calls him by his real name "Chauncey" rather than his street name "Nighttrain".

In 1995 he had a recurring role as vengeful drug dealer Danny Cort on the television series New York Undercover, which was co-created by Dick Wolf. His work on the series earned him the 1996 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series. In 1997, Marrow co-created the short-lived series Players, which was produced by Wolf. This was followed by a role as pimp Seymour "Kingston" Stockton in Exiled: A Law & Order Movie (1998). These collaborations led Wolf to add Marrow to the cast of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Since 2000 he has portrayed Odafin "Fin" Tutuola, a former undercover narcotic officer transferred to the Special Victims Unit. In 2002, the NAACP awarded Marrow with a second Image Award, again for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, for his work on Law & Order: SVU. His participation in this series is somewhat ironic, given the early controversy surrounding his group Body Count with their song "Cop Killer". Marrow also appears in the movie Leprechaun: In the Hood. He once was presenter on Channel 4's Baaadasss TV.

In 1999, Marrow starred in the HBO movie Stealth Fighter as a United States Naval Aviator who fakes his own death, steals a F-117 stealth fighter and threatens to destroy United States military bases. This movie is often criticized for its poor script, military inaccuracies, and significant use of footage from other movies. He also acted in the movie Sonic Impact, released the same year.

Marrow voiced Madd Dogg in the video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas as well as Agent Cain in Sanity: Aiken's Artifact. He also appears as himself in Def Jam: Fight for NY and UFC: Tapout fighting video games.

At WrestleMania 2000, Marrow performed his song "Pimpin Ain't Easy" during The Godfather and D'Lo Brown's entrance.

He also played as Hamilton in a 2001 thriller film named 3000 Miles to Graceland.

Beyond Tough, a 2002 documentary series aired on Discovery Channel about the world's most dangerous and intense professions, such as alligator wrestlers and Indy 500 pit crews, was hosted by Marrow.

In 2007, he appeared as a celebrity guest star on the MTV sketch comedy show Short Circuitz. Also in late 2007, Marrow appeared in the short-music film "Hands of Hatred" which can be found online.

On October 20, 2006 Ice-T's Rap School aired and was a reality television show on VH1. It was a spin-off of the British reality show Gene Simmons' Rock School, which also aired on VH1. In Rap School, rapper/actor Ice-T teaches eight teens from York Preparatory School in New York City how to become a real hip-hop group called the "York Prep Crew" ( "Y.P. Crew" for short). Each week, Ice-T gives them assignments and they compete for an imitation gold chain with a microphone on it. On the season finale on November 17, 2006, the group performed as an opening act for Public Enemy.

Ice-T also made an appearance on NBC’s new game show "Celebrity Family Feud" on June 24 2008. In the show Ice-T and Coco teamed up in a competition against Joan and Melissa Rivers to compete for their favorite charity. The Rivers family won their round.

Ice-T also made an appearance in a reality television show in the early 2000s, an episode of the MTV show, Cribs.

Ice-T appeared on the CBS television special reality show I Get That a Lot on April 1, 2009.

He has condemned the alleged involvement of the Central Intelligence Agency in drug trafficking (in connection with the Iran-Contra scandal, as documented in the Kerry Committee report and elsewhere) on tracks such as "This One's for Me" and "Message to the Soldier", and in sections of his book.

He was criticized for misogyny in his lyrics, and this has deterred some people from supporting him. In The Ice Opinion, he claimed that he was a feminist insofar as he believed in equal pay for women and equal rights generally. He argued against the position that being a stripper or a model is demeaning to women by an analogy with a man who considers a gay man to be demeaning all men by his actions, arguing that if the latter feeling is untenable, the former is as well.

The track "Escape from the Killing Fields" expressed a difference in views from rappers like Redman and Ice Cube in that Ice-T did not see any virtue in staying in the ghetto, but rather encouraged black people to leave the ghetto. The last track on O.G. Original Gangster is a spoken-word opposition to the Gulf War and to poor conditions in prisons. After Born Dead in 1994, Ice-T's music has contained much less political commentary than before.

In 1994, Ice-T wrote a book titled The Ice Opinion: Who Gives a Fuck?. The purpose of the 199-page book was to respond to questions about his political beliefs, his life and the controversy surrounding his music. Having often voiced controversial statements about corruption, he goes into detail about his suspicions of police/CIA involvement in drug trafficking and of how certain businesses profit from prison-building.

