According to my calculations -- give or take -- Ice-T says "nigger" 885 times on his latest EP, The 7th Deadly Sin.

Ho hum.

Ice-T used to be an innovator. He created gangster rap. He opened a lot of eyes -- especially cracker eyes like mine -- to the fact that when a black man says "nigger," there's a good reason: He has taken the power of the word away from his oppressors. It's like when Richard Pryor released That Nigger's Crazy, and everyone said, "Huh? Can he say that?" And the answer was yes, damn right he can. Richard Pryor helped reclaim the word from rednecks for comedy; Ice did it for music.

But that was then. Today, "nigger" is sung so often in rap it has become a conjunction, or a pause, or an easy way to add an extra syllable to match the words with music. "Nigger" has become the word between the words that matter. That was the first blow to rap. The second was white skate rats, corporate rock yo-yos, and housewives feeling comfortable saying the N-word.

What happened was that the Man got a hold of the lingo, and now rap is dead. If you care to see the body, it rests in peace in the jewel case of The 7th Deadly Sin.

Ice has stopped evolving, and when that happens you're dead. He's spouting the same boring noise and has become a caricature of himself.

There is hardly anybody in contemporary rap who compares to what Boogie Down Productions and Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy were doing. Don't even talk about Gil fucking Scott-Heron -- who wrote the soundtrack to the revolution and was the precursor to what rap was supposed to be -- an intelligent, emotional documentation of the black crisis. Today's rappers aren't even on the same planet with this guy, and they all owe him royalties.

Yep, rap is dead, but there's good news: Now that the Man has rap in his icy grip, blacks will have to invent a whole new genre for whitey to steal. Like a Phoenix from the flames, expect something new and exciting to emerge from the black underground. I can't wait.