top of page
  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

Colors

 

Ice-T

 

I don’t know how many people appreciate how influential Ice-T has been regarding hip hop history. I remember first becoming aware of him in relation to the 1984 film Breakin’, as he rapped during a breakdancing scene.

 

Although Ice-T is significantly older than me, he and I share a number of background similarities. We’re both biracial, moved to different states in childhood, were aligned with a similar gang (though were never affiliated), once DJ’ed, and we both joined the military.

 

I recall being in a children’s home and sneaking around listening to the rapper’s 1988 album Power with my buddy “Odessa.” We’d take turns rapping lines and pretending we were performing for a crowd, until a houseparent caught us and confiscated the unauthorized contraband tape.

 

Had the houseparent taken a moment to actually listen to the track “I’m Your Pusher,” he likely would’ve understood that Ice-T was expressing positivity versus glamorizing drug use. Oh well. Shout out to Darlene “The Syndicate Queen” Ortiz from the “I’m Your Pusher” video!

 

I also remember how pivotal Ice-T’s track “Colors” was to me. The song was featured on the soundtrack of the 1988 film Colors, a movie highlighting the gangs of Los Angeles, California.

 

The song and film were impactful to be, because friends I maintained in Aurora, Colorado and Amarillo, Texas were gang-affiliated, and “Colors” accurately illustrated their expressed mentality. Even in early adulthood, I paid homage to the track through graffiti artwork.

 

 

Colors

 

My young and impressionable mind didn’t contemplate the lyrics of “Colors” in the same manner as I do currently. In particular, I examine the lyrical content through the lens of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) and see things quite differently than I did as a child.

 

Although the entire song is worth evaluating, I’ll stick with the fourth verse herein:

 

I’ll just walk like a giant, police defiant

You’ll say to stop but I’ll say that I can’t

My gang’s my family, it’s all that I have

I’m a star on the walls, is my autograph

You don’t like it, so, you know where you can go

‘Cause the streets are my stage and terror’s my show

It wasn’t your brother that brutally died

But it was mine, so let me define

My territory; don’t cross the line

Don’t try to act crazy, ‘cause that shit don’t faze me

If you ran like a punk, it wouldn’t amaze me

‘Cause my color’s death

Though we all want peace

But our war won’t end

‘Till all wars cease

 

In my youth, it was as though there was some cosmic rule which required gang stacking (displaying gang signs) when “Colors” played. As Ice-T suggests, I saw myself as a “police defiant” youth and threw up gang signs to communicate my defiance.

 

The rapper states of gang-related activity, “You’ll say to stop but I’ll say that I can’t.” Back when I predominately hung out with gang members, the song “Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop” from the Bloods & Crips 1994 album Bangin’ on Wax 2... The Saga Continues conveyed similar sentiment.

 

The once popular phrase “can’t stop, won’t stop” represented the perception that one is unable to discontinue gang activity and even if one were able to, the individual is willfully committed to the cause. From an REBT perspective, I recognize this belief as a form of demandingness.

 

The phrase, and Ice-T’s use of it, suggests, “I must be loyal to the gang.” Giving an explanation for why the rapper believes this, Ice-T offered, “My gang’s my family, it’s all that I have.”

 

If I were seeing a client for behavioral health services and this justification were used, I’d assist with disputing the irrational belief which uses a dichotomous option. Is it true that the character depicted in the song has only an either-or option?

 

Let’s say I grant the premise that a person has no choice whatsoever than to join a gang. Must this person be one of the most violent members of the collective—bragging that the “streets are my stage and terror’s my show”?

 

Look, I can appreciate that Ice-T preemptively addressed those of us who may use behavioral health techniques in relation to his content (“Psychoanalyze tried diagnosin’ me, why?”). Nevertheless, I maintain that it’s important to interrogate self-disturbing beliefs.

 

Ice-T’s character in “Colors” uses the death of his brother as an excuse for poor behavior. Instead of this victimhood narrative, I’d encourage a similar client to understand how the ABC Model of REBT functions.

 

If the death of a sibling (Activating event) led to the result of one concluding, “My color’s death”—signifying murderous rage (Consequence), how would one explain that not everyone who loses a family member to violence winds up killing in retaliation?

 

I suggest that the Action-Consequence (A-C) connection isn’t necessarily how life works on an intrapersonal level. Rather, Ice-T’s character in “Colors” Believes something about the Activating event, and this unhelpful assumption causes an unproductive Consequence.

 

This is the Belief-Consequence (B-C) connection that can result in vengeance. When I used to work with inmates within local jails, the B-C connection accounted for virtually all reasons regarding the incarcerated status of my caseload.

 

People don’t have to become victims of their circumstances. We are capable of change. This behavioral adjustment begins with altering our unhelpful beliefs.

 

Ice-T ends his verse by stating, “Though we all want peace, but our war won’t end ‘till all wars cease.” This sentiment removes one’s personal ownership of behavior and instead distributes responsibility and accountability across all nations.

