Vanilla Ice

Vanilla Ice

Synopsis of Pop Music

"To the extreme I rock the mike like a vandal,
Light up the stage and wax a chump like a candle..."

Vanilla Ice was one of the most controversial pop stars of the early 90’s. His prominent use of a Queen sample in his megahit “Ice Ice Baby” made him the target of a lawsuit. He was also mercilessly hounded by the press when it was discovered the biography his publicists had given them was not entirely truthful. Just the same, Vanilla Ice rose above the controversy to sell several million records. More importantly, he played a crucial role in popularizing rap music with pop audiences around the world.

Vanilla Ice was born Robert Van Winkle in Miami during the late 60’s. He became involved in the city’s rap scene as a kid and kept this interest when he moved to Dallas as a teen. It was in Dallas that Van Winkle became a rap performer himself, opening concerts for the likes of Tone-Loc and Public Enemy. He adopted the stage name ‘Vanilla Ice’ and independently recorded his first album To The Extreme. One of its songs, “Ice Ice Baby,” became an underground hit in the American south, thanks to its clever mix of rapid-fire rapping and a throbbing bassline lifted from the Queen/David Bowie hit “Under Pressure.”

Vanilla Ice’s underground success got him noticed by record executives and he soon got his own recording contract. To The Extreme was remixed and reissued. “Ice Ice Baby” soon became the first rap song to hit #1 on the pop charts, but the tune was never released as a single. This clever strategy made the album an out-of-the box hit and it ended up selling five million copies in its first month of release alone. Ice's style—consisting of flashy clothes, partly-shaved eyebrows and a mile-high flattop—made him a favorite in teen magazines and on MTV, helping the record sell steadily. He also scored a #2 hit with his cover of “Play That Funky Music,” originally the A-side of "Ice Ice Baby" back in Ice's Dallas days.

However, Ice soon found himself in hot water with the press when it was revealed that the bio his record company handed out falsely portrayed him as a street kid. It was soon revealed that he was actually a moto-cross champ who hailed from the suburbs. However, his fans could have cared less and they eagerly snapped up copies of his next album, Extremely Live. Vanilla Ice also starred in his own feature film, Cool As Ice, as well as making an appearance in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Part II. After all this success, he decided he needed a rest and took a break for the next few years.

Vanilla Ice returned with a new image and new sound in 1994. Mind Blowin’ showed a tougher-looking, dreadlocked Ice on its cover and the album itself had a tougher sound that flirted with gangsta rap. He dropped out of the public eye for a while due to troubles with drug addiction but returned in 1996 with a cameo on the hit album One Fierce Beer Coaster by the Bloodhound Gang. Ice returned to recording in 1998 with Hard To Swallow, an album that married rap to hard-rock guitar. His subsequent club tour became a hit, proving that Vanilla Ice’s style of rapping still has plenty of fans. Word to your mother.

Artist Release History

1990 - To the Extreme
1991 - Extremely Live
1991 - Cool as Ice
1994 - Mind Blowin
1998 - Hard to Swallow

Pop Sub Categories


Essential Music Albums

To The Extreme (SBK)

Band Members

Vanilla Ice vocals

Other Pop Music Links