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Vanilla Ice

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Vanilla Ice
Vanilla Ice in 2010
Vanilla Ice in 2010
Background information
Birth nameRobert Matthew Van Winkle
Born (1967-10-31) October 31, 1967 (age 54)
Dallas, Texas, U.S.
OriginDallas, Texas, U.S.
Miami, Florida, U.S.
GenresHip hop,[1][2] rap rock,[3][4] nu metal,[1][5] rap metal[2]
Occupation(s)Rapper, actor, record producer, singer, television host
Years active1985–present
LabelsPsychopathic (2011–2017)
Radium (2008–2011)
Cleopatra (2008)
Ultrax (2004–2007)
Liquid 8 (2000–2003)
Republic/Universal (1996–1999)
SBK/EMI (1990–1994)
Ichiban (1987–1989), Arista
Associated acts

Robert Matthew Van Winkle (born October 31, 1967), known professionally as Vanilla Ice, is an American rapper, actor, and television host. Born in South Dallas, and raised in Texas and South Florida, Ice released his debut album, Hooked, in 1989 on Ichiban Records, before signing a contract with SBK Records, a record label of the EMI Group, which released a reformatted version of the album in 1990 under the title To the Extreme which became the fastest-selling hip hop album of all time[6] and contained Ice's best-known hits: "Ice Ice Baby" and a cover of "Play That Funky Music". "Ice Ice Baby" was the first hip hop single to top the Billboard charts and has been credited with helping to diversify hip hop by introducing it to a mainstream audience.

Although he was successful, Ice later regretted his business arrangements with SBK, which had paid him to adopt a more commercial appearance to appeal to a mass audience and published fabricated biographical information without his knowledge. Soundtrack appearances and a live album, Extremely Live, continued the success, but a second mainstream studio album, Mind Blowin', featured an image change which saw a massive drop in popularity for Ice. After surviving a suicide attempt, Ice changed his musical style and lifestyle. While his later, less mainstream albums, including Hard to Swallow, Bi-Polar and Platinum Underground, failed to chart or receive much radio airplay, Ice gained an underground following. In 2009, Ice began hosting The Vanilla Ice Project on DIY Network. His latest album, WTF – Wisdom, Tenacity & Focus, was released in August 2011. After that, Ice signed to Psychopathic Records.

Early life

Robert Matthew Van Winkle was born in Dallas, Texas, on October 31, 1967.[7] Van Winkle has never known his biological father; he was given the family name of the man his mother was married to at the time of his birth.[8] When Van Winkle was four, his mother divorced. Afterward, he grew up moving between Dallas and Miami,[9] where his new stepfather worked at a car dealership.[8] Van Winkle was affected by hip hop at an early age, saying "It's a very big passion of mine because I love poetry. I was just heavily influenced by that whole movement and it's molded me into who I am today."[10] Between the ages of 13 and 14, Van Winkle practiced breakdancing, which led to his friends nicknaming him "Vanilla", as he was the only one in the group who was not black.[11][12] Although he disliked the nickname, it stuck. Shortly afterward, Van Winkle started battle rapping at parties and because of his rhymes, his friends started calling him "MC Vanilla". However, when he became a member of a breakdance troupe, Van Winkle's stage name was "Vanilla Ice" combining his nickname "Vanilla" with one of his breakdance moves, "The Ice".[13] When Ice's stepfather was offered a better job in Carrollton, Texas, he moved back to Texas with his mother. When Ice was not learning to ride motorbikes, he was dancing as a street performer with his breakdancing group, now called The Vanilla Ice Posse. Ice wrote "Ice Ice Baby" at the age of 16, basing its lyrics on a weekend he had with friend and disc jockey D-Shay in South Florida.[14] The lyrics describe Ice and Shay on a drug run that ends in a drive-by shooting while praising Ice's rhyming skills.[15]


Early career (1985–1989)

In 1985, he was focusing all of his energy on motocross, winning three championships.[16] After breaking his ankle during a race, Ice was not interested in racing professionally for some time, using his spare time to perfect his dance moves and creating his own while his ankle was healing. Ice used his beatboxing and breakdancing skills as a street performer with his friends at local malls during this time.[17] One evening he visited City Lights, a South Dallas nightclub, where he was dared to go on stage by his friend Squirrel during an open-mic. He won the crowd over and was asked by City Lights manager John Bush if he wanted to perform regularly, which he accepted. Ice would be joined on stage with his disc jockey D-Shay and Zero as well as Earthquake, the local disc jockey at City Lights. The Vanilla Ice Posse or The V.I.P. would also perform with Ice on stage.[11] As a performer for City Lights, Ice opened up for N.W.A, Public Enemy, The D.O.C., Tone Lōc, 2 Live Crew, Paula Abdul, Sinbad and MC Hammer.[18]

