I can’t think of any album released this year that caught me off guard as violently as Body Count’s Bloodlust. I honestly did not expect all that much out of the sixth LP from Ice-T’s 27-year-old metal/hardcore side project, and I say that as someone who wrote very enthusiastically about the band’s truly inspired 2014 cover of Suicidal Tendencies’ ’80s classic “Institutionalized.” But man, I fucking love Bloodlust. It’s an album that wrestles with issues of social inequity and systemic racism, but it manages to express all this complicated ambivalence and anger via searing songs that engage on an animalistic level. Its first single, “No Lives Matter,” is as essential as any piece of music you’ll hear in 2017 — a call to action for disenfranchised, marginalized, and destitute Americans of every ethnic background. Its second single, “Black Hoodie,” addresses police brutality in Black communities with a fury worthy of Kendrick Lamar.
The album’s third single, “The Ski Mask Way,” arrives with an animated video courtesy of Tommy Ruffin. It looks like a video game, which is sort of an ironic twist on the material, considering the ultraviolent reality in which the song’s protagonist resides. It’s a song about robbery and home invasions (and the occasional ensuing bloodshed) as a livelihood. As Ice barks in the first verse: “I’m doin’ my job/ This is just what I do.” It’s full of chilling details: for instance, the narrator targeting his victims based on how they flex on Instagram. It’s also just a total goddamn blast to listen to: When Ice’s vocals double-up on the line “You look like food to me,” my heart rate rockets. I start STOMPING when he hits that line. I’ve listened to this song so many times in the past few months and it still kicks my ass. It’s admittedly not as overtly political as “No Lives Matter” or “Black Hoodie,” but sandwiched in-between those two songs (as it is in Bloodlust’s tracklist), it feels like a similarly meaningful statement, even a related one: What the fuck do you think is gonna happen in hopelessly poor communities where extreme punishment will be meted out whether or not “suspicious activity” is in fact criminal activity? Watch.
Bloodlust is out now via Century Media.