7. Ice-T “6 in The Mornin'” (1986)
Album: Dog 'N The Wax (Ya Don't Quit-Part II) (B-Side)
Label: Techno Hop Records
Producer: The Unknown DJ
Ice-T was pushing 30 when he released “6 N Da Mornin'” in 1986, a veteran of both the rap scene and the gang scene. He cut his teeth rapping at clubs like Radio and Rhythm Lounge when L.A. hip-hop was in its gestation period, but didn't find his true voice until he heard Schoolly D's “PSK,” which showed that a record could be raw story and nothing more.
“6 N Da Morning” has a sharper beat than “PSK” with sharper details. In nine verses, the song takes us through three apartments, two clubs, three shootings, three cars, a chase, a jail term, and a plane ride from L.A. to New York.
The seven-minute epic would be unwieldy if it weren't pinned by a circle of sensory details: the squeak of sneakers on a clean floor; a safe full of cold cash; a shootout that concludes with a getaway and a warm bath. The writing is as hard-boiled as a page of James Cain prose and Unknown DJ's beat is as black-and-white as a LA Times headline.