Vanilla Ice, Crooner

Nov 10th, 2008 // 19 Comments

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that this is a blog, and this is a post about Vanilla Ice, so you know where it’s going: The 5:10 express to snarkopolis. How wrong you are, o cynical reader! Yes, this post is about Vanilla Ice’s new album. And yes, the new album is a fairly horrible amalgam of pseudo-rave, pseudo-metal, pseudo-rap, and awful flow. But though Vanilla Ice may be once again doing something he probably shouldn’t–his rap-metal incursion, making Ron Jeremy look mature, pissing off Suge Knight–he is, at least, doing something new: a covers album. A rap covers album. Called Vanilla Ice is Back: Hip Hop Classics.

Before getting into the analysis, let’s dispense with the tracklist:

1. Ice Ice Baby – Vanilla Ice, VanWinkle, R.
2. You Dropped a Bomb on Me – Vanilla Ice, Leeson, M.
3. Fight the Power – Vanilla Ice, Boxley, J.
4. Jump Around – Vanilla Ice, Schrody, E.
5. Baby Got Back – Vanilla Ice, Ray, A.
6. You Gots to Chill – Vanilla Ice, Sermon, E.
7. I Got It Made – Vanilla Ice, Taylor, D.
8. Buffalo Soldier – Vanilla Ice, Williams, N.
9. Treat ‘Em Right – Vanilla Ice, Simpson, R.
10. Insane in the Brain – Vanilla Ice, Freese, L.
11. Ice Ice Baby [Rock Hero Mix] – Vanilla Ice, VanWinkle, R.
12. Ice Ice Baby [Club Crasher Mix] – Vanilla Ice, VanWinkle, R.
13. Ice Ice Baby – Vanilla Ice, VanWinkle, R.

I’m no expert in these matters, but as far as I know, no one has done a covers album like this before. Yes, there are albums of rap covers, but only done in different styles, like folk or indie. Mr. Van Winkle, however, is covering rap songs as a rapper, and that would seem to be something new.

What’s more interesting, though, is how it’s being framed. Check out the cover (above): that doesn’t look like a hip-hop album. In fact, the cover design is an homage to an Elvis album, as is the album’s title. Weird! But it makes sense, kinda. Leaving aside the Clash echoes, this album really does hearken back to an older style of music, one in which the singer mattered more than the song. Van Winkle is casting himself–hilariously, but still–in the mold of classic vocalists covering standards and newer hits by other artists. And sure, it seems ridiculous. But it’s not necessarily a bad idea in the abstract. Pop music is experiencing a glut of songs, and we can all think of great songs that just haven’t gotten the right exposure. Why not covers?

Of course, that’s pop, not rap, and for rap it maybe seems like less of a good idea, if only because no one’s done it before and the first person to really run with it is Vanilla Ice. But maybe it’ll be like a Nixon in China thing!

Vanilla Ice [MySpace]
Ice Is Back: Hip-Hop Classics [Amazon]


  1. natepatrin

    Ice doesn’t even have the pioneer thing going for him:


    But oh god, his version of “Buffalo Soldier” could have so much potential for complete and total pyrotechnical awfulness. It would be like the Manhattan Project of misguided covers.

  2. Chris N.

    Only four versions of “Ice Ice Baby”?

  3. Audif Jackson Winters III

    If only Ice had the vision to cover Duran Duran covering “911 Is A Joke.” Then this will truly be epic.

  4. Maura Johnston

    @Audif Jackson Winters III: not their ‘white lines’ cover?

  5. Audif Jackson Winters III

    @Maura Johnston: That’s bad, but it’s no:

  6. How do I say this ... THROWDINI!

    I’m guessing that listening to this album would be like inviting Vanilla Ice to do karaoke at your house. In which case, I’d be pissed that he took “Baby Got Back,” my go-to karaoke song. Thanks for nothing Van Winkle.

  7. Michaelangelo Matos

    maybe it’ll be like a Nixon in China thing


  8. Ned Raggett

    Nixon’s legendary performance of “That’s the Joint” in the Forbidden City, even more important than ping-pong diplomacy.

  9. Ned Raggett

    Vanilla Ice’s next reinterpretation:

  10. TheRunningboard7

    That’s awesome: 31% of his covers are himself. It’s like being too bad ass to compromise your cover artistic vision with influence from other artists.

    I’m in complete awe.

  11. Chris Molanphy

    @Audif Jackson Winters III: To continue the digression: I never understood why DD chose to follow up their legitimate early-’90s comeback — a best-selling album with two real, and respectable, pop hits — with a covers album. Covers albums smack of desperation, but at that point, career-wise, DD weren’t even desperate! Why, Simon, why?

  12. Cos

    “Treat Em Right”?


  13. Maura Johnston

    in the old days, vanilla’s hair would have been able to match elvis’ pompadourian heights. so sad.

  14. Christopher R. Weingarten

    @Maura Johnston: ” I’m no expert in these matters, but as far as I know, no one has done a covers album like this before. Yes, there are albums of rap covers, but only done in different styles, like folk or indie.”


  15. Christopher R. Weingarten

    i would post an image of the album cover but i don’t know how.

  16. dippinkind

    it is a kinda interesting concept, and could be even more interesting if an above par MC from 20 years ago were to try it (specifically, i’m thinking of Rakim)

  17. Michaelangelo Matos

    @Christopher R. Weingarten: see first response

  18. Mike Barthel

    @natepatrin: ah, I knew there was one. Thanks!

  19. Anonymous

    Don’t judge an album you haven’t heard.

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