The first hip hop artist to top the Billboard charts, with his 1990 single, ‘Ice Ice Baby’, Vanilla Ice, real name Robert Van Winkle, is credited with helping to diversify hip hop, and introduce it to a more mainstream audience. Lisa had the chance to speak to Vanilla Ice ahead of the first date of the I Love The 90s Tour in the UK, at SSE Arena Wembley.
EP: Hello Rob!
VI: I was stretching! Stretching while I’m flashing…
EP: Now I was going to say, my first question was, you might not remember, but I’ve met you before, in Chatham in 2011.
VI: Peter Pan! Captain Hook!
EP: That’s right! And there were all these Jedward girls who were hanging out at the stage door every night and I came along once and gave you a kiss (deep sigh)!
VI: And you’ve never washed it off!
EP: Well I got home and I told my husband, “I kissed Vanilla Ice” and he said “you’re allowed to kiss him!” [VI: Alright!] I’m not allowed to kiss John and Edward…
VI: He gave you a pass!
EP: So anyway, at the end of this I’m going to ask for some updated selfies.
So you’re in the UK at the moment for the ‘I Love The 90s’ Tour, which starts tonight here at Wembley, and I’ve never been here before, what are you looking forward to most of all tonight, and the tour? Apart from talking to me, that’s probably the most important thing!
VI: You really want to know what I’m looking forward to? I’m looking forward to being the oldest teenager in town, enjoying life, and dancing! You know? It keeps you young, it makes you feel good, and it makes you remember the 90s and how great it was.
EP: Yup! They were, they were incredible!
VI: We’re going to be doing The Running Man, the Ninja Turtles…
EP: We’re going to be doing The Running Man tonight?
VI: Oh absolutely! Good times! [EP: well you can…] Go Ninja go!
EP: So I can’t interview you without mentioning ‘Ice Ice Baby’, and when it came out in 1990 it was the first hip hop single to make it onto the Billboard charts. How cool is that?
VI: Oh it’s incredible…
EP: You were a groundbreaker, a trailblazer…
VI: I look back on it and I’m like, wow this is amazing that all this has happened you know, but it goes to show, if you follow your dreams and you believe in yourself, and if you believe it you can achieve it. It’s amazing, I wrote that song when I was 16 years old, and I never could have imagined where my life was going when I was writing it, I love poetry, I was just writing poetry and putting it in the form of hip hop music because I was influenced by that. So when it was time for me to make music, I put it in the form of hip hop, and it’s still all poetry, I love it.
EP: Brilliant, hip hop is still poetry these days. So the song was ranked number 29 on VH1’s ‘100 Greatest Songs Of The 90s’ – that’s pretty amazing as well!
VI: Is it? I’ve no idea of the statistics! [EP: It’s all on your Wiki!] Yesterday’s history, tomorrow’s a mystery [EP: That’s true!] I live life day by day [EP: well it’s pretty good!] I lost my ego a long time ago…I just have fun, I just enjoy life, but that’s incredible!
EP: Yes it is incredible! Well done! [both laugh] But anyway, it got a massive boost over here when you collaborated with Jedward, and did the mash up of ‘Under Pressure/Ice Ice Baby’, and I’ve got to say this because all my girls back in Jedward land, they’re excited that I’m talking to you…
VI: Do you remember when I came with Jedward and I did a special appearance at the O2 Arena, and I popped up out of the stage on this elevator riser, and all this fire was going off, and Simon Cowell was sitting there [EP: was that the National Television Awards?] and we went boom! and we jumped up and did this big, magical performance…those kids are the funniest I’ve ever seen…they should be comedians…[EP: well they should be!] they are straight up the funniest twins I’ve ever met in my life, even when the cameras aren’t rolling…and they really can read each other’s minds…there’s some sort of weird twin thing going on there, they’re like telepath – and they can finish each other’s sentences, you noticed that? [EP: Yup! They can finish mine!] It’s like one person talking out of two! [EP: I think it’s a case of racing in to get to the next…] I love it! You know? I don’t take anything too serious so, people who are haters, or whatever, let people enjoy the entertainment side of Jedward! Ireland’s best!
EP: So you’ve done loads since then though, like you said, you’ve done ‘Dancing On Ice’…
VI: Torville And Dean! Incredible! Listen, I’m from Florida, we don’t have ice…it doesn’t snow there, it doesn’t even get cold there, and still probably to this day, I would assume, that I’m probably the only rapper that knows how to ice skate! Ice skating rapper! I never thought of that until now!
