For most musicians, navigating the beginning of national exposure is the most challenging aspect of becoming a celebrity. But for rapper turned reality TV spawn Vanilla Ice, aka Robert Van Winkle, being shunned out of the spotlight is the part of the process he can’t handle. After dominating the early ‘90s by becoming the first white rapper to top the pop singles chart with “Ice Ice Baby,” he may now find himself in jail after stealing random furniture, pool heaters and yes, bicycles from an abandoned home. I wish I was making that up.
Now you can find Vanilla Ice hosting his reality TV show The Vanilla Ice Project on the DIY channel, where he has been renovating and flipping homes since 2010. According to his show biography on DIY: “Pop icon and knock-out home renovator Vanilla Ice ditches his high tech power tools and moves to Amish country to learn the lost art of hand craftsmanship.” I’m at a loss of words after reading that to be honest. It’s also the reason why he might end up in jail—the odd assortment of furniture he stole was from a neighboring house next to his renovation project for the DIY show.
But I guess that’s what happens after you get caught publicly lying about your childhood, have a string of failed spots on reality TV shows, are accused of assault and have been arrested multiple times, all after becoming an easy millionaire at 22. And even when he was in his prime, critics accused his lyrics and music of lacking creativity and originality. While “Ice Ice Baby” and pop-like rap songs songs from MC Hammer dominated the radio, rap groups like Public Enemy struggled for recognition (even though, ironically, Vanilla Ice opened for Public Enemy at one point in time.) So lately the only thing Vanilla Ice is remembered for is his failed attempts at becoming relevant again and how his '90s style might be making a come back in hip hop. I think that jacket needs to stay locked in the '90s for the record, GQ.
Is it Vanilla Ice’s fault for creating a pop hit that the radio still plays over and over? No. Was it his fault he didn’t step back when the time came? Probably. But who can blame him and other young stars who rose to fame in the blink of an eye? It’s yet another story of a young overnight celebrity who can’t understand why they aren’t popular anymore so they cling to whatever is easiest and directly in front of them. So Vanilla Ice, it’s time to settle down and get a job. Like a real one.
Nicole Theodore is an editorial assistant at Playboy.com. Her rap name may or may not be Young Theo.