In January 1987, Ice was stabbed five times during a scuffle outside of City Lights. After spending ten days at the hospital, Ice signed a contract with the owner of City Lights, Tommy Quon and his management company, Ultrax.[19][20] Two years later, Ice would open for EPMD, Ice-T, Stetsasonic, and Sir Mix-A-Lot on the Stop the Violence Tour.[21][22] Quon saw commercial potential in Ice's rapping and dancing skills.[9][23] Buying studio time with Quon's earnings from City Lights, they recorded songs that had been perfected on stage by Ice and his acquaintances with various producers, including Khayree. The two year production was distributed by an independent record company called Ichiban Records in 1989.[24] "Play That Funky Music" was released as the album's first single, with "Ice Ice Baby" appearing as the B-side.[20][25] Tommy Quon personally sent out the single to various radio stations around the US, but the single was seldom played and when it was, it did not get the reaction Quon was hoping for. When disc jockey Darrell Jaye in Georgia played "Ice Ice Baby" instead of the single's A-side, the song gained a quick fanbase and other radio stations followed suit.[20] Quon financed $8,000 for the production of a music video for "Ice Ice Baby",[26][27] which received heavy airplay by The Box, increasing public interest in the song.[28]

Following the success of "Ice Ice Baby", record producer Suge Knight and two bodyguards arrived at The Palm in West Hollywood, where Ice was eating. After shoving Ice's bodyguards aside, Knight and his own bodyguards sat down in front of Ice, staring at him before finally asking "How you doin'?"[29] Similar incidents were repeated on several occasions. Eventually, Knight showed up at Ice's hotel suite on the fifteenth floor of the Bel Age Hotel, accompanied by a member of the Los Angeles Raiders football team.[29] According to Ice, Knight took him out on the balcony by himself, and implied that he would throw him off the balcony unless he signed the publishing rights to the song over to Knight; Knight used Ice's money to help fund Death Row Records.[22][30]

Mainstream success (1990–1993)

On the basis of Ice's good looks and dance moves, Public Enemy tried to convince their producer, Hank Shocklee, to sign Ice to Def Jam,[31] but Ice later signed a contract with SBK Records in 1990. SBK remixed and re-recorded Hooked under the title To the Extreme. The reissue contained new artwork and music.[32] According to Ice, SBK paid him to adopt a more commercial, conventional appearance. This led Ice to later regret his business agreements with SBK.[33]

To the Extreme became the fastest selling hip hop album of all time,[34] spending sixteen weeks at #1 on the Billboard 200[35] and selling eleven million copies.[36] SBK Record executive Monte Lipman stated that he received calls from radio stations reporting over 200 phone calls requesting "Ice Ice Baby". SBK wanted Ice on the road as soon as possible. MC Hammer, an old acquaintance from his club days, had Ice on as an opening act on his tour.[37] Reviews of To the Extreme were mixed. Entertainment Weekly reviewer Mim Udovitch gave the album a B, citing "Ice Ice Baby", "Play That Funky Music", "Dancin'" and "It's a Party" as the album's highlights.[38] Robert Christgau gave the album a C− rating, writing that Ice's "suave sexism, fashionably male supremacist rather than dangerously obscene, is no worse than his suave beats".[39] Criticizing the technique and style of Vanilla Ice, Allrovi reviewer Steve Huey wrote:

Ice's mic technique is actually stronger and more nimble than MC Hammer's, and he really tries earnestly to show off the skills he does have. Unfortunately, even if he can keep a mid-tempo pace, his flow is rhythmically stiff, and his voice has an odd timbre; plus, he never seems sure of the proper accent to adopt. He's able to overcome those flaws somewhat in isolated moments, but they become all too apparent over the course of an entire album.[32]

In late 1990, Ice began an eight-month relationship with Madonna, and appeared in photographs for her book, Sex.[40][41] In the height of Ice's popularity, SBK licensed a 12" doll which was made by THQ. In January 1991, he was the musical guest on Saturday Night Live. Ice branched out into the film industry with an appearance in the film Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze, which he later called "one of the coolest experiences" of his career.[9] Ice was very secretive about his personal life, with the intention of protecting his family. When a Dallas Morning News reporter asked Ice what his mother's profession was, he replied, "None of your fucking business."[42] In an attempt to rectify this, his former label wrote a fake biography in his name and tried to pass it off as his official life story without his knowledge. While on tour in 1991, Ice found out that SBK had instigated the publication of the biography which detailed false biographical information, including claims that he had attended school with Luther Campbell and exaggerating his living conditions in Miami, which Ice later had to debunk by himself.[43]

Ice's second major release was the live album Extremely Live, released in March 1991. The album was a live recording during Vanilla Ice's performance in Miami during his To The Extreme tour. Premiering new songs like Rollin' in My 5.0, Road To My Riches and Satisfaction, the album peaked at #30 on the Billboard 200,[44] but it received mainly negative reviews, with Entertainment Weekly reviewer David Browne calling it "one of the most ridiculous albums ever released", comparing it to The Best of Marcel Marceau, an album which consisted of two sides of silence opened by brief applause. According to Browne, Extremely Live "affords you the chance to hear inane stage patter [...] and unaccompanied drumming, during which, one assumes, Ice and his posse are onstage dancing."[45] Monte Lipman later stated that SBK only released the live disc to make more money from Ice's fame. In April 1991, Ice began to film the SBK produced Cool as Ice, in which he played a leading role.[46]