EP: Well there’s no call for it in Florida! How did you come up with ‘Ice Ice Baby’ in Florida in the first place anyway?
VI: It only fits right? It only fits, because I had a dance move, see I got my nickname from breakdance, spinning on my head and everything, and I had a move where I looked like I was on ice, and at first my name was Vanilla, and it wasn’t my choice, it was my friends making fun of me, cos I was kinda the only white kid breakdancing [EP: I was going to say…] and they’d go, “Hey Vanilla do that ice!” and I did that move called The Ice, and they said “Vanilla” “Ice”, and they just kept wanting me to do and I was like “Vanilla Ice” and I’d be like “Vanilla ice cream?? Stop calling me that!” [EP: This is an exclusive!] And now I love it! I hated it back then! [EP: Well this is it, you’re exclusive now!] I love it now!
EP: I was going to say about ‘The Vanilla Ice Project’. I follow you on Instagram, and I see you with all these programmes, and I love it [VI: Thank you very much!] you’re flipping houses – you’ve been doing that for ages haven’t you?
VI: 23 years! It’s amazing, yeah I love it! 8 seasons of the TV show!
EP: That’s incredible! Because you do all the DIY yourself don’t you? [VI: Absolutely!] You started out renovating houses…
VI: I started off renovating some smaller houses then I worked my way up to the medium sized, and now I’m doing the big glamorous, multi-million dollar Palm Beach mansions right by the ocean, so goes to show hard work does pay off [EP: It really does!] but I enjoy it! It’s a lot of fun, but you’ve got to be built for it, it’s tough!
You’re going to have some battle wounds and some scars, and a few stitches along the way you know, blood, sweat, teeth, tears… [EP: You’ve lost teeth doing this!] and you’ve got to go through the trenches to get to the other side! But it is a lot of a fun, it’s a passion. [EP: I was going to say, I’ve got it written down here, is it a passion…] You never expected it though. I hired these decorators, and they were expensive, and I kept writing these cheques, and what happened was when I first got famous and got the money, I went and bought a lot of houses, even here in England, in Twickenham by the stadium, I had houses everywhere, and I never used them, I never saw them, I thought I would, I went on tour for 3 or 4 years, and I thought, why did I buy these houses! I thought I was going to lose the money I spent on them, and it was millions, so I thought, oh let’s sell them. And I sold them, and I literally made millions of dollars, and I thought, “let’s go buy some more!” And then I started getting these distressed houses, and I started decorating them, and I hired the decorators, and I was writing these big cheques, and I was following them around… [EP: You got addicted to it didn’t you!] YES! I just fell into it and I found a passion, and I love it now. It’s so much fun.
EP: So do you think that’s more of a passion than music these days?
VI: These days? Yeah probably.
EP: You’re acting too!
VI: Yeah! I’m acting too, with Adam Sandler in ‘That’s My Boy’, and I did a movie called ‘The Ridiculous 6’, and then ‘Sandy Wexler’, and it’s just been a ball. What a great time! But now with this tour, The I Love The 90s Tour, I get to act like a teenager again and enjoy it, and stay in shape, and dance like I’m in a Zumba class! So much fun!
EP: I think they’re winding me up so one last question – What question do you wish someone would ask you in an interview, but no-one ever does?
VI: Oh really! I don’t know! “What is your purpose and your meaning?”
EP: Oh okay! So what is your purpose and your meaning!
VI: My purpose and my meaning is to have fun. It’s that simple. We keep it simple as a pimple. Get in where you fit in, yesterday’s history and tomorrow’s a mystery. Don’t take anything too serious, enjoy the now, enjoy the moment, we’re here for a short time, not a long time, make it a good time! Holla, pop ya collar! That’s the message! Booya! Drop the mic!
The I Love The 90s Tour continues across the UK and then moves to the US. The tour also includes fantastic artists from the 90s, including Grammy Award winners Salt-N-Pepa with DJ Spinderella, and Coolio, Tone Lōc, Color Me Badd, and many more. Get tickets and further information here.
Check out Vanilla Ice online on his official website.
*Extracts from ‘Ice Ice Baby’ used with permission from Tommy Quon, TQ Management Agency.