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Vanilla Ice

From Academic Kids

Robert Van Winkle (born October 31, 1968), better known as Vanilla Ice, is an American rapper, known today for the single "Ice Ice Baby" that topped the charts beginning in late 1990 (see 1990 in music). He was arguably the most successful rapper of his time, moving over 11-million copies of his album, but media over-exposure, poor career choices, as well as negative publicity from revelations about his past, led to his eventual dismissal by the public at large and an overall negative view of white rappers, notably within the hip-hop community, who viewed his (and other white performers) success in rap music as a continuation of the white mainstream's co-optation of traditionally African-American music.

Ice's success was marred fairly quickly after it was revealed that claims he had attended an all-black high school and led a crime riddled life were, in fact, disingenuous, and had been manufactured to lend his image street credibility; his flamboyant stage outfits and over-stylized grooming also eventually led to great ridicule. He had also faced legal problems, as "Ice Ice Baby" sampled the Queen and David Bowie collaboration "Under Pressure" without permission.

His ill-advised film debut came in the 1991 movie Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze, performing "The Ninja Rap." He also appeared in the 1991 star vehicle Cool as Ice. The film was both a commercial and critical failure. For his performance, Van Winkle won the "Worst New Star" award at the 1991 Golden Raspberry Awards. For the next several years, Ice kept a low public profile and became a motocross racer using his real name.

On July 4, 1994 Ice attempted suicide, and again later that same year.

Ice returned to music in 1994 (see 1994 in music) with Mind Blowin'. Ice was now reimaged as a dreadlocked, marijuana obsessed gangsta, insisting that his former sound and image had been pressed on him by his record company. Shifting public tastes in music and fashion, the perception that Ice had shifted his image to suit current trends, as well as the fallout from negative press in the interim between albums, led to the commercial failure of the album.

During this period, Van Winkle revealed in a television interview that he had been threatened by Marion "Suge" Knight, founder and CEO of Death Row Records, for royalties due to an associate who claimed he had, in fact, written "Ice Ice Baby." Ice claimed that he had been dangled over a hotel balcony by Knight until he agreed to sign over the royalties from the track; later, he altered his story, now insisting that the incident was nothing more than a non-violent formal business dispute, a story backed up by former manager Tommy Kwan.

It wasn't until 1997 that Ice made his next appearance (credited as "Rob Van Winkle"), on the track "Boom" by suburban Philadelphia rappers The Bloodhound Gang. The track's deep bass groove and Ice's uncharacteristic tough guy flow on the first verse led to a quasi-ironic underground revival in popularity, and the first new Vanilla Ice CD in four years.

Hard to Swallow (see 1998 in music) found Ice in a musically similar idiom to the track from the Bloodhound Gang, using a contemporarily popular nu metal sound his press kit referred to as "skate rock" that could be described as musically similar to early Limp Bizkit or Korn. Van Winkle once again revised his image, and was now a tow-headed, pierced, and tattooed headbanger. The disc also included a revamped version of "Ice Ice Baby," reimaged as a stomping heavy metal anthem.

His latest album was 2001's Bipolar, a two CD set, of which the first disc covers his recent nu metal material and the second a more contemporary hip-hop sound. It did little to rekindle public interest. It also marked his reunion with ex-manager Tommy Kwan, who was credited as executive producer on the album.

In 2004, Vanilla Ice starred in the second season of The Surreal Life on The WB. This brought some interest in him from the public, and a website (http://www.vanillaice.com) was launched. He was cast in the film The Helix...Loaded, a parody of The Matrix.

He currently lives in Port St. Lucie, Florida.

Vanilla Ice made a brief return to the newsreel when his pet wallaroo, Bucky, and pet goat, Pancho, escaped from his Port St. Lucie, Florida home. After wandering around local streets for over a week, the animals were caught, and returned to their rightful owner. Ice had to pay a $220 fine for expired pet tags, and an undisclosed fine for the escape of the animals.

Vanilla Ice also appeared in a provocative photo with Madonna in her book Sex.

Vanilla Ice appeared on a VH1 special entitled "Remaking Vanilla Ice", which featured the revamp Vanilla Ice underwent in preparation for his new album "Platinum Underground".

In June 2005, Vanilla Ice won the second round of NBC's hit TV show Hit Me Baby One More Time, performing "Ice Ice Baby" and covering Destiny's Child's hit "Survivor".

In August 2005, Vanilla Ice will be releasing his album Platinum Underground. There will be a remake of his smash hit "Ice Ice Baby" on this CD.

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