One Track Mind: Body Count, “Talk Sh*t, Get Shot” from Manslaughter (2014)

If, for some strange reason, you thought Ice-T might bring Body Count back with some deeper reflections for a changing world, the title of the first song released from their forthcoming album Manslaughter will put that idea to rest.

“Talk Shit, Get Shot” is the same kind of so ludicrously over-the-top-that-it’s-funny tough guy bravado that has marked pretty much every Body Count release going back to the band’s self-titled debut and the infamous “Cop Killer.” Lyrically, the song is a ridiculously violent excuse to drop, as many times as possible, the n-word, the mf-word and just about any other word you can think of — and possibly some you haven’t.

There’s really very little, if any, redeeming value to the message whatsoever. And yet, I can’t deny that it’s catchy as, well, take your pick of one of Ice-T’s words. After one listen, I was humming that first little hook over and over in my head, though certainly not singing it out loud — at least not in public.

Don’t look for any more evolution in the music than in the message either. This song would have fit right in on their 1992 debut, even though only two of the members from that lineup remain in Ice-T and guitarist Ernie C. The other three — drummer Beatmaster V, bassist Mooseman and rhythm guitarist D-Roc — are all deceased. Beatmaster V died from leukemia, D-Roc from lymphoma and Mooseman in a shooting.

While Body Count hasn’t changed much over the years, times have since their debut. When the band’s first album arrived in 1992, heavy metal, for the most part, was still a white male-dominated music form. These days it’s a multicultural melting pot, both in regards to the people who perform it and the sounds that have been brought to the table. The melding of metal and rap was also quite rare in those days. You could count examples on one hand. Now, there are subgenres dedicated to the blend. The novelty of a rapper doing metal doesn’t exist anymore, and the upcoming album will rise or fall based on its songs.

Ice-T once said that he chose to write about gang violence for his metal project because he thought it would be scarier than the fantasy topics many metal bands of the time were writing about. Body Count, though, often and still does take that into a realm where the harsh realities of the street become almost humorous in a very black and disturbing sort of way.

“Talk Shit, Get Shot,” leaves me a bit uneasy about endorsing it because of its utter glorification of violence without really any of the social commentary similar songs from Body Count’s early albums had to back the imagery up. It’s, in a way, the worst of what gangsta rap has to offer message-wise. At the same time, I have to admit that it’s a really good Body Count song, and despite myself, I’ve walked around with it in my head for the last couple of days. Perhaps that unease is intentional on the band’s part, perhaps not. But I’m left both apprehensive and interested to see what the rest of the album brings.

Fred Phillips

Fred Phillips is a veteran entertainment writer with a love of hard rock and heavy metal. He has written music reviews, columns and feature stories for several newspapers, Web sites and a national wire service, while running a stand-alone site called Hall of the Mountain King in various places and incarnations since 1997. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.

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