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Vanilla Ice

Hard To Swallow  Hear it Now

RS: 2of 5 Stars Average User Rating: 3.5of 5 Stars

1998

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Forget the truth: it's the music industry that's stranger than fiction. Example? How about a new Vanilla Ice record produced by Ross Robinson? That's right, the pale-skinned rapper who brought us "Ice Ice Baby" and the show-stopping "Ninja Rap," from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze, backed by the studio overseer of Korn and Limp Bizkit. It could be the unholiest alliance since Pat Boone started covering Metallica. And here's the freakiest thing: It isn't half-bad.

To be sure, this is no longer the pompadoured rapper your younger sister loved on 1990's To the Extreme. This is a pissed-off Ice, who screams, curses, bellows, howls and curses again. His newfound gravelly voice does some dance-hall riffing on "Living." On "Scars" he rages against his messed-up childhood; on "F--k Me" he lashes out at music critics, record companies and, yes, even himself.

Except for that, Ice doesn't have much to say. Thankfully, when the lyrical lulls arrive – and there are plenty – Robinson and crew are usually there to save the day. There's the guitar-drum interplay on "Zig Zag Stories," the metal funk of "S.N.A.F.U." and even a thrash reinterpretation of "Ice Ice Baby" on "Too Cold." Nothing, however, can redeem Ice's wack boasting on songs like "Prozac." The best assessment of Hard to Swallow comes from the man himself on the tune "A.D.D.," when he says, "I just can't hide from myself." (RS 800)


RICHARD TORRES





(Posted: Nov 13, 1998)

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