Cool as Ice opened on October 18, 1991, in 393 theaters in the United States, grossing $638,000, ranking at #14 among the week's new releases.[47] Reviews of the film were negative. Film website Rotten Tomatoes, which compiles reviews from a wide range of critics, gives the film a score of 8%.[48] Ice received a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst New Star.[49] SBK stated that they overexposed Ice and Ice decided to stop taking their business advice as well as distancing himself from the image that SBK was trying to create for him. In late 1991, Ice appeared in the Circus of the Stars and Sideshow, driving his motorcycle through a wall of fire. While his fame in the United States had severely dropped, Ice continued touring in 1992, playing in South America, Europe, Australia and Asia, premiering new songs like "Get Loose", "The Wrath", "Now & Forever", "Where the Dogs At? (All Night Long)", "Minutes of Power" and "Iceman Party". After a performance in Acapulco, the city honored Ice with a medal that represented "all the respect and admiration to [Ice's] music and to [him] as an artist from the Mexican people".[50] Ice also served as a spokesperson for Nike and Coca-Cola throughout 1991 and 1992.[51] In 1993, Ice toured Eastern Europe again and premiered songs off his upcoming album in St. Petersburg, Russia in front of President Boris Yeltsin.[52]

Mind Blowin, music break and drug abuse (1994–1996)

After almost non-stop touring for the previous three years, Ice took a break from music in 1993 and began competing in jet skiing.[53] as well as resuming Motocross racing.[54]

By 1994, Ice received less publicity and faded from the public spotlight. After becoming more interested with the Rastafari movement, Ice became a vegetarian,[55] grew dreadlocks and talked more openly about smoking cannabis.[56] On March 22, 1994, Ice released his second studio album, Mind Blowin'. Reviews were unfavorable. Entertainment Weekly reviewer James Bernard called the album "more clunky than funky".[57] Rolling Stone reviewer Danyel Smith praised the song "Get Loose" as "snappy", writing that although the lyrics are "inane", "the song is a thumping party, one of the few places where Ice loosens up. He sounds solid at the beginning of 'The Wrath' as well ... In 'Now and Forever,' a wet dream kind of song, Ice goes back to goofy lyrics."[citation needed] Allrovi reviewer Stephen Thomas Erlewine wrote that "There isn't a single moment that establishes a distinct musical identity, and the whole thing is rather embarrassing."[58] When asked about the drug oriented sound years later, Vanilla Ice said "A lot of the record is drug oriented because I was doing a lot of drugs at the time". Shortly afterward, SBK went bankrupt.[citation needed]

At around this time, Ice began using ecstasy, cocaine and heroin. During periods of heavy drug use, Ice received many tattoos from artist acquaintances. According to Ice, he "was in [his] binge days. [He] didn't even realize how many [he] was getting".[59] Ice attempted suicide with a heroin overdose on July 4, 1994, but was revived by his friends.[citation needed] After being revived, Ice decided that it was time to change his lifestyle. As a symbol of his attempt to begin anew, he got a tattoo of a leaf on his stomach.[59] After expanding his Mind Blowin tour overseas in 1995, Ice sold his estate in California and took a break from music, rather focusing on motocrossing and jet skiing in Florida. By the summer, Ice was the world's No. 6-ranked sit-down jet ski racer, competing nearly every weekend and earning a Kawasaki sponsorship.[56]

Uncertain about his future career, Ice studied real estate and started working on the side renovating and selling houses. In late 1995, he set up a recording studio in Miami and joined a grunge band, Pickin Scabz. The name was set to reflect Ice's career, and how he was healing from his suicide attempt, and that he was now "picking up the pieces".[21] Ice expressed an interest in performing hip hop-influenced rock music, but found that the band was unable to produce the sound he was looking for.[citation needed] In 1996, longtime associate and friend Monte Lipman signed Ice for Universal Republic Records. He did guest vocals with no stage name for the song "Boom" by Bloodhound Gang on their CD One Fierce Beer Coaster.


