December 25, 1992 at 05:00 AM EST

Dan Quayle denounced it as ”a record that is suggesting it’s all right to kill cops”; Ice-T, the rapper who sang the song in question, ”Cop Killer,” with his hardcore rock band, Body Count, said he was just acting out the fantasy of a psychopath. In the end, Ice-T voluntarily took the song off Body Count’s eponymous album, and police organizations that had protested backed off.

Ice-T wasn’t alone; from Sister Souljah to Tupac Shakur to Paris (”Bush Killa”), rappers took the heat this year by taking on the heat itself. As the | uproar mounted, a few major record labels asked a number of artists to delete tracks with violent anti-police lyrics from their albums. ”Cop Killer” may be gone, but the questions it raised remain unresolved: Why should songs — and not cop-killing film fantasies like The Terminator — be taken literally? And how far should record companies go in supporting rappers’ freedom of enraged expression? Ice-T’s response: ”Wait until the people who didn’t like Body Count hear my new album.”

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