On June 17, 2008, Ice-T appeared on DJ Cisco's Urban Legend mixtape, speaking against Soulja Boy Tell 'Em and Hurricane Chris in relation to hip-hop's criticized status.

On June 23, 2008, Ice-T responded to Soulja Boy Tell 'Em's video response, where he apologized against Hurricane Chris for the comments, saying that the comments were made "in anger" and that Hurricane isn't really in the beef. As for Soulja Boy, Ice-T apologized for the "eat a dick" comment, but continued to state that Soulja Boy's music is garbage. He also makes it clear that he isn't trying to set off a war against the Dirty South. Instead, he said: "If any war (is going to start), it's gonna be good hip-hop versus whack hip-hop, you understand what I'm saying? And if there has to be a war on that battlefield, I'm proud to be the general, nigga." At the end of the video, Ice-T's 16-year-old son appeared, repeating his father's "eat a dick" comment.

Since the Soulja Boy Tell 'Em comments, many hip hop artists have commented on the situation. Artists such as Kanye West and 50 Cent have voiced their agreement with Soulja Boy's reaction. Other artists, such as, Spice 1, Method Man, and Snoop Dogg, have decided to affiliate themselves with Ice-T in this situation and, more recently, underground emcee Apathy made remixes of the singles "Swagga Like Us" (featuring Jay-z, T.I., Kanye West, Li'l Wayne) and "Love Lockdown" (featuring Kanye West), which expressed his views on hip-hop today and emcees who use Auto-tune such as Lil' Wayne and Kanye West.

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Power (Ice-T album)

Power cover

Power is the second album by Ice-T. Released in 1988, the album produced the single and video "I'm Your Pusher," which got Ice-T major air-play on MTV.

The album cover, photographed by Glen E. Friedman, was the subject of controversy upon its original release, due to the provocative pose of Darlene Ortiz, Ice-T's girlfriend at the time. "I'm Your Pusher," an anti-drug song, was also interpreted as having the opposite message.

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Ice-T's Rap School

Ice-T's Rap School is a reality television show on VH1. It is a spin-off of the British reality show Gene Simmons' Rock School, which also aired on VH1.

In Rap School, rapper/actor Ice-T teaches eight teens from York Preparatory School in New York City how to become a real hip-hop group called the "York Prep Crew" ( "Y.P. Crew" for short). Each week, Ice-T gives them assignments and they compete for an imitation gold chain with a microphone on it. On the season finale, the group performed as an opening act for Public Enemy.

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Gangsta rap

Gangsta rap is a genre of hip hop that reflects the violent lifestyles of some inner-city youths. Gangsta is slang for the word gangster. The genre was pioneered around 1983 by Ice T with songs like Cold Wind Madness and Body Rock/Killers and was popularized by groups like N.W.A in the late '80s' After the national attention that Ice-T & N.W.A created in the late 80's, gangsta rap became the most commercially lucrative subgenre of hip hop.

The subject matter inherent in gangsta rap has caused a great deal of controversy. Criticism has come from both left wing and right wing commentators, and religious leaders, who have accused the genre of promoting homophobia, violence, profanity, promiscuity, misogyny, rape, street gangs, drive-by shootings, vandalism, thievery, drug dealing, alcohol abuse, substance abuse and materialism.

Some commentators (for example, Spike Lee in his satirical film Bamboozled) have criticized it as analogous to black minstrel shows and blackface performance, in which performers – both black and white – were made up to look African American, and acted in a stereotypically uncultured and ignorant manner for the entertainment of audiences. Gangsta rappers often defend themselves by claiming that they are describing the reality of inner-city life, and that they are only adopting a character, like an actor playing a role, which behaves in ways that they may not necessarily endorse.

The 1973 album Hustler's Convention by Lightnin' Rod featured lyrics that deal with street life, including pimping and the hustling of drugs. The Last Poets member Jalal Mansur Nuriddin delivers rhyming vocals in the urban slang of his time, and together with the other Last Poets members, was quite influential on later hip hop groups, such as Public Enemy. Many rappers, such as Ice T,Mac Dre, have credited pimp and writer Iceberg Slim with influencing their rhymes. Rudy Ray Moore's, aka Dolemite, stand-up comedy and films dealing with his hustler-pimp moose also had an impact on gangsta rap and is still a popular source for samples.