Ice later developed a friendship with producer Ross Robinson, who had become known for producing music by Deftones, Korn, Limp Bizkit and Sepultura. Robinson and Ice shared an interest in motocross racing.[21] Monte Lipman hoped that Robinson would produce a new Vanilla Ice album. According to Robinson, others had attempted to discourage him from working with Ice, saying it might hurt his reputation. Rather than being dissuaded, Robinson was encouraged by their reticence and agreed to work with Ice. In an interview, Robinson stated, "It's the most punk-rock thing you could do."[60] Despite not being happy with his old image, Van Winkle stated that he never had a problem with his older music. He decided against changing his stage name, as he felt no need to run from his past, despite being uneasy with some of it, and started performing again, booking a hundred shows a year.[18]

Ice's third studio album, Hard to Swallow, featured a darker sound and lyrics than Ice's previous work, as well as various mixtures of different styles of hip hop and hard rock, which garnered media attention. Ice attracted a whole new audience when he started touring again, some who were even unfamiliar with his more mainstream sound.[61] Reviews were generally negative; Jon Pareles of The New York Times wrote, "The most earnest new song, Scars, condemns an abusive father. The sentiments would sound more genuine if Korn hadn't gotten there first."[62] Richard Torres of Rolling Stone gave the album two out of five stars, writing that while "nothing, however, can redeem Ice's wack boasting," the album "isn't half-bad."[63] In The New Rolling Stone Album Guide, Rob Kemp gave the album three out of five stars, writing that it contained Ice's "most convincing music".[64] In promotion of Hard to Swallow, Ice toured with a seven-piece live band which included future Weezer bassist Scott Shriner.[65] The band opened with rock-oriented material from Hard to Swallow and concluded with older hip hop songs.[66] The setlist also included "Power", based upon Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song".[67] Ice said that writing the songs and performing them were like therapy, as he had tried to hide his anger when making his older songs but Robinson was the first producer who told him to use it to create.[citation needed]

Vanilla Ice was a member of the softball team The Hip Hop Stars alongside Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and Method Man in a 1999 game shown on MTV Rock N' Jock . Later in 1999, MTV asked Vanilla Ice to join their cast to "retire" the music video for "Ice Ice Baby" on the MTV special 25 Lame, in which Ice himself was asked to destroy the video's master tape. When Ice was given a baseball bat, he ended up destroying not only the film but the show's entire set as well.[41][68] In 2001, DJ ReAnimator remixed "Ice Ice Baby" with Vanilla Ice re-doing his vocals for the track. Ice Ice Baby 2001 was released as a single and music video for the European market, spawning a wave of new overseas interest in Vanilla Ice.[69]

Having attracted a following outside of his former mainstream audience, Ice began recording independently, despite still being signed to Universal. During a recording session, Ice met the all-female American hard rock band from Southern California, Betty Blowtorch. The late Bianca Halstead bonded with Ice and asked if he wanted to contribute a rap interlude to their track Size Queen. On Ice's collaboration with the band, lead vocalist and bassist Halstead was quoted saying, "I asked him if he could rap over [the track] and he said he can rap over anything. And he could!"[70] Per his stepfather's request, Ice started working with his former manager Tommy Quon again. While hoping to re-create some of the magic that they worked hard on in the early 1990s, Ice denied any interest in trying to become big again, stating that his only passion was music, not fame.[12]

In May 2000, Ice wrestled in a match promoted by Juggalo Championship Wrestling, then known as Juggalo Championshit Wrestling, filling in for Insane Clown Posse member Shaggy 2 Dope, who had been injured during a match. MTV News reported that Insane Clown Posse would make an appearance on Ice's next album, tentatively titled Bomb Tha System.[71] In October 2000, Ice announced that his next album would be titled Skabz, and that Chuck D was confirmed to appear on the album. It was initially planned as a double album featuring a disc containing rock-oriented material and a disc of hip hop songs.[72] In July 2001, Ice performed at the second Gathering of the Juggalos.[73] On October 23, 2001, Skabz and Bomb Tha System were released together as Bi-Polar.[72] The album also featured La the Darkman, Perla, Insane Poetry and Bob Kakaha. Bradley Torreano of Allrovi disliked the album, criticizing it as "wildly uneven and at times hilariously bad", but also stating "Vanilla Ice is still better than a lot of the rap-metal bands that erupted in 2000/2001." and the rap beats on Bomb Tha System "are surprisingly solid".[74] In The New Rolling Stone Album Guide, Rob Kemp gave the album one out of five stars, calling the album "utterly listless".[64] According to a Sony BMG executive, sales of Bi-Polar were "not bad...for Vanilla Ice. That's pretty respectable. Seriously."[75][76]

Independent releases (2002–2009)

With Quon back as manager, Ice was scheduled to appear in various reality TV programs. Ice, still an entertainer at heart, felt that the experience would be good for him. In 2002, he appeared on Celebrity Boxing, fighting Todd Bridges under the name 'Bi-Polar'. In 2003, he appeared in five episodes of Hollywood Squares, eight episodes on 'The Farm' and three episodes of Celebrity Bull Riding Challenge, and made a cameo appearance in The New Guy in 2002. Around this time, Vanilla Ice also returned to the world of motocross. He auditioned for the 2002 X Games in the freestyle division and placed seventh at the 2003 Suzuki Crossover challenge, according to Sports Illustrated. He told the magazine that the track "is where I'm happiest."[77]

