It’s understandable why Robert Van Winkle chose not to use his real name when embarking upon a career in Rap music.
A white rapper was a laughable enough concept at the beginning of the 1990s. But one with a name that made him sound like a Dutch investment banker was never going to be taken seriously . . .
Vanilla Ice was a clever choice of name. He was white (hence ‘Vanilla’) and he thought he was cool (hence ‘Ice’). And every time he started “rocking the mic like a vandal” people screamed with laughter.
A Mr Whippy hairdo completed the package . . .
Robert’s main problem wasn’t his name. Nor his laughable sense of style. It was simply the fact that nobody believed he was the rough and tough punk from the street that he made himself out to be.
The only caps he popped were the ones in his cowboy gun when he was playing wigwams with the next-door neighbours’ kids. Even New Kids On The Block would have written off Vanilla Ice for being too middle class and lame.
He also invited trouble by “borrowing” other people’s music. His major hit Ice Ice Baby (1990) used elements from Under Pressure – the Queen and David Bowie collaboration – but the silly sausage forgot to ask for permission.
Another single plagiarised Play That Funky Music but it slipped his mind to acknowledge the original songwriter, which led to legal problems, and sales dried up for Vanilla Ice.
He attempted a comeback in 1994, smoking blunts and grabbing his crotch – but stories (which he has since both confirmed and denied) that he signed a tranche of Ice Ice Baby royalties over to Death Row records boss Marion ‘Suge’ Knight, shortly after being dangled from a hotel balcony by his ankles, only confirmed many people’s view that he was out of his depth in a world determined to reject him.