This is who we have to thank.
Next time you hear the names Limp Bizkit, KoRn, or P.O.D. and think "good God this is awful," then you can think "thanks, Body Count, for starting this awful trend."
Granted, I'm sure they did not have the foresight to know an entire awful genre of music would spawn from what they laid down, but blame is theirs regardless. In 1992, Ice-T, bored with the word of gangsta rap, decided to start a rap-metal band. Body Count was that band, and I'm sure everyone is aware of the turmoil caused by their controversial track "Cop Killer." 14 years later -- Murder 4 Hire is released.
If it's any sort of consolation (probably not) it's better than anything most rap-rock/rap-metal bands recorded during the heydey of that turgid genre. What sets this apart is that the band behind Ice-T actually has a good amount of talent. Behind the rap veneer is a band hungry with intensity and a penchant for blistering riffs and cascading drum fills. "The Passion of the Christ" ends with a minute of just straight guitar and drum intensity. Lead Axeman Ernie C lays down some truly quick and impressive riffs before slowing down at the end and doing his best Jimi Hendrix impression.
For the most part, though, the talented members of the band take a backseat to Ice-T's rantings. Now, I like Ice-T as a rapper. Quite a bit actually, but his personal style is one that simply does not meld well with any sort of heavy music. He seems unsure of himself at times, as "Down in the Bayou" has him take on almost a southern twang, in direct contrast to the dangerous Compton sound he's most well-known for. Points for the attempted diversity, but there's something to be said for knowing your own strengths and expounding on them. And nowhere on this record does Ice-T sound dangerous -- complacent, if anything. Shouting over some heavy riffs does not make the point get across any better, and this is something that the whole band needs to realize before they can actually move forward. They flirt with bits and pieces of good songs, but fail to deliver on one entire effort.
14 years ago, they were far, far ahead of their time. Only Anthrax had come close to the realm that Body Count was bringing to the mainstream, and their controversial lyrics stirred up some serious public attention. In this day and age however, they really needed to go that extra mile rather than settle into a false sense of security. And that's exactly what happened.