In 2003, Ice contributed vocals to "Off the Chain" by 7x70, a side project of Iron Maiden drummer Nicko McBrain and Anthrax guitarist Dan Spitz. A demo of the song was leaked in June.[78][79] In 2003, Ultrax reissued Bomb Tha System (the second part of "Bi-Polar") under the title Hot Sex, which was a single from the original album.[76]

From January to February 2004, Ice appeared on the reality television series The Surreal Life.[12] Although much of the series was staged, Ice found the experience to be therapeutic, stating that a comment made by Tammy Faye Messner during filming, "We are who we are because of who we were", helped him accept his past.[43]

On August 2, 2005, Ice released his fifth studio album, Platinum Underground. He stated that the title of the album reflected the fact that he could maintain a fanbase without mainstream airplay.[12] Allrovi reviewer Rob Theakston panned the album, writing that it "has more bad spots in it than most".[80] Ice included a song titled Ninja Rap 2, which was set to be a hardcore remix. Aside from the name, the song has very little connection to Ice's original 1991 single, but rather talks about his appreciation of his fans, his love of performing at clubs and playing at the Gathering of the Juggalos with Insane Clown Posse. Ninja Rap 2 was the first song to be released from Platinum Underground and was available to download for free off of Ice's official website.

In 2007, Ice returned to a spin-off of The Surreal Life titled The Surreal Life: Fame Games, where he again trashed the set after being voted off. In September 2008, Ice signed a contract with Cleopatra Records, recording the cover album Vanilla Ice Is Back! at the label's request.[81] The album was released on November 4, 2008, and contained covers of songs by Public Enemy, House of Pain, Bob Marley, and Cypress Hill. IGN reviewer Spence D. called the album "an embarrassing endeavor that sounds like it should have stayed locked inside Ice's studio (or at the very least leaked on YouTube and passed off as a piss take)."[82] On February 27, 2009, Ice performed as part of a joint performance with MC Hammer in Orem, Utah, called "Hammer Pants And Ice", which featured twenty four dancers and a full choir.[83]


Vanilla Ice performing at InfoCision Stadium in Akron, Ohio, August 2018

In August 2009, Ice announced on his official Twitter account that he had signed a contract with StandBy Records; however, Ice later left the label.[84] Ice was a special musical guest at the 2010 National Television Awards in January, performing with Jedward for their remix and debut single "Under Pressure (Ice Ice Baby)". Ice also recorded his verse for their album Planet Jedward and appeared in the music video. He was a part of The Back2Kool concert tour with Turbo B and MC Hammer, playing worldwide in late 2010, and reunited with his former DJ, Floyd 'Earthquake' Brown, for the shows overseas. In early 2011, Vanilla Ice appeared on the sixth season of the UK show Dancing on Ice, as well as various ice skating tours surrounding the show.[85]

In 2009, Ice started filming a reality television series called The Vanilla Ice Project, which premiered on DIY Network on October 14, 2010. The season was focused on renovating a house in Palm Beach, Florida, with each episode dedicated to a different room in the house.[9][86] In 2011, Ice published a book on the subject, Vanilla Ice Project – Real Estate Guide, on how to succeed in real estate. The book was made available as a free digital download on his real estate website.[87] The second season began airing in January 2012, the third season in January 2013.

In June 2011, Ice filmed a role in the movie That's My Boy, starring Adam Sandler and Andy Samberg, (released in 2012).[88] In the film, Ice portrays an exaggerated version of himself called Uncle Vanny. While shooting, he collaborated with Samberg and Sandler musically.[89] In August, Ice performed at the 2011 Gathering of the Juggalos, where it was officially announced that he had signed with Psychopathic Records.[90] His sixth studio album, WTF, was released on August 19 through Radium Records. While the record featured an array of different styles, like other recent Vanilla Ice albums, it also featured Ice's return to Electronica, with songs like "Turn It Up", "Rock Star Party", "Nightmare Disco" and "Cadillac Ninjas".[91][92] Regarding the new record and its numerous musical genres, Ice said, "It's like techno hip-hop. European. I live a lot in Europe, and when I'm over there I get way into the techno stuff and I get into new music. So I thought I'd make a record of it. I did the thing and it was a lot of fun".[93]

In December 2011, Ice played Captain Hook in the Chatham, Kent, Central Theatre pantomime production of Peter Pan, a role that previously belonged to Henry Winkler.[94] He also turned on the Christmas lights for Rochester, Kent, in Rochester Castle, as part of the promotion for the panto.[95] On May 12, 2012, Vanilla Ice helped in the launch of the Mr. Freeze Reverse Blast roller coaster at Six Flags over Texas in Arlington with a free concert for valid daily park ticket or 2012 Season Pass holders.[96] In mid 2013, Vanilla Ice joined the New Kids on the Block tour alongside Boyz II Men.