Philadelphia MC Schoolly D can probably be credited as the first rapper to use the word "gangster" in one of his songs. In his 1984 12" single "Gangster Boogie" he mentions it with "I shot call a with my gangster lean". He released the 12" single "P.S.K." (short for Park Side Killers) in 1985. In this song, Schoolly D makes direct references to his gang (PSK) as well as describing putting his pistol against another rapper's head. Schoolly D is often considered a pioneer in hardcore rap as well as gangsta rap. His fellow Philadelphian, Steady B, also helped pave the way for gangsta rap's popularity.

Ice-T continued to release gangsta albums for the remainder of the decade: Rhyme Pays in 1987, Power in 1988 and The Iceberg/Freedom of Speech...Just Watch What You Say in 1989. Ice-T's lyrics also contained strong political commentary, and often played the line between glorifying the gangsta lifestyle and criticizing it as a no-win situation.

Boogie Down Productions released their first single, "Say No Brother (Crack Attack Don't Do It)", in 1986. It was followed by "South-Bronx/P is Free" and "9mm Goes Bang" in the same year. The latter is the most gangsta-themed song of the three; in it KRS-1 describes shooting rival weed-dealers after they try to kill him in his home. The album Criminal Minded followed in 1987. Shortly after the release of the album, BDP's DJ Scott LaRock was shot and killed. After this BDP's subsequent records focused on conscious lyrics instead.

N.W.A released their first single in 1987. They were crucial to the foundations of the genre for introducing more violent lyrics over much rougher beats.Eazy E founded the N.W.A. and the Ruthless Records. "Eazy E's first single "Boyz N The Hood" from 1987 is also very similar to Schoolly D's P.S.K. song as well. The first blockbuster gangsta album was N.W.A's Straight Outta Compton first released in 1988. Straight Outta Compton also established West Coast hip hop as a vital genre, and a rival of hip hop's long-time capital, New York City. Straight Outta Compton sparked the first major controversy regarding hip hop lyrics when their song "Fuck Tha Police" earned a letter from FBI Assistant Director, Milt Ahlerich, strongly expressing law enforcement's resentment of the song. Due to the influence of Ice T and N.W.A, gangsta rap is often credited as being an originally West Coast phenomenon. In 1990, former N.W.A member Ice Cube would further influence gangsta rap with his hardcore, socio-political solo albums.

The rap group Run DMC are often credited with popularizing hardcore and abrasive attitudes and lyrics in hip hop culture, and were one of the first rap groups to dress in gang-like street clothing. Their socially conscious lyrics and the influence of rappers like Kool G Rap and Rakim would later influence socially conscious gangsta rappers and hardcore rappers such as Ice Cube and Nas. Rappers such as Big Daddy Kane, Slick Rick, LL Cool J, the group EPMD, and the seminal hardcore group Public Enemy would further popularize hard-hitting, aggressive, often socio-political lyrics, sometimes revolving around street violence, poverty, and gunplay. Aside from N.W.A. and Ice T, early West Coast rappers include Too Short (from Oakland, California), Kid Frost (who was an important Latino MC), and others from Compton, Watts, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego and San Francisco. The group Above The Law lead by Cold 187um has played an important role in the gangsta rap movement, spreading a new style as far as Dr Dre did it with N.W.A. and on his solo album The Chronic, in 1992. Kool G Rap used more and more crime-related themes in his lyrics towards the end of the decade.

Ice-T released one of the seminal albums of the genre, OG: Original Gangster in 1991. It also contained a song by his new thrash metal group Body Count, who released a self titled album in 1992. The group attracted a lot of media attention for the Cop Killer controversy.

His next album, Home Invasion, was postponed as a result of the controversy, and was finally released in 1993. While it contained gangsta elements, it was his most political album to date. After that, he left Time-Warner records. Ice-T's subsequent releases went back to straight gangsta-ism, but were never as popular as his earlier releases. He had alienated his core audience with his involvement in metal, his emphasis on politics and with his uptempo Bomb-Squad style beats during a time when G-funk was popular. He published a book "The Ice Opinion: Who Gives a Fuck?" in 1994.

