Vanilla Ice (Rob Van Winkle) was just another white kid from the Dallas suburbs in 1990, when his “Ice Ice Baby” became the first rap single to hit number one on Billboard’s pop singles chart. Back in his heyday, the peroxided crossover sensation could boast of multi-platinum record sales and dating Madonna. His career began to sputter when his ghetto past was revealed to be a sham: He hadn’t grown up in Miami, dodging switchblades in the ‘hood, but in white-bread Carrollton, break-dancing at the mall. Then in 1994 his second release, Mind Blowin’, was a critical and commercial washout. That year Van Winkle found religion after overdosing on drugs. In a stylistic about-face, he started a grunge band called Picking Scabs and in 1998 released a heavy-metal album—but critics agreed with its title: Hard to Swallow. The following year, during an MTV special on the 25 worst videos of all time, Van Winkle took a baseball bat to a videotape of “Ice Ice Baby”—as was scripted—and then to the rest of the set, while the cast and crew watched in stunned silence. In January he was arrested in Florida after a domestic dispute with his wife. When he’s in Texas, the 32-year-old once-world-famous rapper now plays clubs in towns like Port Arthur and Odessa.
From the September 2001 Issue Subscribe