On September 15, 2013, Vanilla Ice performed at the halftime show of a Houston Texans game. Houston went on to lose the remaining fourteen games of the season, leading some players to blame Vanilla Ice for the losing streak.[97]

In the Western comedy film The Ridiculous Six, released in 2015, Ice portrayed Mark Twain.[98] He also had a non-speaking cameo in another Netflix movie; Sandy Wexler

On August 30, 2016, Vanilla Ice was announced as one of the celebrities who will compete on season 23 of Dancing with the Stars. He was partnered with professional dancer Witney Carson.[99] They were eliminated on October 4, 2016.[100]

On January 1, 2017, Vanilla Ice was invited by Insane Clown Posse and Psychopathic Records to take part in the free concert (September 16, 2017), the Juggalo March On Washington (September 17, 2017) as well as feature in the Family Psypher.[101] For the last three years, Vanilla Ice has been one of the main headliners for the worldwide 'I Love the 90s Tour'.

On January 4, 2019, it was announced that Dave Franco was attached to star as Ice in a biopic chronicling the rapper.[102]

On December 31, 2020, Ice was the star attraction at a New Year's Eve party at President Trump's mansion Mar-a-Lago. The President himself was unable to attend, but Donald Trump Jr. captured Ice's performance on his cellphone. New Year's Eve 2020 was also the younger Trump's 43rd birthday. Notable attendees included Don Jr.'s girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle, Rudy Giuliani, Sean Spicer and others. Ice performed before hundreds of maskless attendees dancing.[103]

In June 2021, Ice narrated a BBC Radio 5 Live documentary podcast covering the theft of the racehorse Shergar.[104]

Personal life

Vanilla Ice dated Madonna for eight months in 1991–1992.[105] Ice married Laura Giaritta in 1997; they have two daughters, Dusti Rain (born 1998) and KeeLee Breeze (born 2000).[106] Ice describes himself as a "Juggalo", a fan of Psychopathic Records hip hop groups.[107]

By 2012, he was a vegetarian for six years.[108]

In 2016, Ice's wife filed for divorce, saying that the marriage was "irretrievably broken."[109] His third child with his new wife was born in 2018.[110]

Legal issues

On August 8, 1988, Ice was arrested in South Dallas for illegal drag racing.[111] In 1990, Ice was threatened with copyright infringement for use of samples from "Under Pressure" by Queen and David Bowie. The matter was settled out of court.[112]

On June 3, 1991, he was arrested in Los Angeles on firearm charges after threatening a homeless man, James N. Gregory, with a pistol. Gregory had approached Ice's car outside of a supermarket and attempted to sell him a silver chain.[113][114] Ice and his bodyguard were charged with three weapons offenses.[115] Ice pleaded no contest.[116]

In January 2001, Ice was arrested by police in Davie, Florida, for assaulting his wife, Laura. According to the criminal complaint, Ice and his wife argued as they drove on Interstate 595. Ice admitted to pulling hair from her head to prevent her from jumping out of the truck's window.[117] He pleaded guilty to charges of disorderly conduct four months later and was sentenced to probation and ordered to attend family therapy sessions.[citation needed]

Ice's pet wallaroo, Bucky, and pet goat, Pancho, escaped from his wife's grandmother's home in Port St. Lucie, Florida in November 2004. After wandering around local streets for over a week, the animals were caught and returned to Ice. He paid a $220 fine for expired pet tags and an undisclosed fine for the escape of the animals.[118]

Ice appeared in West Palm Beach court in September 2007 to be arraigned for driving with an expired license. In the months leading up to the court hearing, he had been pulled over for doing 74 in a 45-mph zone, violating high-occupancy vehicle lane restrictions and having illegally tinted car windows.[119]

On April 10, 2008, Ice was arrested in Palm Beach County on a battery charge for allegedly kicking and hitting his wife.[120] He was released the following day, after she declared that her husband had only pushed her. In court, the couple's neighbor, Frank Morales, stated that it was merely a verbal argument.[120] Ice was ordered by a Florida court to stay away from his wife following his arrest, and to communicate with his children only if Morales accompanied him. The judge told Ice that he could only contact his wife via telephone.[120] On April 29, 2008, Ice's lawyers, Bradford Cohen and Joseph LoRusso, were able to get the charges dropped after providing the state attorney with evidence that conflicted with what was originally reported.[121]

In February 2015, Ice was arrested and charged with residential burglary and grand theft after he allegedly stole furniture, a pool heater, bicycles and other items from a Florida home that he believed to be vacant.[122] He later accepted a plea deal which would result in the charges being dropped following his completion of 100 hours of community service and payment of restitution to the estate of the homeowner.[123]

Style and influences

MC Hammer performing with Vanilla Ice in July 2009

As of the late 2000s, Ice's live performances feature a mix of newer, rock and techno-influenced material and old-school hip hop.[12] Ice performs with a live drummer and DJ,[124] and sometimes sprays his audience with bottled water.[125] Ice's performances often feature an inflatable grim reaper balloon, a dancer in a clown mask, and confetti thrown into the audience.[9] Describing his performances, Ice stated "It's high energy, stage diving, pyrotechnics, girls showing their breasts. It's crazy party atmosphere."[12]

