90s commercial rap icon Robert Van Winkle took the world by storm with his mega hit "Ice Ice baby".
Vanilla Ice, or Robert Matthew van Winkle as he is known on his birth certificate, is the Texan rapper who reached international fame with his hit Ice Ice Baby, the first hip-hop track to reach the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the US. He started off his career break-dancing with other kids from his neighbourhood, and got his nickname because he was the only non-African American out of all his mates.
Eventually, break-dancing led to rapping, and he was given a residency at a Dallas nightclub with his break-dancing posse, V.I.P (Vanilla Ice Posse), who accompanied him on stage every weekend. Winkle wrote Ice Ice Baby at the age of sixteen and his lyrical talent as well as his stage presence led to a record deal and debut album titled To The Extreme. Ice Ice Baby was released as the B-Side to his first single but proved to be more popular than the A-Side, so the man-of-the-hour was sent on tour with the most important figures in hip-hop, and asked to make a video which caused waves on the national charts.
In 1990 Vanilla Ice signed with record label SBK, whose label boss stated that he began receiving up to two hundred phone calls a day about Ice Ice Baby almost instantly. Van Winkle also began expanding his career with live performances on the hit late-night TV show Saturday Night Live, which reached audiences of millions as well as a brief stint as an actor in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
His long-spanning career showcases over a handful of albums such as Extremely Live, Mind Blowin, Hard To Swallow, Bi-Polar, Hot Sex and Platinum Underground. Each album depicts an evolution in Winkle’s musical range as he moves from genre to genre producing extremely elaborate and successful singles.
After this peak in his career, he decided to take a slightly different direction with his music, opting for a more rock-based sound rather than continuing with the rapping that made him famous in the first place. After 2000, he began recording independently and in so created a new following of fans completely separate from his more mainstream legions.
Most recently, he signed a new record deal with Sony/Red Distribution to release his sixth studio album, aptly titled Wisdom, Tenacity, and Focus (or WTF). This release ushered a new era of Vanilla Ice, showcasing an even further diversified musical exploration as he dabbles with every genre from hardcore and punk to ska and techno.
Stay tuned, because Vanilla is back and this time he’s so much cooler than ice.