Hip-hop legend and television icon Ice-T, spoke to an audience last Friday at Sonoma State University’s Green Music Center about his journey from struggles with gangs, to his successes in film.
His lecture “Overcoming the Impossible” was a raw talk in which he held nothing back and gave advice on what it takes to reach for your dreams.
“We are going to talk about how I made it to your college and not the penitentiary,” said Ice-T.
Born Tracy Lauren Marrow, Ice-T began his life with loss, after both his parents passed away before the seventh-grade. He eventually made his way to live with an aunt, who provided a paradox of being a caring social-worker by day and an alcoholic by night. This figure seemed to emulate just what the entertainment icon of Ice-T embodies; a man who has always intended to do his best and what is right, but also manages to be involved in some trouble.
After impregnating his girlfriend shortly after high school, he proceeded to join the U.S Army for economic reasons. It wasn’t too long after his four-year tour that he got himself entangled with the wrong crowd, stealing radios and getting involved in criminal activity.
Ice-T pondered through his life story, revealing that “gang rhymes” were the initial start to what has influenced other artists such as Public Enemy, N.W.A and Tupac. His 1991 album “O.G: Original Gangster” was the introduction of his heavy metal band, Body Count, a band that he co-founded.
Many celebrities have a facade and seem to play a role in front of the public eye, but not Ice-T. Filled with charisma and continuous humor, he politely let the audience know that if people easily got offended, to look for the green exit signs and leave.
“I enjoyed the show because of the realness of it. He didn’t censor himself,” said student Katrina Miles.
“I was intrigued with the lecture and how Ice-T opened up about his beginnings,” said student David Ward.
Towards the end of his talk and many personal stories later, an earnest Ice-T wanted to give his audience five keys to success. He said to only take advice from people you admire, have the courage to push past your insecurity and reach your potential, don’t attempt to do what everyone is doing, remain true to yourself and strive for the best results, and maintain a good work ethic and always remain driven and never stop your hustle.
Being offered roles in movies such as his film debut “Breakin” in 1984, “Tank Girl” and “New Jack City,” he initially wasn’t being compensated what he expected. But that didn’t prevent him from continuing to accept and pursue other ventures.
“When you get an opportunity, you take it,” said Ice-T.
The hunger to reach goals in life will always present themselves and you’re responsible for making this option a reality.
Years later, he was offered a part in “Law in Order: Special Victims Unit” by Dick Wolf, who originally wanted him for only four episodes. Wolf saw the magnitude of how Ice-T played his detective role of Odafin Tutuola and decided to extend his stay on the show. At first, Ice-T had his doubts about playing the role of a police officer, considering his own criminal past. However, he chose to seize the opportunity that was presented to him and encouraged the audience to do the same when facing their own challenges.
“What you are trying to do, people are going to think you are crazy, so you are on your own,” said Ice-T.