Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Vanilla Ice

I've always had a lurking urge to burst Kool-Aid man style through the door of a boardroom in the midst of heated negotiations and shout, "Stop! Collaborate and listen!" Unfortunately, some dreams will never be realized, and this action would likely brand me as clinically insane. For Robert Van Winkle, though, these words were his ticket to inexplicable 90s musical fame.

You may think that breakdancing with a side of big hair is not a major marketable skill, but perhaps its a matter of timing. That is, if someone happens to catch you breakdancing wearing your big hair at just the right moment, well who knows, maybe you can make a career of it. Throw in some alleged "rapping", and you've got yourself a brand.

Before Eminem, before 303, the original white rapper ("vanilla"-hued, if you will) was Vanilla Ice. In the late 80s and early 90s, hip hop was just emerging as a credible musical genre. It was still primarily a black phenomenon, as most cool things are before they are hijacked and subsequently beaten into boring submission by stuffy white people. Hip hop was new and edgy and indicative of all thing youth culture related, but it had yet to be fully packaged by music executives. At this point, notoriety and street cred were the major forces guiding the emerging hip hop culture. While Vanilla Ice was a serviceable* rapper, music moguls saw him as an outsider on the fringe of hip hop who could be sufficiently packaged for consumer enjoyment and their own rising stock.

Vanilla Ice was commodifiable, and music execs fully recognized the potential of breaking into the hip hop business. He even managed to unintentionally earn himself some notoriety by means of a scuffle with some of Suge Knight's associates, one of whom claimed to have written Ice, Ice, Baby. We all can see that the "Ice, Ice" in Ice, Ice baby refers to Mr. Vanilla himself, so it seems unlikely this would have been penned by anyone else. To be honest, take a good hard look at the lyrics and you'll see immediately that money could be the only possible explanation for the boldfaced lie; this wasn't exactly poetry we were dealing with here. Let's take a quick peek at what would become the first hip hop single to top the Billboard charts:

Yo, Vanilla, kick it one time Boy
Yo, VIP, Let's kick it!
Ice Ice Baby, Ice Ice Baby

Okay, off to a good start. Well, the use of that "yo" is questionable, but I'm going to let it slide.

All right stop, Collaborate and listen
Ice is back with my brand new invention

Who said rap isn't innovative? Before I heard this song, I had no clue whatsoever that the words "listen" and "invention" rhymed.

Something grabs a hold of me tightly
Flow like a harpoon daily and nightly

I'll concede this is a more respectable rhyme, but how many raps do you know of that reference harpoons? And/or their (that is, the harpoons') flowing tendencies? Is that some sort of misplaced weapon reference to build street credibility?

Will it ever stop? Yo! I don't know
Turn off the lights and I'll glow
To the extreme I rock a mic like a vandal
Light up a stage and watch me jump like a candle.

As the owner of many jumping candles, I particularly enjoyed this imagery. Later I was disappointed to learn that, like the Mexican jumping beans, this movement was a mere farce. At least I could always watch Vanilla Ice and his graffiti stylings on a nearby sound-enhancement device.

Dance, go rush the speaker that booms
I'm killing your brain like a poisonous mushroom
Deadly, when I play a dope melody
Anything less than the best is a felony

I didn't realize how much I yearned for someone's ABAB rhyme scheme to kill my brain until Vanilla kindly illuminated the point. I imagine that lame "felony" reference is an attempt to badassify his lyrics.

Love it or leave it, You better gain way
You better hit bull's eye, The kid don't play
If there was a problem, Yo, I'll solve it
Check out the hook while my DJ revolves it

This doesn't make that much sense, but at least in this case it does rhyme. Also, the hook he refers to was sampled from earlier favorites such a David Bowie and Queen. So yes, Vanilla, I will check it out. I appreciate the suggestion.

Vanilla Ice Ice Baby, Vanilla Ice Ice Baby
Vanilla Ice Ice Baby, Vanilla Ice Ice Baby

This was when the best breakdancing took place, just in case you're considering choreographing your own version.

Now that the party is jumping
With the bass kicked in and the Vegas are pumpin'

Quick to the point, to the point no faking
Cooking MCs like a pound of bacon

Nothing says "street" like referencing a good old fashioned home cooked breakfast.

Burnin' 'em if you aint quick and nimble
I go crazy when I hear a cymbal
And a hi hat with a souped up tempo

I'm on a roll, it's time to go solo
Rollin' in my 5.0
With my rag top down so my hair can blow
The girlies on standby, Waving just to say Hi
Did you stop? No -- I just drove by
Kept on pursuing to the next stop
I busted a left and I'm heading to the next block
That block was dead

Thank, Vanil, for the play by play. I, too, go crazy when I hear a cymbal. Traumatic wind-up monkey incident as a child. It's still tough to talk about.

Yo -- so I continued to A1A Beachfront Avenue
Girls were hot wearing less than bikinis

Less than bikinis...could we be a little more descriptive? That's like saying, they were wearing more than nothing. I'm a visual learner, dammit, give me some adequate cues here.

Rockman lovers driving Lamborghinis
Jealous 'cause I'm out getting mine
Shay with a gauge and Vanilla with a nine
Ready for the chumps on the wall
The chumps acting I'll because they're full of Eight Balls
Gunshots ranged out like a bell
I grabbed my nine -- All I heard were shells

Falling on the concrete real fast
Jumped in my car, slammed on the gas
Bumper to bumper the avenue's packed
I'm trying to get away before the jackers jack
Police on the scene, You know what I mean
They passed me up, for runnin' on the dope beans

If there was a problem, Yo, I'll solve it
Check out the hook while my DJ revolves it

Okay, so here's the drive-by part. What I'm wondering though is why police came to the scene? Didn't you hear? If there was a problem, Vanilla would solve it.

