"We've been together for ten years," says MC Frosty. "No San Diego hip-hop group has been around as long as us." Frosty and producer/MC Sketch are original members of the Icons. DJ/producer Demon has been an Icon for seven years.

After getting burned a couple of times, Frosty says a pending record deal with L.A. indie label Avatar will be consummated "...once the loot is in my hand. Avatar is big on soundtracks. They did the soundtrack for the [HBO series] Oz." Frosty says Avatar has agreed to give his group a cash advance and press and distribute their already-recorded fourth album.

Five years ago, the Icons released "Eff U Pay Me," a song that mentioned three record distributors that Frosty claims shorted his group on royalties.

"I got every kind of runaround imaginable, from 'We'll get you a check' to 'We had personnel changes,' " says Frosty. He estimates the Icons were stiffed for more than $8000, the cost of the 12-inch singles that were fronted to distributors.

A worse injustice occurred at the hands of a Seattle T-shirt company that allegedly parlayed their logo. The Icons' name was derived from a graphic they created that depicts four hip-hop icons (a microphone, a record needle, a spray-paint can, and a break dancer) in rounded boxes. Frosty claims that the owner of the T-shirt company got an Icons sticker at the 1998 Action Sports Retail trade show in San Diego; the company then mass produced the logo on T-shirts and sold them throughout the western U.S.

"That is not completely resolved," says Frosty. "We want more than what [the small company's owner is] willing to settle for. Dealing with him is not like dealing with Nike, where they have books and accounting. It's hard to deal with someone like this who is not much bigger than you are. But he did back off [from] using our logo."

Frosty says the Icons have never been about gangster rap. "Gangster is the dominant music genre in San Diego...but gangster rap keeps you out of the clubs." The group's new strategy is to sell a lot of records here in order to attract the attention of a major label.

"I need to sell 10,000 copies here. We want to stamp San Diego hard. Once you sell 5000 or 7000 in one city, it will take you to other places."

The Icons appear at the House of Blues March 26.

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