Body Count – There Goes The Neighborhood



Body Count is an American thrash metal band formed in Los Angeles, California, in 1990. The band is known for their controversial lyrics and helping to break the stereotype that “the word rock means white and the word rap means black”.

The band is fronted by Ice-T, who co-founded the group with high school friend Ernie C. out of their mutual interest in heavy metal music. More high school friends, Beatmaster V, Mooseman & D-Rock were added to complete the lineup. Ice’s love of rock began in the mid-70s while he was living with his aunt after being orphaned. There, he was exposed to bands like Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple.

After Ice-T included the song “Body Count” on his 1991 album Original Gangster, the band was invited to perform on the first annual Lollapalooza tour. Their self-titled debut album followed in early 1992 and immediately caused controversy, addressing topics like killing a racist mother, having anal sex with a Klansman’s daughter, and getting revenge for police brutality by killing them back. In fact, “Cop Killer” became so hated that police forces petitioned to have the album banned and President Bush and VP Dan Quayle also spoke out against the song. Months later, the album climbed to a #26 peak in the US and was certified Gold.

Ultimately, Ice and Ernie felt the controversy of “Cop Killer” began to outweigh the music and put unnecessary pressure on Warner Music (including death threats being made at the executives), so he chose to replace the track with a reworked version of his solo song “Freedom Of Speech”. Touring also proved controversial with the band almost starting a riot in Milan, Italy, after Ice punched a concertgoer for spitting on Ernie C.

Body Count’s second album Born Dead debuted at #74 in the US but, aside from scoring two minor hits in the UK and Switzerland, did not generate the same level of success (or notoriety) of their debut. A year after the death of drummer Beatmaster V in 1996, the band released Violent Demise. It did not chart, but did put the band briefly back in the controversy spotlight due to its graphic songs about OJ Simpson’s recent murder charge acquittal and the physician-assisted suicide proponent Dr Kevorkian.

Over the next nine years, founding members Mooseman and D-Roc would also pass away before the release of the band’s fourth album Murder 4 Hire in 2006. Later, Ice-T would admit he “kinda mailed it in”, simply writing lyrics over already written songs and not getting involved in the album beyond that. It would take almost eight more years until the band’s fifth album Manslaughter materialized and put the band back on the US album chart at #102.

Bloodlust, featuring guest appearances by Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine, Soulfly’s Max Cavalera and Lamb Of God’s Randy Blythe, arrived three years later and peaked at #157 in the US, also finding scattered chart success in several countries overseas. The album was also praised as one of the best metal albums of the year by Rolling StoneLoudwire and AXS. “Black Hoodie” was nominated for Grammy the following year. Their seventh album Carnivore peaked in the top 30 in five countries, including the US, in 2020. Its single “Bum Rush” won a Grammy in 2021.