Ice-T’s new memoir, Split Decision: Life Stories, cowritten with his friend Spike and journalist Douglas Century, details some dark periods in the legendary rapper and producer’s life. Before Ice-T found fame, he and Spike grew up in gang-controlled Los Angeles neighborhoods, where they became partners in (literal) crime. While Ice-T, 64, left the criminal world behind as his music career took off, Spike was arrested for a jewel robbery and propelled down a very different path.
We spoke with the musician about his book, music and reinvention.
You started out as a street hustler, then a hip-hop star. Now you’ve played a cop on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit for 20 years. Does that all feel odd to you?
At first, it did. When I was first a cop in [the 1991 film] New Jack City, I thought that was career suicide. I didn’t really know how people would accept it. But it’s acting. If they cast a street cat as a street cat, that’s not real acting. But if you cast me as a cop, you get a cop with a very interesting dynamic.
Are you going to continue with SVU?
SVU has been picked up for the 24th season. That’s been my day job, which has given me a solid career, where I’m home. I’ve got my kid. I’ve got my wife. It’s not like a record, where you put it out and cross your fingers.
What’s next for your music career?
As far as making music, I’m aware they are never going to play an Ice-T record on the radio. I’m out of the loop. Hip-hop hits between [ages] 15 and 25. That’s the audience. But me and [Big Daddy] Kane and Wu-Tang [Clan] and Nas will be touring forever. I always think of it like Frank Sinatra — people just want to come out and hear our catalog. I just make records because I love it.