Main Article: G-Funk In 1992, former N.W.A member Dr. Dre released The Chronic, which further established the dominance of West Coast gangsta rap and Death Row Records, and also began the subgenre of G-funk, a slow, drawled form of hip hop that dominated the charts for some time.Extensively sampling P-Funk bands, especially Parliament and Funkadelic, G-funk was multi-layered, yet simple and easy to dance to, with anti-authoritarian lyrics that helped endear it to many young listeners. Another G-Funk success was Ice Cube's Predator album, released at the same time as The Chronic in 1992. It sold over 5 million copies and was #1 in the Charts, despite the fact that Ice Cube wasn't a Death Row artist. One of the genre's biggest crossover stars was Dre's protégé Snoop Doggy Dogg (Doggystyle, 1993), now known as Snoop Dogg, whose exuberant party-oriented themes made songs such as "Gin and Juice" club anthems and top hits nationwide. Tupac Shakur (All Eyez on Me, 1996) has endured as one of the most successful and influential hip hop artists of all time. Snoop and Tupac were both artists on Death Row Records, owned by Dre and Marion "Suge" Knight. Many of Tupac's greatest hits sampled or interpolated earlier music by Zapp & Roger.

Mafioso rap is a hardcore hip hop sub-genre which flourished in the 1990s. It is the pseudo-Mafia extension of East Coast hardcore rap, and was the counterpart of West Coast G-Funk rap during the 1990s. In contrast to West Coast gangsta rappers, who tended to depict realistic urban life on the ghetto streets, Mafioso rappers' subject matter included self-indulgent and luxurious fantasies of rappers as Mobsters, or Mafiosi. These stylized depictions translated to music videos that showcased rappers playing mobster roles. Kool G Rap is generally seen as the creator of the genre with his collaborator DJ Polo with Raekwon and Nas popularizing the genre with their albums Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... and It Was Written. Other East Coast rappers, such as Jay-Z and Notorious B.I.G. began to take on the genre as well. One notable example of the genre came about in 1995 with the debut album from AZ entitled Doe or Die. Several songs ("Sugar Hill" and "Mo' Money, Mo' Murder, Mo' Homicide" especially) depicted self indulgent fantasies of living the high life and of the murder of a highly respected Mob Boss.

Meanwhile, rappers from New York City, such as Kool G. Rap & DJ Polo (Live and Let Die, 1992, Black Moon (Enta Da Stage, 1993), Wu-Tang Clan (Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), 1993), Onyx (Bacdafucup, 1993), Mobb Deep (The Infamous, 1995), Nas (Illmatic, 1994), the Notorious B.I.G. (Ready to Die, 1994), Big L (Lifestylez ov da Poor & Dangerous, 1995) and Raekwon (Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, 1995) pioneered a grittier sound known as East Coast hardcore hip hop. B.I.G. and the rest of Puff Daddy's Bad Boy Records roster paved the way for New York City to take back chart dominance from the West Coast as gangsta rap continued to explode into the mainstream. It is widely speculated that the "East Coast/West Coast" battle between Death Row Records and Bad Boy Records resulted in the deaths of Death Row's Tupac Shakur and Bad Boy's Notorious B.I.G. This had a knock-on effect on Death Row itself, which sank quickly when most of its big name artists like Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg left and it found itself on the receiving end of multiple lawsuits. Dr. Dre, at the MTV Video Music Awards, claimed that "gangsta rap was dead". Although Puff Daddy's Bad Boy Entertainment fared better than its West Coast rival, it continued to lose popularity and support of the hip hop fan base with a more mainstream sound, and challenges from Atlanta and, especially, Master P's No Limit stable of popular rappers.

After the deaths of Biggie and Tupac, gangsta rap remained a major commercial force. However, most of the industry's major labels were in turmoil, or bankrupt, and new locations sprang up.

Atlanta had been firmly established as a hip hop center by artists such as Goodie Mob and OutKast and many other Southern hip hop artists emerged in their wake, whilst gangsta rap artists achieving the most pop-chart success. Jermaine Dupri, an Atlanta-born record producer and talent scout, had great success after discovering youthful pop stars Kris Kross (Totally Krossed Out, 1992) performing at a mall, and later masterminded a large roster of commercially successful acts on his So So Def label which although mostly weighted towards pop-rap & R&B, also included rap artists such as Da Brat (Funkdafied, 1994), and himself.

