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Ice-T: From South Central to Prime Time

The rap pioneer talks about his new bio, which retraces his unconventional rise

Q: Ice: A Memoir of Gangster Life and Redemption describes your early years on the streets, your decision to stop hustling, and your marriage to your wife, Coco.

A: The hustle was all game — but when you work in music, or when you get married, you can't manipulate people that way anymore. On the street there's a saying: "Show and prove." It means don't just say it — show it and prove it. For the past 10 years, Coco has shown and proved that she loves me.

Speaking of Books (Ice-T)

Photo by Steve Vaccariello/Contour by Getty Images

Ice-T is in his 11th season on Law&Order: SVU.

Q: At 53, has your outlook changed?

A: I'm way more mellow than I was as a young man full of rage. I feel like I don't have to prove myself as much. Once you've experienced as much as I have — crazy and dangerous things, sure, but adventurous and productive things, too — you outgrow that urgency you feel when life is filled with unknowns. It's not that there's less movement in your life as you get older — it's just more focused movement.

Q: As executive producer of your A&E show The Peacemaker, you strive to help young men escape gangs.

A: Sometimes your friends die of cancer, but I've seen more of my friends die on the streets or in prison — so I think that's the right place to focus my efforts. The crucial thing is to find the most efficient way you can help: Is it a song? A show? Maybe it's this book and my story. You have to maximize your power.

Q: Your memoir includes 50 rules to live by. Rule 31 is "I've been your age, you've never been mine — pay attention." Was that for your children?

A: I can't be around my kids as much as I would like to be, so I tend to spoil them when I'm there. I'm not going to say I have the greatest parenting style — I'm more the person who just tries to leave my kids with some wisdom. My kids are smart, but if they refused to listen to me at all, we'd have a problem.