Some people would want you to forget the horrific legacy of the American slave trade or deny the occurrence of the Holocaust. But none of these tragic catastrophes deserves to be subjected to historical revision. "Ice Ice Baby," however? That's a different story.
Robert "Vanilla Ice" Van Winkle wants you to forget "Ice Ice Baby" ever happened. At once a meal ticket and a cross to bear, the wonder that was Vanilla Ice's one hit has long since subsided and left in its wake the cultural hangover of a celebrity dilettante, an excruciatingly unforgiving hangover that has you squirting from both ends. The Iceman couldn't just quietly fade away into pop obscurity like Billy Ray Cyrus, El DeBarge, or Gunnar and Matthew Nelson. He had to keep trying to redefine and reinvent himself with one excruciatingly lame nu-metal/stoner-rap record after another, like some mildly retarded, trailer-park David Bowie.
On 2005's Platinum Underground, Van Winkle goes through the old butt-rock, thug rap motions yet again, trying to sound as hard and as relevant as possible. This is exceptionally difficult on songs such as "Trailer Park Mullet Wars" and "Ninja Rap 2" (the eagerly awaited companion piece to his 1991 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles anthem). Some of the album's production is actually not half bad, but Van Winkle's Cro-Magnon posturing, paper-thin delivery and 3rd-grade vocabulary are all not good. It may be underground, but it is so in the sense that Insane Clown Posse, bumper stickers depicting Calvin urinating on a Chevy logo and televised professional wrestling are "underground." That is, wildly popular amongst throngs of undereducated mouth-breathers and welfare-system abusers, if largely ignored by those of us with an even rudimentary level of intellect.
Vanilla Ice performs Saturday, October 14, at Firewater.
Whether he's getting rich from stealing a recognizable bass hook from Queen, fabricating stories about running with street gangs or physically assaulting his baby-mama, Vanilla Ice's epic journey is a truly American experience. Only the greatest free nation on the planet could transform such an untalented, boorish man-child into a mega superstar, discard him for a number of years thereafter to make regrettably unsuccessful suicide attempts and wallow in his own filth, only to then be resurrected for further amusement as a "has-been celebrity," wherein one is famous simply for having been famous once before (see: Gary Coleman, Mr. T, Danny Bonaduce, etc.), a cultural status that is as uniquely American as baseball, Mom, apple pie and hosing down naked, sleep-deprived enemy combatants with ice-cold water.
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So why can't we just let sleeping wiggas lie? Because those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. Somebody bought 11 million copies of "Ice Ice,Baby" and nominated it for a Grammy. Can we really afford to let that happen again? As a consumer-based society, we as a nation are mutually responsible for Vanilla Ice and his continued aural atrocities. It is our responsibility to secure and insure the future of popular music, if not for our own sake, then for the sake of our children, our children's children and our children's children's children. As for our children's children's children's children, those fuckers are fucked.