Controversial rapper Ice-T has made a distribution deal with Priority Records for his “Home Invasion” album, according to sources close to the negotiations.

While several companies made 11th-hour bids for the rights of the rapper’s recently completed album, as well as for the services of the artist, Ice-T opted to enter into a straight, one-album distribution deal with the L.A.-based label, according to sources.

Ice-T was released from his Warner Bros. contract last week (Daily Variety, Jan. 28), with the label citing “creative differences” as the reason. The artist was free to record for other labels.

Many described Warner Bros. Records’ release of Ice-T as inevitable following last summer’s furor over the “Cop Killer” song from his “Body Count” rock album, and the reaction to the recording at the Time Warner shareholders meeting in Beverly Hills last July.

Priority has long been rumored as the front-runner to land Ice-T, as the label is home to several successful rap acts, including Ice Cube and Dr. Dre.

While industry observers had expected major labels to avoid the controversial artist, forcing him to turn to independent labels, sources said several major labels joined the bidding war.

However, those sources said Time Warner-distributed labels were prohibited by the parent company from bidding.

TW-affiliated Def American Records’ Rick Rubin and Giant Records head Irving Azoff reportedly both were interested in Ice-T, but were precluded from bidding.

Reps for Ice-T declined to comment. Priority prez Bryan Turner would not comment. A label spokesperson confirmed there have been discussions but that “nothing has been finalized.”

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