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Ice-T Defends Nicki Minaj in Summer Jam Debacle, But Says Rap is Going Pop

Ice-T is in full promotion of his documentary, Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap. During it, he recently sat down with TIME Magazine.

During the interview, the hip-hop legend was asked if he thinks rap and pop have to stay separate with the Hot 97 Summer Jam and Nicki Minaj’s single, “Starships” as a pretense.

To that, Ice proceeded to defend Minaj’s walking away as the headliner from the event, but did make his point that rap may be getting a little too pop.

“Rap will always be critical of itself,” Ice-T told TIME. “That’s just part of it. The Nicki Minaj situation, I think that was not a good call. If they don’t want to respect her, I don’t think they should have invited her.”

Of course, he’s referring to the now-infamous situation between New York City radio station, Hot 97, and Young Money’s Nicki Minaj. After Hot 97 personality Peter Rosenberg labeled Nicki’s pop-friendly single, “Starships,” as “bullshit” hours before Summer Jam began on June 3, Lil Wayne decided to yank Minaj as the concert’s headliner, stirring a ton of controversy.

Although, Ice-T didn’t think it was right for Rosenberg to diss Nicki, he does feel rap may be getting a little too pop.

“In the movie, Mos Def quotes Q-Tip: ‘Rap is not pop. If you call it that, then stop,’” Ice continued to tell TIME. “The true origin of rap is counter-culture. The true origin of rap is say something that they’re not saying on the radio. So when you kind of blend into what popular culture is doing, you’re losing the power of hip hop.

“We’ve got to keep rocking the boat,” he said. “We’ve got unemployed people, we’ve got a black President, we’ve got election year, we’ve got Occupy Wall Street. If you’re just going to rap about ‘I got money and we balling,’ and all that, you’re not doing with it what it was meant to do. It’s meant to rock a party, but it was meant to change the world.”

And it’s no surprise that the author of the notorious single, “Cop Killer,” isn’t quite into any rappers’ attempts to reach a pop audience.

“I’ve never really been into pop rap but, hey, if that’s what some of these artists want to do, that’s cool, but then they can’t feel like they’re going to be welcomed in that hard-core club where it’s really just spitters,” he said.

The Art of Rap interview-based documentary features the likes of Snoop Dogg, Eminem and Nas and is scheduled to open in theaters Friday (June 15)—Mark Lelinwalla

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