Master P's No Limit Records label, based out of New Orleans, also became quite popular, though critical success was very scarce, with the exceptions of some later additions like Mystikal (Ghetto Fabulous, 1998). No Limit had begun its rise to fame with Master P's The Ghetto Is Trying to Kill Me! (1994), and subsequent hits by Silkk the Shocker (Charge It 2 Da Game, 1998) and C-Murder (Life or Death, 1998). Cash Money Records, also based out of New Orleans, had enormous commercial success with a very similar musical style and quantity-over-quality business approach to No Limit but were less ridiculed.

Memphis collective Hypnotize Minds, led by Three 6 Mafia and Project Pat, have taken gangsta rap to some of its darker extremes. Led by in-house producers DJ Paul and Juicy J, the label became known for its pulsating, menacing beats and uncompromisingly thuggish lyrics. However, in the mid-2000s, the group began attaining more mainstream popularity, eventually culminating in the Three 6 Mafia winning an Academy Award for the song It's Hard Out Here For A Pimp from Hustle and Flow.

Midwest gangsta rap originated in the mid 1990's and is dominant in the 2000s. Midwest Hip Hop originated fast-pacing rap. Many midwestern hip hop artists use midwestern gangsta rap in their lyrics and style such as Eminem (Detroit), and Twista(Chicago). Eminem began gangsta rap in the midwest during the late 1990s with his underground album The Slim Shady EP. Later, his major-label debut album, The Slim Shady LP, represented midwestern gangsta rap very strong as it was now in the mainstream. Cleveland based rap group Bone Thugs-N-Harmony also had a monumental impact on the Midwestern gangsta rap scene. The mid-1990s saw Bone metamorphose into an extremely popular commercial rap assemblage with the release of their critically acclaimed album E 1999 Eternal. Their fast, harmonizing vocals (coupled with their fast rap delivery) changed the limitations of gangsta rap. Royce da 5'9, born and raised in Detroit, also represents Midwest Hip Hop and uses its gangsta rap.

Houston first came on to the national scene in the late 1980s with the violent and disturbing stories told by the Geto Boys, with member Scarface going successfully solo in the mid 90s. In the early 2000s Houston, also known as the "3rd coast", exploded into the forefront of Southern hip hop, with commercially successful acts like Mike Jones, Slim Thug, Lil Flip, Chamillionaire and Paul Wall. UGK now calls Houston home although they are originally from Port Arthur, Texas. UGK which consists of Bun B and Pimp C (deceased) are considered to be Texas underground legends. They have been an enormously influential entity on southern hip hop since the 1980s.

Houston has produced hip hop artists such as Mike Jones, Slim Thug, Lil Flip, Chamillionaire, Paul Wall, Bun B and Pimp C of UGK, Brooke Valentine, Trae, Z-Ro, Big Hawk, Big Pokey, South Park Mexican, Devin the Dude, DJ Screw, Fat Pat, Lil' Keke, Scarface, E.S.G. and the legendary Geto Boys.

The Chopped and Screwed genre was developed in Houston, Texas which remains the location most associated with the style. The late DJ Screw, a South Houston DJ, is credited with the creation of and early experimentation with the genre. DJ Screw began making mixtapes of the slowed-down music in the early 1990s and began the Screwed Up Click. This provided a significant outlet for MCs in the South-Houston area, and helped local rappers such as Big Moe, Lil' Flip, E.S.G., UGK, Lil' Keke and Z-Ro gain regional and sometimes national prominence.

Before the late nineties, gangsta rap and hip hop in general, while being extremely popular, had always been seen as a fringe genre that remained firmly outside of the pop mainstream. However, the rise of Bad Boy Records signalled a major stylistic change in gangsta rap (or as it is referred to on the East Coast, hardcore rap), as it morphed into a new subgenre of hip hop which would become even more commercially successful. Ice Cube is seen to have contributed to gangsta rap's move towards conquering the pop charts, as he produced albums which included both gritty gangsta narratives and polished, catchy, danceable pop productions entirely aimed at the clubs and at the mainstream pop charts. Between the release of Biggie's debut album Ready to Die in 1994 and his follow-up Life after Death in 1997, his sound changed from the darker, sample-heavy production to a cleaner, more upbeat sound fashioned for popular consumption (though the references to guns, drug dealing and life as a thug on the street remained). R&B-styled hooks and instantly recognizable samples of well-known soul and pop songs from the 1970s and 1980s were the staples of this sound, which was showcased primarily in his latter-day work for The Notorious B.I.G. ("Mo Money, Mo Problems"), Mase ("Feels So Good"), and non Bad Boy artists such as Jay-Z ("Can I Get A...") and Nas ("Street Dreams").

