Rapper-turned-actor Ice-T is still haunted by nightmares from his criminal past.

The Law & Order: Special Victims Unit star, real name Tracy Marrow, spent his early years running with gangs in his native New Jersey and claims to have been involved in robberies and prostitution.

He turned his back on his life on the streets after finding fame as a rapper in the 1980s, and although his problematic past is long behind him, the rapper admits he still suffers from bad dreams and paranoia.

He tells Rolling Stone magazine, "My brain is wired different (sic). If that door opened and I ask you, 'Who's coming through that door?', somebody could say, 'My mother' or maybe, 'Somebody from my past', but I'd say, 'Some dudes in ski masks'. I've been in heavy situations.

"When you lived it, you're paranoid. I carried guns so much that I had a bruise on my leg for a year after I stopped. It's that life that I wouldn't wish on anybody. You think you want to do it until you get into it. Then you're like, 'Lord have mercy'. My music is warning you (against a life of crime). It might seem like I'm promoting it, but I'm really warning you against it, like, 'You don't wanna f**k with this.'"