Vanilla Ice Ice Baby, Vanilla Ice Ice Baby
Vanilla Ice Ice Baby, Vanilla Ice Ice Baby

Take heed, 'cause I'm a lyrical poet
Miami's on the scene just in case you didn't know it
My town, that created all the bass sound
Enough to shake and kick holes in the ground
'Cause my style's like a chemical spill
Feasible rhymes that you can vision and feel

I often brag about my best traits by illustrating their close likeness to chemical spills. It's a major selling point. Try it at your next interview.

Conducted and formed, This is a hell of a concept
We make it hype and you want to step with this
Shay plays on the fade, slice like a ninja
Cut like a razor blade so fast, Other DJs say, "damn"
If my rhyme was a drug, I'd sell it by the gram
Keep my composure when it's time to get loose
Magnetized by the mic while I kick my juice
If there was a problem, Yo -- I'll solve it!

Check out the hook while DJ revolves it.

I'm a bit concerned about being magnetized by the mic. After all, I had this recorded off the radio on cassette tape, a magnetic force of that magnitude would straight up erase it.

Vanilla Ice Ice Baby, Vanilla Ice Ice Baby
Vanilla Ice Ice Baby, Vanilla Ice Ice Baby Vanilla Ice

Yo man -- Let's get out of here! Word to your mother!

AHA! So that's where we got that. Touché, Vanilla.

Ice Ice Baby Too cold, Ice Ice Baby Too cold Too cold
Ice Ice Baby Too cold Too cold, Ice Ice Baby Too cold Too cold

I do like the inclusion of the informative temperature gauge here. It really speaks to my inner meteorologist.

For your viewing pleasure, Ice, Ice, Baby:

He still had a few good years before fading into obscurity, putting out records no one's ever heard of and appearing in shame-inducing reality shows. There was also Cool as Ice, a movie that was sort of like Rebel without a Cause only distinctly more terrible. If its any indication of complete lack of quality, the movie's score on composite review site Rotten Tomatoes is a whopping 8%. It was posthumously (I use that word largely in reference to the death of Vanilla's career) disowned by the director, which isn't quite the positive retrospection one could hope for. If nothing else, the movie did leave us with an outstanding pickup line:

"Drop that zero, and get with a hero!"

Of course, this is a gross oversimplification. Vanilla Ice did a lot more than just sing "Ice, Ice, Baby" and appear in a god-awful film people will someday with disdain unfairly refer to as a "period piece". He's 41 years old, certainly he's put out something else we would have heard of.

Oh, yeah. This:

*For the time, people. Standards have changed.


Badass Geek said...

What a hack he was. Oh, how times change.

Andhari said...

He's ridikkkkk. LOL. In his way, he is a LEGEND. :p

Katie said...

I loved Vanilla Ice!

ALN said...

I can't get enough of his clothing...why don't they make stuff like that anymore?

Sadako said...

My personal favorite was in the Ninja turtle movie, too! :)

Cee said...

My boss just met Vanilla Ice at bar in Baltimore, apparently he does apperances. She said he was pretty cheesy in real life too!

Kimberly said...

Hell yes...mock/scoff if you will...he was the thing back in the day.

Little Ms Blogger said...

I love the fact that he had to hide his true identity to sell records.

I believe he came from $$$ and that doesn't cut it when trying to create a street persona.

SassyLittleGinger said...

me and my brother had the ninja turtle movie with the "ninja rap" music video at the end, and eventually that part of the tape was completely demolished because we rewound and played it so much. i still love it.

Hanako66 said...

ha! this post is hilarious

I danced to ice ice baby in my 4th or 5th grade talent show.

marathoner81 said...

I was crazy about him in the 90's. Ice Ice Baby is one of my karaoke songs!!!

Anonymous said...

Go, ninja! Go, ninja, go!

Awesome Sara said...

is it just me but i think he's kinda cute. i'm downloading his song right now. i hate you children on of the 90s, i'm going to be humming this nonsense all night. ice ice baby

Trailer Fun Researcher said...

haha I lost my virginity listening to that song! oh 90's guess what I'm your 100th follower! too bad im the same as Mr Condescending, but it still counts!

Kellie said...

Did you see him on Surreal Life? Hilarious. My hubs actually DVR'd Cool As Ice the other month. It was on TV and he said he made his dad rent it w/ him back when it was new (and he was like 12) and his dad made fun of him for liking it. :)

Dani said...

OMG love Vanilla Ice...too bad he turned out to be a wife beater :(

Okie said...

awesome post. thanks. lol

Katie said...

Badassify is a great word. Thanks for making it up. And I've never actually read those lyrics before. There are only a few key lines of the song I know by heart (just enough to appear cool). I bet if you compared them to some of the current popular hip hop songs, you might be surprised at how intelligent they sound. Thanks for visiting my blog!

nikki said...

A guy at my husband's work got drunk at the office holiday party, took the DJ's mic and sang this whoooooole song. He never lived it down.

Also, is that Chandra Levy with Ice on the movie poster?

the girl in stiletto said...

oh my gawd!

Singing: "ice ice baby.... te ne net net te ne net.... ice ice baby... te ne net net te ne net"


i've an award for you :)

Red said...

As cheesy as he is, he came back to the Australia V festival this year and was LOVED!!

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