Also achieving similar levels of success with a similar sound at the same time as Bad Boy was Master P and his No Limit label in New Orleans, as well as the New Orleans upstart Cash Money label. A Cash Money artist, The B.G., popularized a catch phrase in 1999 that sums up what the majority of late-nineties and all through the 2000s mainstream hip hop focused on subject-wise: "Bling-Bling." Whereas much gangsta rap of the past had portrayed the rapper as being a victim of urban squalor, the persona of late-nineties mainstream gangsta rappers was far more weighted towards hedonism and showing off how much money they have, the best jewelry, clothes, liquor, and women. Many of the artists who achieved such mainstream success, such as G-Unit and Jay-Z, originated from the gritty East Coast rap scene and were influenced by hardcore artists such as The Notorious B.I.G and Nas. Mase, Jay-Z and Cam'ron are also typical of the more relaxed, casual flow that became the pop-gangsta norm.

Pop-inflected gangsta rap continues to be successful into the 21st century, with many artists deftly straddling the divide between their hip hop audience and their pop audience, such as Remy Ma, Papoose, G Unit, and many others.

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Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

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Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (also known as Law & Order: SVU or simply SVU) is an American police procedural TV series about the Special Victims Unit in a fictional version of the 16th Precinct of the New York City Police Department. The show debuted on September 20, 1999 as a spin-off of the crime drama Law & Order and follows the same opening style of its parent. SVU is currently the highest-rated series of the Law & Order franchise, and is one of NBC's top rated shows. The franchise also includes two other series dramas: the original Law & Order, and Law & Order: Criminal Intent.

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit has been shot on film in the 16:9 aspect ratio since at least 2003 (the year first-run episodes also began airing in HDTV). Since 2006, all new episodes of the multiple Law & Order series have aired in 16:9. Recently USA Network began airing reruns going all the way back to "Payback" in wide-screen (16:9) format.

In the criminal justice system, sexually based offenses are considered especially heinous. In New York City, the dedicated detectives who investigate these vicious felonies are members of an elite squad known as the Special Victims Unit. These are their stories.

SVU uses a re-mixed version of the theme music from its parent show Law & Order. The title theme for the UK terrestrial channel Five version is the instrumental version of the song, "I'm Not Driving Anymore" from Rob Dougan's Furious Angels.

Since the second season on, the franchise convention of the characters walking toward the camera at the end of the opening sequence was replaced by the cast gathered in front of a desk. This change was dictated by the large credited cast (nine members as of 2007).

The photo in the opening credits for Dann Florek (from the beginning of the show) and Ice-T (starting with the second episode of season two) has only changed once since they first appeared on the show. The photo for Mariska Hargitay has changed five times (Season one has one photo, seasons 2-4and the first four episodes of season 5 have another, the rest of season 5 has a third, seasons 6-8 have a fourth, and season 9 has a new picture). Christopher Meloni, Richard Belzer and B.D. Wong had new photos starting with the fifth episode of season five (coinciding with the debut of Diane Neal as Casey Novak). Neal had one photo for season five, a second for seasons six and seven, and a new photo for season eight and a new one for season nine. Tamara Tunie, who first appeared in the opening credits in season seven, has a new photo for season eight and yet another for season nine. The photos for each cast member were updated for season 9 to coincide with the addition of Adam Beach to the cast.

The current order of introduction in the opening credits is Meloni, Hargitay, Belzer, Ice-T, McManus, Wong, Tunie, and Florek. Meloni, Hargitay, and Belzer have always been the first three, with Florek last, much as the district attorney has always been last on the original series.

Prior to the September 11, 2001 attacks, the show's opening sequence featured two separate shots of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center. After September 11, the show's opening sequence changed, with generic city shots replacing the World Trade Center. The original shots can be seen in syndicated episodes and the DVD collections of the first two seasons.

