The only reason I'm influential is that I say what's on my mind.... Think about it. I make [movies]. You couldn't possibly be worrying about a film career and sit up and be saying the stuff I say on radio. You'd be like: Oh wow, what if they don't put me on the next movie... I don't care. I don't care about these records, these movies. I don't care. I've have to live my life from point A to point B and saying what's on my mind. That's what I care about: being in tune with myself, and people respect that. That's why I'm on a college lecture tour. I'm on my way to Harvard or some place, to teach people how to be real. Isn't that stupid?
Ice-T in that quote, provides one of the best definitions of hip-hop I've heard. Overall, this is a great interview for anyone who wants to break through all the media circus that has ever surrounded Ice-T and get a sense of what the man is really about. In fact, for anyone who really wants to get a sense of Hip-Hop's essence, whether you're down like Foxy Brown, or one of the many who has no earthly idea how a genre as horrible as Rap has flourished for three decades, you need to check out Fresh Air's Hip-Hop week . (Click the "Listen" then "Next Story" links until you've heard Monday through Friday. One hour each, all trimmed to the choicest segments). I do wish she'd had more on grafitti, break-dancing and even beat-boxing, which are among the core elements of Hip-Hop culture, but MCing and DJing are well covered.
I like the bit at the end about Ice-T taking it to college campuses to teach some realness. From what I gather, US Academia needs a heavy dose of realness. There are attacks on academic freedom coming from all directions, with sanctions and threats taking the place of debate. Whether they're fundamentalist Christian/Muslim/Jewish, atheist, gay, straight, white supremacist, black revolutionary, Communist, Neocon, Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, or whatever, it's all about students and faculty choosing to be conventional, surprising, or even shocking in their ideas. Universities only thrive under Hip-Hop's first principles: "speak your clout"; "show and prove". Sad that it takes a sometime controversial rapper to put it down like that.