Pummeling Politics

Report: Why Is Body Count’s “Cop Killer” Still Officially Unavailable Nearly 30 Years After Its Release?

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When Body Count released their self-titled debut in 1992, it opened with an intro called “Smoked Pork,” in which frontman Ice-T shoots a LAPD officer, and concluded with a proper song, “Cop Killer,” about — naturally — killing cops. “Cop Killer” became such a source of controversy that it even drew criticism from such prominent political figures as  President George H. W. Bush, Vice President Dan Quayle, and Al Gore’s wife Tipper Gore, co-founder of Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC). Although the drama surrounding the song boosted album sales, it also reportedly exhausted Ice-T, who eventually told the band’s then-label, Warner Bros., to remove it from future pressings. It was replaced with a thrash cover of Ice-T’s solo song, “Freedom of Speech.”

(It also inspired at least one attempt to copycat the controversy — the rapper Paris’ “Bush Killa” — although that one never really took off.)

28-years-later, however, with the Black Lives Matter movement moving full-steam-ahead and protest music back on the charts as a result, there is still no official way for fans to experience “Cop Killer”: it’s not on streaming services, and it’s not on current CD pressings of the album. Fans can hear if they track down and purchase older editions of the album, or via YouTube, but that’s it. This despite the fact that the band still plays it live — in fact, according to setlist.fm, it’s Body Count’s most-performed live song.

So why is the song still absent from streaming services? Billboard recently investigated, and came up with… well… not much:

“It should be there. It absolutely should be there,” says Ernie Cunnigan, also known as Ernie C, longtime guitarist for the band fronted by rapper and actor Ice-T. “Some of these kids that are out there [protesting], they’re 30, 31 — they were newborns when this was going on. What we talked about 30 years ago, we’re still talking about.”

The report goes on to note that Ice-T owns the masters for Body Count, but can’t or won’t explain the decision to keep under lock and key:

“Neither [Ice-T] nor [his manager, Jorge] Hinojosa would comment for this story, but [Geoffrey] Weiss, the former Warner Bros. product manager who is now an artist manager, speculates Ice didn’t need the ‘Cop Killer’ image anymore. The rapper was just starting his mainstream acting career around the time he pulled the track from the album, first in movies like ‘Trespass,’ then on a 20-year run as, ironically, a cop: Det. Fin Tutuola on ‘Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.’ ‘I can really imagine Ice-T doesn’t want to think about 1992 that much,’ Weiss says.”

You can read Billboard‘s entire story here.

[via Metal Injection]

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