Darlene Ortiz is hip-hop royalty. As Ice-T’s muse, she sent shockwaves through popular culture and helped to push the boundaries of rap album art when she appeared bikini clad and holding a shotgun on the cover of Ice’s sophomore effort, Power, in 1998. Ice and Ortiz made up one of hip-hop’s first power couples, and she always stood by his side as he tried to make a name for himself. (She was his trap queen before he got a record deal, if you will.) They first met in 1985 at the now legendary L.A. venue Radiotron, where she caught the attention of Ice-T the house MC. Attempting to pick her up, he told her he wanted to put her on his album cover. He proved to be a man of his word and featured her on the cover of his debut album, Rhyme Pays, two years later.

It wasn’t always easy being madly in love with America’s favorite gangster rapper, which is clear from her recently released Definition of Down, but calling her book a tell-all couldn’t be further from the truth. The book works more like a memoir as Ortiz takes us on a journey through her life without taking unnecessary and petty shots at her former lover. And being that they were together for 17 years and have a 24-year-old son together, she likely had some stories.

She stopped by our New York office to talk about a childhood that was filled by love from her dad and hate from her mom, the infamous Power cover and how her family reacted, and falling in and out of love with a man almost 10 years her senior.