90. Body Count, 'Body Count' (1992)
The triumph of Ice-T's metal group Body Count was one-upping the mediated and vicarious experience of Eighties thrash, a genre built on the novels of Lovecraft and King, the atrocities of history and the dispatches of TV news. Instead, Body Count presented street-level reportage, showing life in contemporary South Central Los Angeles as a house of horrors: nights erupting with the sound of gang warfare ("Body Count"), a prison system devouring black males ("Bowels of the Devil"), friends ravaged by crack cocaine ("The Winner Loses") – not to mention venom directed at the "stupid, dumb, dick-sucking, bum politicians" blind to it all. Plus, guitarist Ernie C.'s Iommi-esque riff to "There Goes the Neighborhood" is one of the best of the Nineties – instantly classic enough to be chanted by Beavis and Butt-Head. Most notoriously, "Cop Killer" – "dedicated to some personal friends of mine, the LAPD" – appeared in the wake of the Rodney King video, turning the very real threat of police brutality into a bloody revenge fantasy. The record was decried by the likes of President George Bush, Vice President Dan Quayle, New York governor Mario Cuomo and 60 members of Congress in a letter to Warner Bros. "It's a protest song," said Ice. "I told a group of reporters, 'I'm singing in the first person as a character who is fed up with police brutality. … If you believe I'm a cop killer, you believe David Bowie is an astronaut.'" C.R.W.