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Vanilla Ice is a rapper and TV reality show personality whose song "Ice Ice Baby" put him on the map in 1990.
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Rapper, singer, songwriter, athlete, and actor. Born Robert Van Winkle on October 31, 1967 (some sources say 1968), in Miami, Florida. During his meteoric rise to fame in the early 1990s, Vanilla Ice became the first white rapper to top the pop singles chart with his hit, "Ice Ice Baby." He quickly fell from favor, however, and has spent years reinventing himself and his sound.
The son of a music teacher, Vanilla Ice grew up in South Florida and Texas. Music, however, was not his first passion. Around the age of 8, Vanilla Ice began participating in motocross races. He also became interested in break-dancing in his early teens. He attended R. L. Turner High School in Carrollton, Texas, but he left before graduation.
At first, Vanilla Ice was better known for his dance moves. "Everybody knew him for his feet. He would demolish other dancers," Earthquake (Floyd Brown), one of the songwriters that worked with Vanilla Ice, explained to The New York Times. He frequented a Dallas nightclub called City Lights, which had a largely African-American clientele. There Vanilla Ice caught the attention of the club's owner, Tommy Quon, who became his manager.
In 1989, Vanilla Ice released his first album, Hooked, which featured a song called "Ice Ice Baby." This catchy rap used the bass line from David Bowie and Queen's hit single, "Under Pressure." After a Georgia radio station started playing the song, interest in Vanilla Ice grew, and he landed a deal with SBK Records. "Ice Ice Baby" then appeared on his first record for SBK, 1990's To the Extreme, and both the single and the album reached the top of charts later that year. He toured with another popular rap performer, M. C. Hammer, around this time.
Before long, Vanilla Ice became a pop idol, with his likeness on a variety of products. He made a cameo appearance in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: Secret of the Ooze (1991). That same year his second single, "Play that Funky Music," reached the number four spot on the pop charts. The song borrowed its title and some of its content from Wild Cherry's 1976 hit. After spending 16 weeks at the top of the album charts, To the Extreme sold more than seven million copies.
During interviews and in his official biography, Ice by Ice (1991), Vanilla Ice discussed his difficult youth and his time on streets. He also indicated that he had won numerous motocross events as well. As the press investigated these stories, it turned out that many of these claims were exaggerations of the facts, or completely false.
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