It was August 22nd, 1990. Iraq had recently invaded Kuwait and it looked as if America was headed for its first major war in the Middle East. That warm summer day got a bit hotter when a white kid named Vanilla Ice dropped a rap track called “Ice Ice Baby”. It changed the world of rap that was once reserved only for actual rappers and kids from the streets.
Vanilla Ice changed the genre, proving that even white kids can become successful in dropping a dope hook.
The song was released as the B-Side on the rapper’s Play That Funky Music single. For those of you too young to remember records or too old to have been part of today’s Gen-Z record revival the B-side is the song you throw on a 7″ record for a song you want to release. Sometimes, the b-side songs become more popular than the artist’s intention of promoting the a-side song.
The song became the first hip-hop single to break into the Billboard Hot 100 and reach the top. Yes, times were different back then. Rap wasn’t as widely accepted and it was during the period of ‘gangster rap’, which quite frankly scared the white people who didn’t secretly listen to it at the time.
You had NWA, Ice Cube, Public Enemy, Dr. Dre, and Eazy-E who were at what they thought at the time, the heights of their careers. Once rap became mainstreamed, their popularity skyrocketed, and many credit Vanilla Ice for opening up a whole new audience.
It was Robert Van Winkle, aka Vanilla Ice who has been credited for opening that door.
Today, 31 years later, Van Winkle reportedly earns about $300,000 to $400,000 in royalties from the song.
The song was not without controversy. Van Winkle sampled music from the Queen and David Bowie track “under pressure”. He never paid the two rock legends royalties. He even went as far as saying his track had an extra beat, which it didn’t. He later admitted he sampled their track and said he was joking about the extra beat. Under threat of a lawsuit, Van Winkle eventually settled with Freddie Mercury and David Bowie, even adding their names to the song’s credits.
Van Winkle’s rise to the top wasn’t easy. He was shunned by the hip-hop crowd after mainstreaming the genre. Even a young Marshall Mathers, also known as Eminem, who was just 18-years-old at the time said he wanted to quit rap knowing he may have to walk in the shadows of Vanilla Ice.
“I felt like I didn’t want to rap anymore. I was so mad because he was making it real hard for me,” he said.
The two artists engaged in a feud, sparked by Eminem, but Vanilla Ice thanked him for being a fan and said he paved the way for Eminem to become a star. At one p
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