Meet Darlene Ortiz, Ice-T's Former Girlfriend and the Mother of His Only Son

Darlene Ortiz and Ice-T made up one of hip-hop’s first power couples during the 1980s, and as “The Syndicate Queen,” muse, mother, and inspiration to many, its a story she couldn’t wait to tell. 

They first met back in 1985 when Ice-T MC’d at the now famous Radiotron in Los Angeles, while he tried to make a name for himself. Darlene caught his attention at the club, and in an attempt to impress her, he told Darlene he wanted to put her on the cover of his album.

Instead of bragging about an album he didn’t have, Ice-T chose to tell Darlene the truth. “When we went on our first date he was like, ‘I don’t really even have an album.’ He was up-front. He’s always been like that. He was like, ‘I don’t even have a deal,’” Darlene told Complex in 2015.

But Ice-T kept his word, and two years later, she featured on the cover of his debut album, Rhyme Pays. A 17-year relationship between them followed, and although Ice-T is almost ten years her senior, Darlene described their story as “beautiful.”

Darlene looked up to Ice-T and recalled how her childhood factored into their relationship. “I didn’t have any guidance. He could’ve told me anything; I was so intrigued with him. He used to pimp when he was in the service for extra cash. That very well could’ve happened to me. I was that open when I met him,” she said in 2015.

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Her tomboy childhood also played a part in her success in music as Darlene added, “Well, I was a tomboy, and when I started here. I started gravitating towards the entire hip-hop movement. I just felt it. And, I turned into a b-girl. So I went from a tomboy to a b-girl. Kind of a natural transition right there, and I just started dancing.”

Shortly after the release of Ice-T’s debut album, his career took off. Darlene’s appearance on the cover of his 1988 Power album not only became controversial but also pushed the boundaries of cover art.

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On this #SkipMakeUpSaturday (which is just about everyday for me) I’m feeling quite happy, considering a few let downs and disappointments but thank God, It doesn’t take much for me to get back to 100% So today, I shall cut off about 3inches of my hair, have a visit W/My son, get in a hard workout, paint my nails/toes (nothing like doing them myself), fit in a skate session, catch a movie with a senior pal, and I tell ya, I’ll be back so GOOD. #FeelinFree #FuckAFilter and yes I curse a Lil 😜😉 Only when it fits the moment 👍🏽 Keep it #Classexy How you can be classy and Sexy at the same damn time 💯👊🏽#IDontRequireMuchToBeHappy #MakeSomeoneElsesDayBetter #MeanPeopleSuck Don’t bother tellin them, they will never get it. Just sayin!

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Fierce and clad in a skimpy white bikini, Darlene stood on the cover with a shotgun in her hand. A situation it turned out she wasn’t unfamiliar with as she told Okayplayer in 2015: 

“I grew up in the country; I didn’t go to Los Angeles until 1985. I was raised in Corona, California, which is considered the desert. So, yeah, I had pictures that I posted up of my very first one [shotgun] that I got when I was about 11. So, yeah I’m pretty familiar with it.”

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Today September 13th back in 1988 the POWER album was released, yes, 28yrs ago and I was 20yrs old. A little HipHop history, even though we had already done the Rhyme Pays album before this one in 1987( yes, I did that one when I was 18 just about to be 19yrs old) it was this cover though that not only changed the game but ultimately changed my life. Funny how folks were making a big deal back then, now a days a photo like this this would be considered pretty tame. Oh and my favorite tracks off this one is "High Rollers" and "I'm Your Pusher" and not just because I was in those videos hehehe. #DefinitionOfDown #LilIcesParents #BGirlForLife #BrownBlackUnity #WestCoastGs #PermedHairDontCare #Kangols #SilkAndLinenSuits #ThreeFingerRings #GoldRopeChains #PhotographerGlenEFriedman

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After their break up in 2001, Darlene waited until their son grew older before she published a book about her earlier life titled, “Definition of Down: My Life with Ice T and the Birth of Hip Hop.”

“I had to share our story, but our son was way too young to do it then so I had to wait until he was an adult and could better understand what I was going to put in there. It’s really a great story,” she told The Source.

With their son, Tracy Marrow Jr. all grown up, the handsome young man shares a remarkable resemblance to his father, Ice-T.

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