 

In my youth, I used to think in A-C consequence terms like this. I reasoned, “I wouldn’t have to hang out with gang members if it weren’t for the fact that some people want to hurt me, so I need to associate with gangsters who will protect me.”

 

In essence, I was saying that because there was a potential for violence, my condonation of violent behavior was justified. Therefore, no street-based violence would end until all global violence first ceased.

 

Life doesn’t function in this manner. I seriously doubt that any nation state even knew of my existence when I lived in Aurora or Amarillo in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Consequently, using regional conflicts to justify my poor behavior wasn’t rational. Likewise, it doesn’t make sense for Ice-T’s character in “Colors.”

 

Conclusion

 

Given his well-documented history, Ice-T is a hip hop legend. Herein, I chose to examine a verse from the rapper’s song “Colors.”

 

Using the behavioral health approach of REBT, I hope to have effectively demonstrated how self-disturbance can stem from one’s victimhood narrative, a B-C connection, and by shifting personal responsibility and accountability to others.

 

I was once like the character depicted in “Colors” and I’ve worked with clients who’ve experienced similar backgrounds. Since understanding that my unhelpful beliefs were what drove my unhealthy behavior, I’ve made necessary changes in how I approach life.

 

Now, I offer these techniques to others in my personal and professional life. If you’d like to change your outcomes, rather than lying to yourself using irrational beliefs, I may be able to help you, too.

 

If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.

 

As the world’s foremost old school hip hop REBT psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.

 

At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!

 

 

Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW

 

References:

 

Eustice, K. (2016, February 16). First vixen of hip hop Darlene Ortiz opens up about life after Ice T in new book, ‘Definition of Down.’ The Source. Retrieved from https://thesource.com/2016/02/16/first-vixen-of-hip-hop-darlene-ortiz-opens-up-about-life-after-ice-t-in-new-book-definition-of-down/

Hollings, D. (n.d.). Blog – Categories: Disputation. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/blog/categories/disputation

Hollings, D. (2022, October 31). Demandingness. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/demandingness

Hollings, D. (2022, March 15). Disclaimer. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/disclaimer

Hollings, D. (2023, October 12). Get better. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/get-better

Hollings, D. (n.d.). Hollings Therapy, LLC [Official website]. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/

Hollings, D. (2023, May 18). Irrational beliefs. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/irrational-beliefs

Hollings, D. (2023, September 19). Life coaching. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/life-coaching

Hollings, D. (2022, November 7). Personal ownership. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/personal-ownership

Hollings, D. (2024, January 13). Prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/prevention-diagnosis-and-treatment

Hollings, D. (2022, March 25). Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT). Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/rational-emotive-behavior-therapy-rebt

Hollings, D. (2022, November 1). Self-disturbance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/self-disturbance

Hollings, D. (2022, October 7). Should, must, and ought. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/should-must-and-ought

Hollings, D. (2022, November 9). The ABC model. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/the-abc-model

Hollings, D. (2022, December 23). The A-C connection. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/the-a-c-connection

Hollings, D. (2022, December 25). The B-C connection. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/the-b-c-connection

Hollings, D. (2022, November 14). Touching a false dichotomy. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/touching-a-false-dichotomy

Hollings, D. (2022, November 25). Victimhood. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/victimhood

Hollings, D. (2022, August 8). Was Freud right? Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/was-freud-right

Kech0619. (2010, November 21). Bloods & Crips - Cant Stop Wont Stop [Video]. YouTube. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/OiMB7MxxW7c?si=gwRXII7oG2rwVomM

Marrow, T and Century, D. (2011). Ice: A memoir of gangster life and redemption—from South Central to Hollywood. Oneworld Publications / Ballantine Books. Retrieved from https://archive.org/details/icememoirofgangs00icet

Movieclips. (2015, May 14). Breakin/ (8/11) movie clip - Ice-T raps (1984) HD [Video]. YouTube. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/ZgIp4Y5NoZk?si=7M5Jf32oQxEcLxvQ

Toonz FM-Tee_tow. (2017, September 27). Ice-T ‎– Colors (Official video) uncensored 1080 HD [Video]. YouTube. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/rYbrhAk_IQs?si=OVCsmcQM4Tte5DsT

Uproxx Video. (2020, July 3). Ice-T ‎- I’m Your Pusher (Official video) [Explicit] [Video]. YouTube. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/2h5JO2sJ3kw?si=SvZlv4QGMNeItjpO

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Bangin’ on Wax 2... The Saga Continues. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bangin%27_on_Wax_2..._The_Saga_Continues

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Bloods & Crips. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloods_%26_Crips

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Breakin’. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breakin%27

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Colors (film). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colors_(film)

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Gang sign. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gang_sign

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Ice-T. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice-T

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Power (Ice-T album). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_(Ice-T_album)

0 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comentarios


bottom of page