drum into someone's head

The Iceberg/Freedom of Speech...Just Watch What You Say

The Iceberg/Freedom of Speech... Just Watch What You Say is the third album by Ice-T.

Released in 1989, the album has an uncharacteristically gritty sound, featuring some of the darkest musical scores Ice-T has ever released.


The album was released after Ice-T had been encountering censorship problems on tour. In The Ice Opinion: Who Gives a Fuck?, the rapper states that "People had already told me what I could not say onstage in Columbus, Georgia. You couldn't say anything they called a 'swear' word. You couldn't touch yourself. They were using the same tactics they used on everyone from Elvis and Jim Morrison to 2 Live Crew".

The album's cover, featuring a B-boy with a shotgun shoved in his mouth, and two pistols pressed against each side of his head, reflected Ice-T's experiences with the concept of freedom of speech. "The concept of that picture is, 'Go ahead and say what you want. But here comes the government and here come the parents, and they are ready to destroy you when you open your mouth'".

Lyrical themes

"Shut Up, Be Happy" consists of a spoken word performance by Jello Biafra laid over a sample of the low, heavy, distorted guitar from Black Sabbath's "Black Sabbath". "The Iceberg" alternates between typical violent metaphor, outlandish boasts, and comical sexual situations involving other members of Ice's Rhyme Syndicate. "Lethal Weapon" tells listeners that the mind is the most powerful weapon:

"The Weapon power has been witnessed upon my page/From Martin Luther's dream, to Hitler's psycho rage."

"You Played Yourself" advises listeners to be smart and not let themselves "be played". "Peel Their Caps Back" is about committing a drive-by to avenge a slain friend. Unlike other songs where violence is a metaphor for the rapper's ability to defeat other rappers lyrically, this song is a stark depiction of what could lead to such an event. However, it contains two surprising elements: in the end, the main character is killed, and the whole event is written off by the media as just another gang killing.

In "The Girl Tried to Kill Me", Ice-T raps about an encounter with a dominatrix:

"Said she wanted to take me home to make love / Now that's the kind of rap that brothers dream of / I said, "Fast, slow, hard or soft, baby?" / She said, "All the above!"

"Black and Decker" starts off with Rhyme Syndicate members complaining about the media's portrayal of their work as meaningless violence. Ice wonders aloud what it would sound like if you drilled into someone's head with a powerdrill. After some gory sound effects, Ice says "Probably sound like that." "Hit the Deck" offers sincere advice to wannabe-MCs:

"But if it's in your heart, get a pen / Don't stop writing til the inkflow ends / Work and work and don't halfstep / Dog the mic every chance you get."

"This One's for Me," offers Ice's take on the rap scene and music industry. "The Hunted Child" is a first-person account of a scared young gang-banger on the run. The busy, multi-layered composition, with its scratched sirens and stactto drums, samples Public Enemy's "Bring the Noise".

"What Ya Wanna Do" is a 9-minute party song featuring several members of the Syndicate, including a young Everlast, who became famous as a member of House of Pain. "Freedom of Speech" was one of the first raps to focus on the First Amendment and in particular attacked Tipper Gore's PMRC with unmistakable venom:

"Hey PMRC, you stupid fuckin' assholes / The sticker on the record is what makes 'em sell gold / Can't you see, you alcoholic idiots / The more you try to suppress us, the larger we get."

The album ends with in "My Word is Bond", featuring Syndicate members telling one exaggerated story after another against a looped sample of Slick Rick saying "Stop lying" from his song "La Di Da Di".

Track listing

# Title Time Programmer(s) Performer(s) Samples
1 "Shut Up, Be Happy" 2:36 Afrika Islam

2 "The Iceberg" 4:22 Johnny (Sleepy John) Rivers Ice-T "Do You Like It" by B. T. Express
3 "Lethal Weapon" 4:34 Afrika Islam Ice-T "Razor Blade" by Little Royal & the Swingmasters
4 "You Played Yourself" 4:15 Afrika Islam Ice-T "The Boss" by James Brown
5 "Peel Their Caps Back" 3:42 Afrika Islam Ice-T
6 "The Girl Tried To Kill Me" 4:08 Afrika Islam Ice-T
7 "Black 'N' Decker" 1:17 Afrika Islam Ice-T
8 "Hit The Deck" 3:46 Afrika Islam Ice-T Coonskin
9 "This One's For Me" 4:33 Afrika Islam Ice-T "Slaughter's Theme" by James Brown
10 "The Hunted Child" 4:27 Afrika Islam Ice-T "Bring the Noise" by Public Enemy
11 "What Ya Wanna Do?" 8:58 Afrika Islam Ice-T
Rhyme Syndicate
12 "Freedom Of Speech" 4:11 Afrika Islam Ice-T

  • "Tales from the Trial (Pt 3)" by Jello Biafra
  • "Can I Get Some Help" by James Brown

13 "My Word Is Bond" 5:07 Afrika Islam Ice-T "La Di Da Di" by Slick Rick


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