Ice stated that his musical style was influenced by underground music, rather than mainstream music, and that his influences included hip hop and funk artists such as Funkadelic, Rick James, Roger Troutman, Egyptian Lover and Parliament.[12] Ice is a big fan of 50's and 60's reggae and Bob Marley's work and has also stated that he enjoys Rage Against the Machine, Slipknot, and System of a Down.[12]

Ice sometimes plays bass, drums and keyboards on studio recordings.[11] Vanilla Ice referred to his mainstream music as "above-ground" rather than underground, as he tried to make danceable beats and removed expletives so that the songs could reach a wider audience. A lot of his early hits had Ice boasting sexual conquests, in 1991, Ice was quoted "I rap about what I know. Girls and stuff. That's what is going through my head."[126]

When asked about his darker sound in 2002, Ice replied; "Music is about reflection and I'm just reflecting my life and everything it's been and there's no way I'm going to be able to stress what I want and mean over a break beat, you know, it's too emotional and it's too intense, so you have to have the intensity of the band, it's like a symphony, you know, you have to build on the intense parts, and so it just wasn't going to happen, to come extreme over some hip hop record, so to exorcise my demons I had to have the band."[127]


Along with Beastie Boys, 3rd Bass, and House of Pain, Ice was one of the earliest white rappers to attain major success.[128] Chuck D has credited Ice as a regional breakthrough, stating "He broke through in the mid-South, in a Southern area in Texas, in something that was kind of indigenous to that hip-hop culture down there. He just doesn't get credit for it."[129] In 1991, 3rd Bass released a single called "Pop Goes the Weasel", and in the lyrics comparing Ice unfavorably to Elvis Presley. The song's music video featured Henry Rollins as Ice, who is depicted as being assaulted by 3rd Bass. Ice responded to "Pop Goes the Weasel" with his 1992 song "The Wrath".[130] Del tha Funkee Homosapien referred to Ice in the lyrics of "Pissin' on Your Steps", which appeared on his 1991 debut album I Wish My Brother George Was Here. Similar to 'Pop Goes the Weasel', the song negatively makes a connection between Ice and Elvis, while saying Ice alongside MC Hammer are mocking hip hop by being commercial.[131] Vanilla Ice answered back to most of his critics in the song "Hit 'em Hard".[132]

Vanilla Ice appears as a video game character in Championship Motocross released in 2001 on PlayStation 2.[133] The hairstylist character in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is also modeled after Vanilla Ice. Former Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight champion Chuck 'The Iceman' Lidell used Ice's song Too Cold for his entrance to the ring.[134] In 2007, Nike released Vanilla Ice shoes for their Fallen Heroes pack.[135] Rapper G-Child, best known for her appearance on ego trip's The (White) Rapper Show, has credited Ice as being a major influence on her work.[136] After meeting Ice in 2000, G-Child performed freestyle raps at six of Ice's performances, and opened for him four times.[136] The late rapper Ol' Dirty Bastard appeared on stage with Vanilla Ice during the 2004 Gathering of the Juggalos and expressed interest in working on a song together after stating that he was Ice's "greatest fan".[137] In March 2009, Ice participated in a Virgin Mobile advertising campaign titled "Right Music Wrongs", apologizing for his 1990s image.[138] As part of the campaign, Ice was placed on "trial", and was voted innocent by users of the campaign website.[139] He also appeared in a commercial for the South African light beer Castle Lite.[9] In 2010, Vanilla Ice was featured on the debut single of the Irish duo Jedward, a mashup of "Under Pressure" and "Ice Ice Baby". "Under Pressure (Ice Ice Baby)" was released in the United Kingdom on January 31, 2010, via download and as a physical single on February 15, 2010.[140] In 2010, Serbian musicians Slađa Delibašić and Shwarz released the single and music video Dizel Power. The music video and song feature various references to Vanilla Ice, including the performers dancing next to a graffiti mural of Ice. The video has reached two million views on YouTube.[141]

After signing with Psychopathic Records, Violent J mentioned that Insane Clown Posse were longtime fans of Ice's work; "We were bumping him way before "Ice Ice Baby" blew up. We were bumping him when he had his first record out on Ichiban. Shaggy had the vinyl and we used to bump that shit up in his room. It felt like two summers before that shit blew up."[142] "Thanda Thanda Pani" (Cold Cold Water) by Baba Sehgal was inspired heavily by Vanilla Ice's music and style. Rapper Riff Raff has mentioned in interviews that Vanilla Ice was one of his biggest influence.[143]

