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The Iceberg/Freedom of Speech... Just Watch What You Say!

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The Iceberg/Freedom of Speech... Just Watch What You Say! is the third studio album by American rapper Ice-T, released on October 10, 1989 by Sire Records. The album has an uncharacteristically gritty sound, featuring some of the darkest tracks that Ice-T ever released.

The Iceberg/Freedom of Speech... Just Watch What You Say!
Studio album by
ReleasedOctober 10, 1989
GenreHip-hop, gangsta rap
Ice-T chronology
The Iceberg/Freedom of Speech... Just Watch What You Say!
O.G. Original Gangster
Singles from The Iceberg/Freedom of Speech...Just Watch What You Say
  1. "Lethal Weapon"
    Released: 1989
  2. "What Ya Wanna Do"
    Released: 1989
  3. "You Played Yourself"
    Released: April 5, 1990
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic5/5 stars[1]
Chicago Tribune3/4 stars[2]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide4/5 stars[3]
The Village VoiceA−[4]



The album was released after Ice-T was encountering censorship problems on tour. In The Ice Opinion: Who Gives a Fuck? the rapper states that "People had already told me what I could not say onstage in Columbus, Georgia. You couldn't say anything they called a 'swear' word. You couldn't touch yourself. They were using the same tactics they used on everyone from Elvis and Jim Morrison to 2 Live Crew".[5]

The album's cover, featuring a B-boy with a shotgun shoved in his mouth, and two pistols pressed against each side of his head, reflected Ice-T's experiences with the concept of freedom of speech. "The concept of that picture is, 'Go ahead and say what you want. But here comes the government and here come the parents, and they are ready to destroy you when you open your mouth'".[5]

Lyrical themesEdit

"The Iceberg" alternates between typical violent metaphor, outlandish boasts, and comical sexual situations involving other members of Ice's Rhyme Syndicate. "Lethal Weapon" tells listeners that the mind is the most powerful weapon:

"You Played Yourself" advises listeners to be smart and not let themselves "be played". "Peel Their Caps Back" is about committing a drive-by to avenge a slain friend. Unlike other songs where violence is a metaphor for the rapper's ability to defeat other rappers lyrically, this song is a stark depiction of what could lead to such an event. However, it contains two surprising elements: in the end, the main character is killed, and the whole event is written off by the media as just another gang killing.

In "The Girl Tried to Kill Me", Ice-T raps about an encounter with a dominatrix:

"Black and Decker" starts off with Rhyme Syndicate members complaining about the media's portrayal of their work as meaningless violence. Ice wonders aloud what it would sound like if you drilled into someone's head with a powerdrill. After some gory sound effects, Ice says "Probably sound like that." "Hit the Deck" offers sincere advice to wannabe-MCs:

"This One's for Me" offers Ice's take on the rap scene and music industry. "The Hunted Child" is a first-person account of a scared young gang-banger on the run. The busy, multi-layered composition, with its scratched sirens and staccato drums, samples Public Enemy's "Bring the Noise".[6]

"What Ya Wanna Do" is a 9-minute party song featuring several members of the Syndicate, including a young Everlast, who became famous as a member of House of Pain. "Freedom of Speech" was one of the first raps to focus on the First Amendment and in particular attacked Tipper Gore's PMRC with unmistakable venom:

The album ends with in "My Word Is Bond", featuring Syndicate members telling one exaggerated story after another against a looped sample of Slick Rick saying "Stop lying" from his song "La Di Da Di".[7]

Track listingEdit

1."Shut Up, Be Happy" (featuring Jello Biafra)2:36
2."The Iceberg"4:21
3."Lethal Weapon"4:33
4."You Played Yourself"4:14
5."Peel Their Caps Back"3:42
6."The Girl Tried to Kill Me"4:10
7."Black 'n' Decker"1:16
8."Hit the Deck"3:46
9."This One's for Me"4:33
10."The Hunted Child"4:27
11."What Ya Wanna Do?" (featuring Bronx Style Bob, Donald D, Everlast, Hen Gee, Nat The Cat, Randy Mac, Shakell Shabazz & Toddy Tee)8:57
12."Freedom of Speech" (featuring Jello Biafra)4:11
13."My Word Is Bond"5:07
Total length:55:42

Sample credits


  • Afrika Islam - producer, programming (tracks 1, 3–13)
  • Arnold Turner - photographer
  • Beat Master V - drums (track 6)
  • Devious Doze - artwork
  • D.J. Evil "E" The Great - scratches
  • Ernie C - guitar (track 6, 11)
  • Ice-T - main artist, executive producer, producer
  • Johnny (Sleepy John) Rivers - programming (track 2)
  • Lloyd Roberts - bass (tracks 8, 11)
  • Mark Wolfson - engineer mix
  • Mary Ann Dibs - design
  • Vachik Aghaniawtz - engineer mix

Charts and CerificationsEdit

Chart (1989) Peak
US Billboard 200[9] 37
US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums (Billboard)[10] 11


Region Certification Certified units/Sales
United States (RIAA)[11] Gold 500,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone


  1. ^ Henderson, Alex. "The Iceberg/Freedom of Speech...Just Watch What You Say – Ice-T". AllMusic. Retrieved July 29, 2015.
  2. ^ Tanzilo, Robert (January 11, 1990). "Ice-T: The Iceberg/Freedom of Speech (Sire LP and Warner/Reprise video)". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved August 11, 2016.
  3. ^ Relic, Peter (2004). "Ice-T". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. p. 401. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  4. ^ Christgau, Robert (December 26, 1989). "Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved August 11, 2016.
  5. ^ a b Ice-T; Sigmund, Heidi (1994). The Ice Opinion: Who Gives a Fuck?. Pan Books. p. 165. ISBN 0-330-33629-0.
  6. ^ a b Ice-T (1989). "The Hunted Child". The Iceberg/Freedom Of Speech... Just Watch What You Say!. Sire/Warner Bros. Records. UPC 075992602822
  7. ^ a b Ice-T (1989). "My Word Is Bond". The Iceberg/Freedom Of Speech... Just Watch What You Say!. Sire/Warner Bros. Records. UPC 075992602822
  8. ^ Ice-T (1989). "Hit The Deck". The Iceberg/Freedom Of Speech... Just Watch What You Say!. Sire/Warner Bros. Records. UPC 075992602822
  9. ^ "Ice-T Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved October 23, 2014.
  10. ^ "Ice-T Chart History (Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved October 23, 2014.
  11. ^ "American album certifications – Ice-T – The Iceberg/Freedom Of Speech...Watch What You Say". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH.