POSTED: Saturday, June 16, 2012 - 7:00pm
UPDATED: Saturday, June 16, 2012 - 7:04pm
NATIONAL NEWS (CNN) — If anyone knows hip-hop, it's Ice-T.
The rapper-turned-actor has added a title to his résumé: filmmaker. Ice (born Tracy Marrow) recently sat down with CNN to answer some iReporter questions and discuss his new documentary, "Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap."
The film explores the genre as art form and includes lots of big names in the music industry, including Kanye West, Nas, Eminem and Dr. Dre. When it came time to find voices for his project, Ice didn't have to look far.
"I did the film by calling only my friends I had in my address book," the rapper said. "All my homies I'd been in the business with over 20 years. (I told them,) 'I'm just going to ask you questions, not about the money, the cars, the jewelry, the beef, but the craft.' "
In an earlier interview, the star of "Law & Order: SVU" noted that there was an abundance of rap stars who wanted to appear in his documentary.
"There's lots of people I would love to have interviewed, but you got to remember the movie only could last two hours," he explained. "At the end of my filming, I had 52 rappers shot. I had 35 rappers waiting to be shot. My first edit was four hours, so I just couldn't fit everybody into the movie, so yeah, there's a lot of people missing, but I think I was able to get a good cross-section of the different styles of hip-hop."
His decades in the rap game allowed him insider access and candid interviews.
"I was kind of surprised at how open the guys got and just had fun in front of the camera," Ice said. "By me doing the interviews, it turned into more of a conversation than an interview, and you get to see us laugh, and you get some never-before-heard insight on some of the rapper's lives."
When it came time to answer iReport questions, Ice was more than ready to take on inquires on everything from his love of video gaming to his thoughts on the military. Not many know that he served in the United States Army before entering the hip-hop game.
"Nothing but respect to the soldiers coming home from the war," he said. "As far as something I can tell them to do, this might sound cold, but don't expect anybody to care. Don't expect that because you're a GI, you're going to come home and somebody's going to open up their hands up to you. You just gonna have to bust your a** from the ground up, unfortunately."
These days, he is as known for his E! reality show "Ice Loves Coco," about the exploits of him and his model wife. He said he doesn't mind people admiring his wife's ... assets.
"I don't have a problem with people admiring Coco, and I have a tight relationship," he said. "When we first got together, she was already a swimsuit model, and you can't say, 'Now we're married, you can't do that anymore.' "
So is the man once feared for his influence with songs like "Cop Killer" now a homebody who has mellowed so much that he's cool with being better known for playing a police officer on television than one of the founders of gangsta rap?
"Even when I made 'Cop Killer,' I (wasn't) a cop killer," he said. "I was just acting out a character of somebody who lost it and went after brutal cops."