The show originally aired on Monday nights at 9:00 p.m. ET for the first nine episodes, from September 20 through November 29, 1999. It was then shifted to Friday nights at 10 p.m. ET on January 7, 2000, and remained in that time slot through the end of Season 4 on May 16, 2003. SVU was placed in its current time slot for the Season 5 premiere on September 23, 2003 Tuesday nights at 10:00 p.m. ET and occasionally runs previous shows on Saturday nights at 10:00 p.m. ET. The USA Network also runs previous episodes on weekday afternoons, generally in a block from 3 to 5 p.m. ET.

The series will be vacating its Tuesday 10:00 p.m. slot in fall 2009 when NBC begins a primetime weeknight Jay Leno series.

Like its predecessor, many Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episodes are clear references to high-profile real-life cases (or famous fictional works), and are based on thinly veiled dramatizations of these actual events, though the particulars and outcome may end up to be quite different. As many episodes of all three Law and Order shows, the plots are "ripped from the headlines" not only taking on high-profile cases, but instituting many mainstream cultural references as fictitious entities, such as a faux Facebook or MySpace account.

The show is more character-driven than most police procedurals (such as the rest of the Law & Order franchise), with a less-than-complete focus on the main case, similar. For example, detectives Elliot Stabler (Meloni) and Olivia Benson (Hargitay) each signed up to work for the Special Victims Unit for different reasons: Stabler felt a moral responsibility to protect all people from the criminals that they had to deal with, especially because he had four children of his own, and later dealing with anger issues that drove away his wife and children. Benson was conceived when her mother was raped and had to put up with much of her subsequent alcoholism.

The Special Victims Squad does not investigate any murder, robbery or child pornography cases. Murders and robberies are investigated by precinct detective squads. If a sex crime is involved, the Special Victims Squad may assist in the investigation. Child pornography is investigated by the NYPD Vice Enforcement Sexual Exploitation of Children Unit.

The characters of Olivia Benson and Elliot Stabler were named for creator Dick Wolf's children. Wolf's third child, daughter Sarina, had a character named for her in the original Law & Order (A.D.A. Serena Southerlyn, played by Elisabeth Röhm from 2001-05). Also, in Special Victims' Unit, Benson's mother was named Serena. In the original "Law & Order" Detective Ray Curtis' daughter was also named Olivia.

Two of the regular characters have appeared in two other NBC series: Capt. Don Cragen (Florek), who was on the first three seasons of Law & Order and Detective John Munch (Belzer), formerly a Baltimore detective on Homicide: Life on the Street. This character also made appearances on Law & Order, Law & Order: Trial by Jury, Arrested Development, The Beat, The X-Files and the HBO series The Wire.

Jerry Orbach (Detective Lennie Briscoe), Jesse L. Martin (Detective Ed Green), Fred Thompson (Arthur Branch), Carolyn McCormick (Dr. Elizabeth Olivet) and Leslie Hendrix (Elizabeth Rodgers) are the only actors to play the same character on all four Law & Order series (Law & Order, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Law & Order: Criminal Intent and Law & Order: Trial by Jury). Fred Thompson (Arthur Branch) is the only one of them to also appear in Conviction, another show in the Law & Order universe. Sam Waterston's character, Jack McCoy guest starred on both Trial by Jury and SVU as Executive A.D.A. and D.A. respectively.

The show, like its parent show, has had several cast changes, although the original four credited cast members, Christopher Meloni, Mariska Hargitay, Richard Belzer, and Dann Florek, have remained with the show through the first 10 seasons.

The show's first A.D.A. was Abbie Carmichael played by Angie Harmon. While plans had originally called for Harmon to serve as a recurring guest star, she appeared in only six episodes during the show's first season.

Munch's partner, Detective Brian Cassidy, was played by Dean Winters during the show's first season. Cassidy was just assigned to the unit as the show began, who transferred to narcotics because he was having trouble dealing with some of the disturbing cases the division dealt with regularly, and possibly because his relationship with Benson ended.

Michelle Hurd played Detective Monique Jeffries. Jeffries was originally a minor character, but when Dean Winters left the show mid-season, she played a more prominent role as Munch's partner. Hurd played the role for a few episodes during the second season, after which she was written out of the show as part of a police review of the unit.

