Throwback Thursday- Rhyme Pays

I was listening to Shade 45 on the way home today and was shocked that the All Out Show with Rude Jude wasn’t on. My desire to change the station faded when DJ Godfather played 6 In The Morning by Ice-T. I thought to myself, ‘Rhyme Pays‘ should be my next feature for Throwback Thursday.

Depending on your age, you may not know Ice-T the rapper. But ‘Rhyme Pays’ was Ice-T’s debut studio album. Released in 1987, it was arguably one of the first gangster rap albums released out of the West Coast. And probably one of the most important. It was also the first hip hop album to be released on Sire and Warner Brothers records.

Throwback Thursday- Rhyme Pays

The album artwork spoke volumes about the content of the album. You see Ice-T in a red convertible with his boy Evil E and his then wife Darlene Ortiz. Even back then Ice-T was living the life most rappers today can only write about. His car wasn’t rented. The beautiful woman on the album cover was his wife, not a paid model. He was real.

Throwback Thursday- Rhyme Pays

‘Rhyme Pays’ was one of the first albums that gave listeners a glimpse of the gang culture in L.A. The lyrics were violent, misogynistic, and funny at times. But there’s not a song on the album that glorified gang culture.

Ice-T successfully articulated the risks associated with the lifestyle without preaching. Most importantly, the album slapped. It still does.

6 ‘n the morning police at my door…

6 ‘N The Morning is considered to be the song that defined the gangster rap genre. It tells the story of a day in the life of a gangster. The song begins with Ice-T starting his day by escaping out of window while police are knocking on the front door. He’s mad he didn’t grab his old school tape on the way out. Because even gangsters love music.

Later that day he’s in the streets hanging with his boys. A few dice games later he and his friends beat up a woman who blatantly disrespects the crew. He couldn’t get away with that now. But 1987 was a different time. I’m a female. And I wasn’t offended.

The climax of the song describes a scenario where he and his friends are pulled over. The police find an Uzi .44 and a hand grenade. After squabbling with the cops and “shanking” one in the eye he’s sent to prison.

And so the story goes…

He posts bail, gets out, and has few more run-ins with the law before he flees to the East Coast. The song ends at 6 in the morning:

Fell asleep on the plane and so did he, woke up chilling in N.Y.C
Called up my posse when I got there
Hit the Latin Quarter and Union Square
Rooftop devil’s nest, the rest we passed
Back-door’d the Palladium just for class
About 4 a.m. we crashed the deuce
We never catch static ’cause my boys got juice
Deuced it to the Bronx to rest our heads
Where a shoot-out jumped off, nine people lay dead
It sounded like it happened with a Mac-10 blast
But it was 6 in the morning, we didn’t wake up to ask

Other songs on the album included Sex, 409, Pain, I love Ladies, and Squeeze the Trigger. ‘Rhyme Pays’ doesn’t meet the criteria I would normally use to be rated a classic. But it is a classic.

If you’ve never heard this album or haven’t listened to it recently you should check it out. It’s 41 minutes worth spending.

Comment with your thoughts on the album and your recommendations for next week’s Throwback Thursday.

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