Something seems to have happened within hip hop, between this record and the music that was everywhere during the 1990s (and everything that’s come since). To me, someone who doesn’t know hip hop at all, this sounds considerably older to me than N.W.A or Wu Tang, and even significantly older than Public Enemy. I think it’s both the production and, occasionally, Ice-T himself (especially on the spoken word track) that make this sound More “’80s” than any other hip hop record I’ve yet heard. (It’s a really small sample, so this is probably just me.)
The programming on these tracks often feels quite primitive to the hip hop I’m familiar with. Not every track by any means, but definitely most of them. And I read that it’s much more advanced than it was on Ice-T’s debut, so what I’m hearing is the evolution of his sound but I have no context for it. Listening to something like this just after listening to Eazy-Duz-It, I think I finally understand the big deal about Dr. Dre. Maybe west coast hip hop was less advanced than east coast hip hop in terms of production (at this point)?
The lyrics feel like are part of the evolution of gangsta rap. Not as explicit, usually, as N.W.A for the most part, and occasionally it feels as though there are at least attempts at social comment, and so that feels a little more sophisticated to me than N.W.A.
But because of how old this sounds, it moves me even less than the other hip hop I know. (And that stuff doesn’t move me much at all.) So I once again find myself listening to one of these records and not knowing what to do with it. I think it’s probably good. But I really have no idea. At least I will now be able to keep Ice-T’s and Ice-Cube’s music apart now. That’s something.