Icons was formed from a chance meeting of Frosty da Know-Matic and Ech-U-Sketch back in the early 1990s. Originally part of a bigger collective known as the Glasshouse, Frosty and Sketch broke away and started working together as a duo. Says Frosty, “No San Diego hip-hop group has been around as long as us.”
Their 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 and Sketch employed the services of two DJs, Syko and H.O.P., with DJ/producer Demon replacing Syco in their third year.
Their debut album What Legends Are Made Of... features beats by Sketch and San Diego producer Steve Vicious. A sophomore full-length, Capture the Flag, earned a San Diego Music Award and features 28 San Diego MCs on one track. Their third album Needlesmicscanslinoleum (referencing their band logo) was released as a double album, with the second disc serving as a launching pad for their collective of up-and-coming MCs know as the Armada.
The 2001 Icons song Eff U Pay Me mentions three record distributors that Frosty claims shorted the 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 Icons were stiffed for more than $8000, the cost of the 12-inch singles that were fronted to distributors.
Frosty says the group has 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 strategy is to sell a lot of records. “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.”
Around the time of their fourth album The Prelude, H.O.P. left to pursue solo ventures and the group was temporarily a trio, with Demon as their lone DJ. After a period of inactivity, the revised Icons lineup became MC Frosty, MC Sketch, DJ Qoolee Kid, and DJ KSwift. In 2013, they released their Not a Scratch on Us EP, produced by the BatKave and Sketch. That summer, they launched a new website, HTTP://www.icons619.com, with an August 16 party at Sadaf downtown.
MC Frosty released a solo EP in late 2015, Audiograff.