Eminem has often name-dropped Vanilla Ice in his songs. Starting during taped freestyles he did with rapper Proof in 1992 where they performed against each other portraying Ice and MC Hammer, respectively. In his first single "Just Don't Give a Fuck", Eminem mentions Ice alongside Everlast, boasting in a playful manner that he is a better rapper. In "Role Model", Eminem says he ripped out Vanilla Ice's dreadlocks. Ice responded to in a magazine interview with Vibe saying that Eminem "raps like a girl".[144] While Vanilla Ice and Eminem neither look at their responses as an actual beef, Eminem did reply to the quote in his song "Marshall Mathers" which also featured a verbal attack on the Insane Clown Posse. Eminem mentioned Ice again in the song "Purple Pills" in 2001, which caused Vanilla Ice's only response in song. On his album Bi-Polar, Ice mentions Eminem in a positive light ("Hip Hop Rules") and in a negative light ("Exhale"), however, Ice stated that he has no bad feelings towards Eminem. In a 2002 interview, Vanilla Ice stated that he thought Eminem's references were flattering, going on to say "I give him credit, I think he's talented, I think he's a killer rapper, you know I don't compare myself to him because he's another white rapper, I don't compare myself to any other rapper period, I don't colorize hip hop, it's stupid, but for people who are doing that are just looking through the eyes of a racial standpoint, and it really shouldn't be looked at that way, you're looking at two musicians that are in a broad brand of hip hop, so you don't need to compare us two. Following me, any white rapper is going to have to hear 'oh, you think you're Vanilla Ice?', so I am sure he's heard that."[145] In April 2009, Ice appeared in the music video for Eminem's song "We Made You".[146]

Band members

  • DJ Dirty Chopstix – turntables
  • Kool Keith – drums
  • Krazy Klown – dancer and background vocals
  • Maniac – dancer
  • Earthquake (1987–2014) – turntables and background vocals
  • DJ Don't Play (1985–2009) – turntables and background vocals
  • Zero (1985–2014) – turntables and background vocals
  • D-Shay (1985–1991) – turntables and drums
  • Clint Barlow[147] – drums (2004–2011)
  • Tha Hit Man (1997–2005) – drums
  • Boom (1990–1995) – drums
  • Bobzilla (2000–2004) – bass
  • Doug Ardito (1998–2001) – bass
  • Scott G. Shriner (1997–1999) – bass
  • 2Hype / Rod-J (1991–2004) – Hype Man and background vocals
  • Chill (1992–1994) – Hype Man and background vocals
  • Hi-Tec (1985–1995) – dancer and background vocals
  • Koko (1985–2010) – dancer and background vocals
  • Squirrel (1985–1995) – dancer and background vocals
  • Twist (1987–1993) – dancer and background vocals
  • E-Rock (1987–1991) – dancer and background vocals
  • Juice (1989–1991) – dancer and background vocals
  • Ste~bo (1990–1992) – dancer and background vocals


Studio albums

  • Hooked (1989)
  • To the Extreme (1990)
  • Mind Blowin' (1994)
  • Hard to Swallow (1998)
  • Bi-Polar (2001)
  • Platinum Underground (2005)
  • W.T.F. (Wisdom, Tenacity and Focus) (2011)


Year Film Role Other notes
1991 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze Himself Film debut
Cool as Ice John 'Johnny' Van Owen Golden Raspberry Award for Worst New Star
Nominated—Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actor
Nominated—Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Original Song
2000 Da Hip Hop Witch Himself
2002 The New Guy Seth – Music Store Employee
2005 The Helix...Loaded Theo
2006 Vanilla Ice
2010 Big Money Rustlas Heckler
The Vanilla Ice Project Host
2012 That's My Boy Himself Nominated—Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actor
2013 Vanilla Ice Goes Amish[148] Himself TV series
2015 The Ridiculous 6 Mark Twain
2016 Brother Vs. Brother Himself Celebrity judge during Season 4
Dancing with the Stars Himself Contestant on season 23
2017 Sandy Wexler Himself
2020 The Wrong Missy Himself

Awards and nominations

American Music Awards

Year Nominated work Award Result
1991 Vanilla Ice Favorite Pop/Rock New Artist Won
Vanilla Ice Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Artist Nominated
To the Extreme Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Album Nominated
Vanilla Ice Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop New Artist Won

Grammy Awards

Year Nominated work Award Result
1991 "Ice Ice Baby" Best Rap Solo Performance Nominated

People's Choice Awards

Year Nominated work Award Result
1991 "Ice Ice Baby" Best New Song Won

The Factual Entertainment Awards

Year Nominated work Award Result
2011 "The Vanilla Ice Project" Best Home Show Won

Golden Raspberry Awards

Year Nominated work Award Result
1992 Vanilla Ice Worst New Star Won
Vanilla Ice Worst Actor Nominated
"Cool as Ice (Everybody Get Loose)" Worst Original Song Nominated
2013 Vanilla Ice Worst Supporting Actor Nominated


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Further reading

  • Krulik, Nancy E. (1991). M.C. Hammer and Vanilla Ice: The Hip-hop Never Stops. New York: Scholastic Inc. ISBN 0-590-44980-X.

External links

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