After Hurd left the series, the Jeffries character was replaced with Odafin 'Fin' Tutuola (played by rapper-turned-actor, Ice-T); he has been on the show since season two. While technically Munch's partner, he has become much more prominent on the show than Munch; while Munch usually remains at the station, with sometimes only a few lines in some episodes, Tutuola is much more active in aiding the main characters' investigations, and is often sent on undercover assignments as well.

In season two, the show added Stephanie March whose character, Alexandra Cabot, served as a permanent supporting A.D.A. for the show. In season five, Cabot is shot and presumed dead, but is actually placed in the Witness Protection Program for her safety. Casey Novak, portrayed by Diane Neal, fills Cabot's vacancy as the new SVU A.D.A. in the 2003 episode "Serendipity." Neal's final episode was the 2008 season finale "Cold." Stephanie March reprised her role when her character comes out of Witness Protection and testifies against the man who shot her. On January 9, 2009, it was announced that Stephanie March will return for a six episode arc beginning with the episode "Lead" set to air on March 10, 2009.

B.D. Wong began appearing as George Huang, a forensic psychiatrist on loan from the FBI, in the penultimate episode of season two. He was a frequently recurring character during season three before being elevated to contract status starting with season four.

Tamara Tunie, as Melinda Warner, is the division's current Medical Examiner on the show. Having played the role in virtually every episode of seasons four, five, and six, Tunie was added to the opening credits for the show's seventh season.

In 2006, Connie Nielsen was cast as Detective Dani Beck, a warrants detective who comes from a specialized unit, to fill in for Benson (Hargitay was on maternity leave) who was undercover for the FBI at the time. Beck's husband, a police officer, was murdered in 2002, and she and Stabler flirted with the possibility of a romantic involvement. In the November 21, 2006 episode, she admits to him she feels unable to deal with the nature of the crimes handled by SVU, but implies she would be willing to stay if Stabler asked her. When he tells her she needs to remain for herself, not him, she tells him goodbye and exits the series.

It was announced that Adam Beach would be joining SVU full-time starting in season nine with the role of Chester Lake, a character who first appeared in a guest-starring role as a Brooklyn SVU detective. In the January 16, 2007 episode, he helped Tutuola and his son stop a serial rapist, then returned in the eighth season finale as a transfer to Manhattan SVU. On April 18, 2008, it was reported by the Hollywood Reporter that Adam Beach was leaving his role after his one-season contract had officially expired.

On May 13, 2008, the season finale, both Beach and Neal left the show. It was announced on June 24, 2008 that Michaela McManus would replace Neal as the show's new A.D.A. when SVU returned for its tenth season.

SVU premiered on a Monday in 1999. After the November 29 episode, the show was sent to Friday nights where it found its audience and following its first season became a top 20 show. Beginning with the fifth season, the show was aired on Tuesdays to compete with CBS' Judging Amy and ABC's NYPD Blue. In recent years, SVU has consistently outperformed the original Law & Order in the Nielsen ratings for first run episodes. Despite this, it has never eclipsed the peak popularity of the original series.

Seasonal rankings (based on average total viewers per episode) of Law & Order: SVU on NBC.

Note: Each U.S. network television season starts in late September and ends in late May, which coincides with the completion of May sweeps.

In its second season in weekend syndication, "SVU" is improving time periods across the country, averaging more than 4.7 million viewers per week and it's the #1 off-network weekly drama in many key demos, according to season-to-date Nielsen Media Research GAA ratings data. The series is #1 among all off-net weekend dramas in Women 18-49, Adults 18-49 and Adults 25-54 (tied with "CSI: NY"). For the week of December 1, 2008, "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" scored its season-high ratings in syndication, averaging a 3.9 HH rating and 5.3 million viewers.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has released Law & Order: Special Victims Unit on DVD in Regions 1, 2 & 4 for the very first time. Seasons 1-7 have been released in Regions 1, 2 and 4. Season 9 will be released in Region 1 on May 26, 2009 and Season 8 in Region 2 on April 13, 2009.

Seasons 1, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 are available for purchase on the Amazon Unbox Video System and on Apple iTunes in both HD and standard formats in the United States.

Seasons 1-7 are also available on Netflix's Instant Viewing feature.

Twelve episodes (in a random order, taken from the first three seasons of the show) were remade for Russian television to much success, which resulted in a full season order for fall of 2007.

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Source : Wikipedia