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.
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|
|3||Stop That Train||Mysogyny||with||bee-bop||sample|
|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|
|10||It’s a Party||Sampled||women||shouting||“yeah”|
|11||Juice to Get Loose Boy||Stupid||high||pitched||interlude|
|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.