Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Metal connoisseurs may find Body Count, the band Ice-T has led out of South Central L.A. and onto a self-titled Sire/Warner Bros. debut, a little simplistic. This is flat-out hard rock, short on soloistic intricacy and fancy structures; it doesn't even flash the high-funk drumbeats so modish among hair gods these days. But anybody who thinks raw power is what metal is for will get off on its loud rush, and as with the dead-simple Motorhead, Body Count's front man sets them apart.

Ice-T doesn't think metal's outrageousness should end with doomsday rhetoric and backstage blow jobs. Not that he's averse to backstage blow jobs from a KKK Bitch he teaches the proper use of white sheets. He also describes racism in language metalheads can understand, kills several policemen, and cuts his mama into little pieces because she tells him to hate white people. This can be a very funny record. Ice-T really wants to know whether Tipper Gore, whose 12-year-old nieces he sexes up along the way, gets the joke.

Working their own rap-guitar interface are onetime speedrock trio the Beastie Boys, who actually play most of the music on their third album. Even so, Check Your Head (Capitol) sounds more like the multisampled Paul's Boutique than the party-hearty Licensed To Ill--big noise or no big noise, it's avant-garde rather than arena. Very funny, sure--but subtler than Body Count for better and worse.

Fast Cuts: Giant Sand: Ramp (Amazing Black Sand): Neil Young moves to a commune in the desert with his fountain of youth. Mzwakhe Mbuli: Resistance Is Defence (Earthworks): South Africa's people's poet deploys township jive versus apartheid.

Playboy, Mar. 1992

Feb. 1992 Apr. 1992