User avatarFour Word Reviews: To The Extreme

Everybody knows “Ice Ice Baby” by Vanilla Ice. It’s a cheesy old 90s rap song with stupid lyrics. While we can all laugh at it and perhaps in some contexts even enjoy it, Vanilla Ice himself and his music were hated by an awful lot of people at the time. Genuine rap fans hated him because he was the product of a record company, just some guy who was recruited to become a white rap star. Queen and Bowie fans hated him because he changed the bassline to “Under Pressure” so that he didn’t have to pay them royalties for sampling it on his biggest hit. He had no credibility. For those reasons, and a whole lot more, I wasn’t looking forward to listening through the entirety of his debut album, 1990’s To The Extreme.

To The Extreme

Let’s get straight to it, then: there’s nothing here to like. It’s just awful. This CD arrived in the post a while ago, a gift from a Beans member unknown, and I can safely say that this is the worst thing anyone has ever given to me. It is beyond worthless. The music itself is pretty poor, the lyrics are atrocious – you can tell they’re written by committee in a record company’s meeting room, ticking off a list of phrases young people and rappers say until they’ve all been shoehorned in one by one – but worst of all is the actual rapping. You can’t believe for a second that this nice middle class white guy wrote it or had ever lived the sort of life he’s talking about, and he would certainly never have said phrases like “you kno’ I’m sayin'” or “yo, you insane”.

Here are some phrases from the songs on this album:

  • “You can call me dad”
  • “Let me tell you how it is makin’ love on an inner tube”
  • “People under forty, yo, let’s get down”

Let’s see the damage, track by track.

Track Title Word 1 Word 2 Word 3 Word 4
1 Ice Ice Baby Fake gangsta rap classic
2 Yo Vanilla Five seconds of terrible
3 Stop That Train Mysogyny with bee-bop sample
4 Hooked Synth sax, unconvincing accent
5 Ice is Workin’ It Unclear what Ice worked
6 Life is a Fantasy It thinks it’s sexy
7 Play That Funky Music About race, mentions Nazis
8 Dancin’ Nauseating use of stereo
9 Go Ill Mostly tuned it out
10 It’s a Party Sampled women shouting “yeah”
11 Juice to Get Loose Boy Stupid high pitched interlude
12 Ice Cold Every eighties sample ever
13 Rosta Man Actually offensive Jamaican accent
14 I Love You Breathy, creepy, genuinely distressing
15 Havin’ a Roni Beatboxing disaster, mercifully short

Almost all the songs on the album are really long – proper five minuters – and a lot of them drag it out with stupid samples and repeated choruses. Tracks 6 and 14 both think they’re sexy and seductive, but they’re both creepy and actually quite repulsive, like Vanilla Ice’s tongue is coming out of your speakers and trying to lick your ear. “I Love You” comes complete with a fake telephone call where he tells his girlfriend how much he loves her. Track 7 is all about how he’s a white man making black music – so there is some self-awareness to the whole project at least – that then finds a way to mention the Nazis. Track 13 picks up the theme of borderline racism with Mr. Ice adopting something like a Jamaican accent and claiming he is a “rosta man”. It’s like he didn’t think he’d stuck two fingers up to enough of black culture and decided to go after Caribbeans as well as rappers.

In short, my favourite thing about this album was that the CD was correctly manufactured, meaning that when I finally ejected it, it came straight out with no trouble and didn’t play for a second longer than was strictly necessary. My least favourite thing was the fact that such a thing is in my possession at all and that I actually listened to the whole thing, god help me.

It looks like the next Four Word Review will be a toss-up between “Dead Letters” by the Rasmus and “Love Situation” by Gary Wilmot, either of which will be an actual pleasure after this ordeal.

9 comments to Four Word Reviews: To The Extreme

  • So what you’re saying is that by listening to possibly the worst album ever made, much worse than that warbling woman who was tone deaf, you might actually looking forward to listening to wor Wilmot or the Rasmus?

  • No, I don’t think I could actually look forward to it. But nothing in my life will ever seem particularly bad now, because having listed to “To The Extreme” I can be certain the worst thing that will ever happen to me has passed.

  • Ian "Mac Mac Mac Mac" McIver

    Wow. That’s quite an accolade.

    If only we knew someone who was good at building things so that they could build Vanilla Ice an award to congratulate him on his efforts.

    If you could single out the worst thing of the worst thing, that being ‘To The Extreme’ what would that be?

  • The lyrics. Without a doubt. Every song is horrendous but when you hear them all one after the other you realise they all contradict each other. It’s like they wanted to write every kind of rap song without any regard for the fact this one guy couldn’t possibly claim to be serious when he performed them. Like, “Hooked” is having a go at some guy for falling for this one woman when he could be messing around with loads of women, as Ice claims he is. Then “I Love You” is Ice telling his girlfriend of two years how much he loves her. Its just so carelessly, brazenly disingenuous and conceited.

    You might have been expecting some light, cheery remark in response as most of these comments are, but I’m afraid I can’t give you that where “To The Extreme” is concerned. The pain is just too raw.

  • Ian "Mac Mac Mac Mac" McIver

    I fully understand your comments and wish you all the best in your new position as a fence post.

    It sounds a right shambles, like an audible version of ‘Bula Quo’.

  • I’m pretty sure Bula Quo is an audible version of Bula Quo.

  • Ian "Mac Mac Mac Mac" McIver

    Well you would know, given that you own both the DVD and accompanying CD soundtrack too. All you need is the Blu-ray and to start a campaign to release the soundtrack on vinyl and you’ll be set.

  • I remember that when I saw Bula Quo with my eyes I also simultaneously heard it with my ears.

    #bulaquo

  • Ian "Mac Mac Mac Mac" McIver

    That’s the kind of memory we can all look forward to hearing again.

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