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Hold the Mayo

CHECK LIST **** Great Balls of Fire *** Good Vibrations ** Maybe Baby * Running on Empty

**ICE-T. “Power.” Ice-T, L.A.'s most famous rapper, is a consummate hip-hop professional, the guy you turn to when you need, say, 20 seconds of slick rap for the sound track of an especially hip mayonnaise commercial. He can--and has, and will--rap exactly like Rakim or L. L. Cool J, Kurtis Blow or Melle Mel, whatever might be required at the time, and his production values are high enough for movie scores and mainstream TV.

At least partially because of his developed technique, though, Ice-T’s records come across as knowing pastiches, more exercises in street style than the hard-core texts they’re packaged as. On this latest album, sometimes he will cop the sneering articulation of Rakim, and sometimes appropriates the revolutionary attitude and forthright declamatory style of Public Enemy’s Chuck D. Even “Pusher,” the strongest song in the package, owes almost all its charm to Curtis Mayfield’s classic “Pusher Man,” on which it is based. The day Ice-T sounds like Ice-T is something to look forward to.


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