Vanilla Ice talks about player haters, his pet kangaroo and what he'd do to his mother for a million dollars.
Jan 3, 2002 | After Vanilla Ice sold 7 million copies of his debut album in 1990, the white rapper formerly known as Robert Van Winkle quickly found himself a cultural whipping boy. In an era of steeled hip-hop produced by serious, hardened outfits like Public Enemy and NWA, Vanilla Ice wore ridiculous glitter pants, opened for MC Hammer and even falsely claimed that he had been stabbed five times in gang fights. People were playa hatin' Vanilla before the phrase even existed.
Only two things matter in the rap game: street cred and money. Vanilla Ice had none of the former. But even a run-in with Death Row records impresario Suge Knight that Ice says cost him $180 million couldn't stop him from holding onto his money. He managed to stay flush even when he could no longer sell the public on his soft-serve rhymes, bleach-blond pompadour and Liberace get-ups.
In 1998, Ice stepped into the nu metal arena and released "Hard to Swallow." He is currently touring in support of "Bi-Polar," an album with eight nu metal tracks and 16 rap tracks that mark his return to rhymes.
Ice is now married with two children. He believes that Jesus Christ is his personal savior. Despite his multiple attempts to recreate himself as a real musician and crack his cold-as-ice rep, he's still a punchline, especially in the hip-hop world.
A perplexed generation that can't get "Ice Ice Baby" out of its head demands answers. I recently talked with Ice about his new gig as a nu metal frontman, the "Ice Ice Baby" era, his pet kangaroo Bucky and those wack haircuts he used to have.
You remember the haircuts, don't you?
First things first. On your new album, "Bi-Polar," you're billed as V-Ice. What's up with the name change?
No, get that straight. It's still Vanilla Ice. I guess they just put it short on the record and people are asking me that question and it's funny because there's no name change. I'm proud of it and I'm not trying to run from anything or hide from anything. You think of Prince who changed his name, it's like, who gives a fuck? He didn't change his name. He made it a symbol. He didn't even have a name.
How did you come to be called Vanilla Ice in the first place?
Back when I was 13 or 14 I used to spin on my head on cardboard and break dance, and I had a bunch of black friends and they just labeled me Vanilla Ice. Actually, I didn't like it, so they just called me it more. It just stuck with me like a nickname.
So let's talk about "Bi-Polar." Why a nu metal album and a rap album on the same disc?
My main focus is on the rock stuff just because of everything I've been through. Music is about reflection. I get more energy from it. But I still love hip-hop and I did it to show people I'm still true to hip-hop. A lot of people today are influenced by both. They might listen to Nirvana and Pearl Jam but still listen to Wu Tang and Busta Rhymes. I did it to show people I know where my roots are and I haven't left it behind, so for you guys, here's some hip-hop. But my main focus is the band.
What made you decide that being a nu metal frontman was for you?
There wasn't much thought behind it. It was the intensity of the lyrics I was writing. There was absolutely no way I was going to go scream over some break beat or some fucking computer to match the intensity that I'm wantin' to deliver. There was no way it was going to get done without the band. I'm enjoyin' myself now for the first time ever. It's hard to understand that, you sell 17 million records it sounds like it's great and gravy and shit, but I didn't enjoy it too much, man. Anyone who hates on Vanilla Ice would have done the same fucking thing, so they can't hate on me. They told me, we want you to wear these baggy pants because the young kids like it because the young kids like it and it's all glittery and polished and everything, and I said, "Fuck no, I'm not wearin' this gay-ass shit," and they said, "Well here's a million dollars, man, will you do it?" And I said, "Fuck yes." And anybody would have done the same thing if they were given the same chance. I'd lick my mother's asshole for a million dollars.
As you say in "Hip Hop Rules," "I went 17 platinum/amazing." How high are you going to take it this time around?
I don't set any goals for myself. I always expect the unexpected, man. I'm still getting beyond that stigma and shit. I've faced my adversities and I'm catering to the ones who appreciate what I'm doing, and there are a shitload of them out there. I have a very loyal fan base, similar to Insane Clown Posse's fan base, a lot of young kids 15 to 19, body-piercing tattooed kids who are very aware of "Ice Ice Baby" and the whole player hatin' thing or whatever and they're very into what I'm doing now. And I'm very appreciative of that. I'm not like a Korn or Limp Bizkit who comes out hardcore and goes mainstream. I'm like the guy who went backwards. I started off mainstream and now I'm into the hardcore shit. It's not about the money or anything for me. I just enjoy making my music and to have people appreciate it is my award.
How much do you bench?
Fuck dude, I haven't bench-pressed since high school.